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May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. This is the month that we basically honor, celebrate or recognize the achievements of Asian-Americans and/or Pacific Americans. Many names come to mind… Bruce Lee, Sarah Chang, Daniel Inouye, Norman Mineta, Roman Gabriel, Kristi Yamaguchi, Yo Yo Ma, Bobby Jindal, Duke Kahanamoku, to name a few. However, there is one group that I really would like to honor during this month… parents.
I believe that Asian parents play a crucial role in the education of their child/ren. Early on, they instill in their children the value of education. It is typical to hear them say that it is the only gift and legacy that they can pass on to them. Asian parents typically will go out of their way just to secure this gift for their children. But oftentimes, they are misunderstood. They are seen and portrayed as these “tiger parents” who would stop at nothing to push their children to do their best… at all cost. They push and push and push some more! No wiggle room, no hearing of their children’s complaints, no buts! Totally unfair to the eyes of many.
But my question is this… have we even bothered to ask Asian parents what is behind all this? It seems that it is easier for us to be judgmental and say that these parents are overbearing and pushy, with no regard to their children’s feelings and own identities. True to some but I seriously doubt that we can generalize this that easily.
My suggestion—talk to them. Invite them to the class. Ask questions and get to know them on a personal level. Asian parents may not initiate the talking but certainly will respond and open up once queried. Trust me, you will find it worth your while to do so. Just as Confucius said, “You cannot open a book without learning something.” You will be amazed and thankful that you did this. And one last thing… they also will thank you!