During my childhood, my parents were very protective of me. I couldn’t ride my bike much farther than one or two blocks from our house; I couldn’t hang with my friends outside of school without a curfew. I remember in second grade when I received my very first invitation to a slumber party from one of my girlfriends. I brought the small, foldable purple card that had cute PJs on it home to my parents, excited to show them and ask if I could go. I remember telling them what it was, giving specific details, asking politely, explaining how there would be other girls there as well. But still, their answer was no. They told me they didn’t know my friend’s parents, that they didn’t feel it was safe for me to go. Being the little girl that I was, I didn’t understand. It was a harmless sleepover and I just wanted to have fun like my other friends whose parents were letting them go – but mine didn’t want me to. I cried. And after many failed attempts to sway them to say yes, I didn’t bother asking any further. After all, my parents were my parents and what they say always goes.
During high school, my parents were still protective of me. Although I gained a bit more freedom and was able to go out a lot more, I remember my friends would always tease me for being so “sheltered” and for still having a curfew. For example, I went to a karaoke get-together and it was getting close to my 9pm “curfew.” My friend had driven me there, and when I unwillingly asked her to bring me home because it was getting close to my curfew, she teased me and called me a party-pooper (lol) before dropping me off.
Additionally during high school, I also began to better understand what my parents’ expectations were for me. One time, I went to a grad party that was a mere five minutes from my house. Although it was really close, I got in trouble for staying past my curfew without letting my parents know that I was planning on staying there later than expected. My parents are the kind that like to know where I am and what I am doing – who I’m with and what time I’ll be home. I’ve learned that if I just inform and reassure them of my whereabouts, then I was free to go places and hang with my friends. Throughout high school, doing this became a normal routine that I got very used to.
In college, I definitely had a lot more freedom and became more independent – but it wasn’t easy to gain. My freshman year, I wanted to live on campus. However, my parents didn’t want me to because it wasn’t “ladylike” to live on my own. During my sophomore year, I used a different tactic – logic. After doing an internship and saving up some money during the past summers, I brought up the idea of living on campus once again. I told my parents that I would be able to pay for it, and that living on my own would allow me to learn how to better take care of myself and be more responsible. I also brought up the idea that commuting to school was cold and more dangerous during the wintertime. Although my parents were hesitant on letting me live on campus – they let me. It also helped that two of my roommates were also Laotian and my parents knew their parents.
Living on campus allowed me to experience life in a way that I never did before. I could sleep at any hour without having anyone nag at me, I could come back to my apartment as late as I wanted to, I could go anywhere without having to tell anyone where I was or what I was doing. However, I definitely saw a difference when I would go home during the weekends or during breaks. (See image below.)
After college, I moved back home – which is where I’m currently at right now. And to be honest, it has been a constant struggle. Because I spent three years on campus and gained a lot more independence, I was so used to doing things on my own, making my own decisions, and not having any obligations to constantly let anyone know where I am or what I am doing. My parents still do not understand me completely. They don’t understand why I sometimes come back home late, why I sometimes sleep over at my friends’ houses, why I like going out so much. I, too, do not full understand my parents or their perspectives sometimes.
It’s a constant struggle, but I’ve come to accept that my parents’ views on things might be different from my own. And that sometimes, there may not be compromises that can be established – and I feel that culture clashes definitely play a role. A part of me really yearns to respect my parents and live up to their expectations, but another part of me is very compelled to live life as I choose and do what I please.
Although I’m still learning, all I know for sure is this: I love and appreciate my parents. Lately I’ve been finding myself neglecting them because I feel that they don’t fully understand my perspective on things. I realize that although we don’t always see things eye-to-eye, I have to remember that they only want what’s best for me. I hope to one day find a happy medium living in the U.S. as an Asian American daughter.
Note: Were you able to relate? Do you have similar experiences? Share your thoughts below. I would love to hear your perspective on this topic!