Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Parenting in a Different Culture

"Honor your father and mother—which is the first commandment with a promise— that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth" (Ephesians 6:2-3).

I love both my Mom and Dad although emotionally I always felt closer connected with my Mom. Like all parents, they had their ups and downs in life, and it was their broken relationship that affected me the most.

As a young girl, I heard about how Dad had a mistress who gave birth to a son (my half-brother) when I was only one year old. I was told that my grandmother told Dad, "Two girls in a row? You'd better go elsewhere to have a son," right after I was born. Since Mom wanted to give my older sister and me a good life, she eventually accepted my Dad's concubine.

There were pictures of me wearing boy's clothing before I started school. Feeling insignificant as a girl, I tried very hard to be better than boys academically, athletically, and socially. I wanted to please my dad and grandmother, and to honor my mom.

After their marital storm, my parents tried to live a normal life – as normal as it could be living with my grandmother. Being number 8 among ten children, my dad and us lived with grandmother's five youngest children (#6-10) and their families in her big house in Happy Valley, Hong Kong. Grandmother had two cooks. We used to eat dinner around four to five big round tables everyday. Since Dad's concubine lived in Kowloon, Dad only came home four nights a week.

On top of all this complexity, tragedy struck. When my half-brother was ten, he was run over and killed by his school bus. Dad was deeply saddened and guilt-stricken. Ironically, about one year before that fatal accident, my mom gave birth to my younger brother. After trying for nine years, Mom finally had a son of her own when I was almost 10. I cried when I first read the story of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar. Sadly, our mom passed away at age 48 when my brother was in his early teen. Dad felt guilty to both sides of his family but never really talked much about it.