The practice of giving your parents money is probably much more common in Asian-American immigrant families than in any other sub-culture. As an Asian-American son of immigrants I felt the pressure of having to give back to my parents my entire life. As the only son, I probably had extra pressure to do give back to my parents. I was lucky in that I was successful enough to be able to help my parents out. At first it was small things like picking up car payments for my mom, but later in life, it was outright gifts of cash when she was about to take a trip to Vegas or Tahoe. The Orange County Register picked up on the Asian practice of giving back to one’s parents in a recently published article. The topic itself wasn’t surprising; but some of the comments made by the children who supported their parents were interesting.
Some of the expected comments included:
It is the ultimate symbol of gratitude that a child can show to his parents It’s just expected in our culture We do it without even thinking and without our parents even having to ask They raised me, and I want to help and repay them back somehow
A couple of the more interesting quotes were:
In a weird way, it is kind of like buying the parents’ love and approval, I don’t want to say it, but it’s true In my parents’ eyes, I know I’m not respected as much as my other sisters [who give the parents more money], and I feel like I can never measure up They haven’t said anything to me but I know they must think I’m a slacker [for not giving parents money]
Not surprisingly for those that didn’t have the means or capabilities to support their parents, there was a slight undertone of regret and disappointment. I also know that every time I did something for my parents it put extra pressure on my siblings and my cousins. When I bought my mom a car, my aunt was one of the first to ask her son, “When are you buying me a car?”. I imagine my cousins weren’t too happy with me back then.
But in the end, as hard as it was sometimes for me financially to give to my parents (and as difficult as it was on my siblings and cousins); I look back on what I was able to do for my parents when they were living, and I do wish I had been able to give more. It may have been buying approval as one of the article’s quotes says, but the joy it brought my parents would have been worth it.
Photo credit: Sang H. Park, OC Register