I am 31 years old and am a Singaporean Chinese. I
was married in 1993 to a guy 2 years my senior.
I was fostered out to a foster family when I was
just 3 days old! My foster family gets paid every month
from my natural parents (though the paltry sum they paid
eventually decreased throughout the years) until it was
really my foster parents who "subsidized" and paid for
some of my things.
My childhood -- I remember it as confusing and
hurtful. My natural mum is a compulsive gambler and she
used to USE ME AS AN EXCUSE in order to go to the
gambling dens! She rarely visited me (only once in
several months) and when she did, put me into a corner of
the gambling den without drink NOR food until she had
finished her mahjong which was usually WAY PAST MIDNIGHT!
This is only one of the many other horrid times I had
with her! As for my natural father, he was one steeped in
feudal values and who hated girls and thought girls were
useless! For that stupid reason, he forbade me to advance
I am lucky to be married to a man who loves me very
much! However, I do not plan to have any kids because I
don't think I know how to love a child. I remember my
childhood as one of cutting remarks and hurtful incidents
-- remarks which pierced my heart to the very core!
In the Chinese context of child-parent
relationships, a child is supposed to be obedient and
filial toward her parents! But what about the parents?
Aren't they supposed to love and nurture their kids too?
It was only last year in 1996 that I began
questioning parental values and love. I cannot forget the
way my natural parents treated me. Why choose to give
birth to me if they don't love me??? Why? It would have
been better if they had simply aborted me! I am their
flesh and blood, why did they choose to hurt me with
their cutting and insensitive remarks? When I was a kid,
I saw my friends who had loving parents who doted on
them, and how I envied them.
I cannot get the resentment off me! WIth my hubby's
help, I have become stronger now and no longer cry when
my natural parents hurt me with their words! Nowadays, I
do not visit them at all except during Chinese New Year.
I am now thinking of cutting all ties with them if
possible! I cannot cannot cannot possibly FORGET the way
they treated me when I was growing up! My husband says my
natural parents have "softened" a little -- especially my
father -- but it is too late, don't you think so? 31
years of being unloved and now they want to try to be a
little nicer to me? Whatever for?? It is way too late --
I am already hardened by all those hurtful words and acts
in the past. Please advise.
For your info, I have now stopped work and am
applying to enter university in Perth. I get a 1 1/2 year
full exemption because of my diploma. What I have now is
the result of years of toil and hard work -- I did not
get a single cent from my parents. My natural parents
DOTED on my eldest brother who happened to be BORN a BOY!
He got the best of everything -- money + love + everthing
I read your email very carefully. I'm very sorry to
hear about your experience!
I'm glad to hear that you're on your way to college
in Perth. The change of venue may be very refreshing for
your life. I'm also glad to hear that you have a husband
who loves you. You're very lucky that you do.
My experience was not as severe as yours, but I can
say that my father - although physically present - was
heartistically absent from my childhood. He never
expressed love to me after I was seven.
You are very right about the fact that parents are
obligated to love their children. Filial piety is a
child's natural response to overwhelming love from her
parents. Parents who don't love their children have no
right to demand filial piety from them.
I respect many parts of Chinese culture and
Confucian values, but I also believe that the internal
values of unselfish heart and love transcend those
traditional values. The way of relationships in a family
does need a certain "order", but beyond the external
order, internal "heart" should be the driving force in a
I like the definition of heart which says, "Heart is
the desire to gain joy by giving and receiving love."
When my wife, Kim, and I argue (which we hope is
never), although Confucian ethics would say that the wife
should follow the husband, there is an even higher order.
If the husband is the leader, who or what is the leader
of the husband? How can a husband (or a father) be
qualified to be a leader?
Kim and I like to put it very simply. Although it
sounds informal, it has a very real impact in our life.
We just tell ourselves that, "True love is the boss."
In other words, true love, or "unselfish love" is
the supreme ethic that guides our lives. The wife AND the
husband must bow down to the ethic of true love. It's the
same for parents. If the father or mother do something
that violates the ethic of true unselfish love, then
they're simply wrong. Period.
If, on the other hand, any of us adopt and practice
the ethic of giving to others, serving others, and loving
others unselfishly, then we automatically gain
"authority" in relationship to other people. The great
thing about this is that, by the very nature of true
love, we would then never misuse our "authority", but
instead do all we could to bring happiness to others, and
guide them toward the way of true unselfish love.
This concept goes beyond race, nationality, or
religion. Whatever one believes, in terms of religion, I
think that one can search the world over and never find
an ethic or value that has more beauty, peace, power, or
eternal impact than the ethic that says, "Please let me
give to others, serve others, and love others more." I
tell my children that unselfish love is the most powerful
force in the universe.
I also personally believe that humankind was created
by God, and that even though there are many bad parents
in the world, the mere fact that there are good parents,
and that true love really does exist, demonstrates that
logically the God who created that aspect of life must
have the attributes of unselfish love inside His own
heart. Otherwise, how could He create them?
For this reason, I think the real long-range power
that we can find in our life comes about from examining
and getting to know the heartistic situations, sadness,
and desire to love, that God is experiencing. I really do
believe that He is the First Parent for all of us, and
that He is one that we can absolutely trust. He's seen it
all, through thousands of years of bloody and mournful
In any case, even if one doesn't believe in God or
religion, the ethics of true love are a life-giving
formula for our life.
Ultimately, I prefer to look at parents such as
yours, or mine, as victims of their own parents, who
didn't know what they were doing. They're sad and
pathetic, in a way.
For that reason, I try to take the position that I
will give love to them, as THEIR parent, and try to
delicately guide them to understand heart and love. It's
easier to forgive them, if we realize how miserable and
confused and ignorant they have been.
Because "true love is the boss", I also think that
it's appropriate to draw a line, and not necessarily
follow our parent's way or direction, if their actions
and opinions violate true love. I think that is true
I pray for you success in life! I think that with
your experience, and sense of heart, you'll be a very
good mother. You know what you shouldn't do.