Values From My Singaporean Mum
An article on BBC talks about how having strict Asian parents led to the writer feeling lonely and awkward later in life. I read the article and felt sorry for her, but also, for the Asian parents who get a lot of flak for their parenting style.
I am a child of mixed heritage; my mum is Singaporean and my dad is British. As such, I grew up experiencing different styles of parenting. When I think about it, my mother’s Asian parenting style has been crucial in developing the person I am today. The values she taught me also played a significant role in me achieving success.
Success is a relative concept. I believe success includes being financially stable, having a strong network of friends, a desire to learn and being truly happy.
Disclaimer: The values I mention are generalisations and come from personal experience. I understand not all Asian parents are the same.
1. Respect for my elders
For some odd reason, I call anyone who looks like they are the same age as my mum and dad, auntie and uncle. My Western friends think it is hilarious. My mother taught me to revere and value the experience of my elders. This has allowed me to soak in their knowledge, which has helped me in my personal life and career.
When I was studying abroad, I always took the time to help and listen to my friends’ parents. In turn, they welcomed me into their homes and made me feel less alone. I felt like I had multiple sets of parents who were always looking out for me (and my stomach)!
2. Have ambition
They say an Asian fail is a B. Fortunately, my mum wasn’t too hard on us academically. However, we were expected to try our best and failing wasn’t an option. Also, striving for the next level of success was considered normal in my household.
When it came to asking for promotions, my mum always said, “You don’t ask, you don’t get.” This helped immensely in propelling my career. As such, everything I do in life, I try to be the best. I normally don’t end up being the best but I get further than if I didn’t try at all.
3. Being thrifty
I grew up checking the price tag of items and I’m surprised I’m not cross-eyed from all the times I had to search for discounted goods. Asian parents love a good bargain. This thriftiness and appreciation for the value of money helped me gain financial stability early on in life. Unlike some of my peers, I have no credit card debt. If I can’t afford it, I don’t buy it.
“When your grandfather was a young boy, all he had to eat during the war was tapioca.” This is the story my mum tells of when the Japanese invaded Malaysia in 1941. My mum taught me that there are others out there who are less fortunate than I am, therefore, I should be grateful for what I have.
I believe gratitude is a huge contributing factor to happiness. Being able to appreciate whatever situation you are in helps make life a bit more colourful.
5. Hard work and resilience
My life motto is, “I don’t know if I’m smart, so I better work hard. If I’m smart, it’s a bonus.” Many goals that I achieved happened through sheer grit and perseverance.
My mum taught me you have to eat the vegetables of life if you want to achieve your goals. Vegetables don’t always taste nice, but they are good for us.
6. A true passion for food
If you have an Asian mum, you best believe your life is going to revolve around good food. Having an appreciation for food has given me insight to new cultures and cuisines. It has also helped me open my mind and grow as a person. My mum taught me to nurture my body with healthy and delicious food, so it grows strong.
Do you feel under the weather? Get yourself some herbal chicken soup. Stomach bug? Porridge for 2 days. An Asian mum has all your ailments covered! As I grow older, I have been learning my mum’s delicious and nutritious recipes, which I will teach my future children one day.
The Values My Singaporean Mum Taught Me
As annoying as Asian parents’ nagging may seem, try and see the value in their madness. Because one day, there will be no one to remind you to be grateful or to eat healthy food.
One day our parents will go, and what’s left will be the values they instilled in us that will stay with us for life. If you have an Asian mum, send her a text and say, “Thanks Ma, love you! I will bring some herbal chicken soup for lunch.”