Why Asians Don’t Say “I Love You” To Their Parents

“I love you, mom, dad.”

That’s something we hear children and adults alike say to their parents in movies and TV shows. And in everyday life, of course.

Love is something that I will always treasure. Love locks on Southbank footbridge. | Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure.

Love is something that I will always treasure. Love locks on Southbank footbridge. | Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure.

But funnily enough, be it in reality or the fictional worlds, the phrase of affection “I love you” is rarely uttered by Asians to their parents, whether in English or in their mother tongue.

I’m admittedly one of these Asians. Never once have I said “I love you” to the folks face-to-face or even over the phone. To me, it’s a strange thing to do.

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Are Eyes The Windows To The Soul?

When we meet a random person’s gaze on the streets, we often hold it for a few seconds, half-smile, or immediately avert our eyes elsewhere without so much as a blink.

When we meet their gaze, we tend to think: Are you going to bump into me? What are you looking at? But the other person may or may not be thinking the same thing – eye contact is interpreted differently among cultures.

The saying goes, “eyes are the windows to the soul”. Can we figure out a person’s personality just by looking into their eyes? Maybe. Maybe not.

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Lathering up our bodies with slippery soap. Puffing up our hair with shampoo suds. Rinsing off with water. Bathing. Showering. This is something every one of us does when we want or need a decent scrub down.

But just how often? And the reasons behind the frequency?

We are all different individuals so naturally how often each of us choose to let water fall over our stark naked bodies depends on our preferences. I believe this. Interestingly enough, there is the cultural myth floating around that Asians shower more regularly than Caucasians. As ridiculous as this may sound, it may be true (but unlikely).

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Why Some Of Us Wear Shoes At Home

Recently, I fleshed out a few reasons why many Asians tend to leave their shoes at the door and go barefoot at home.

In reality, some of us don’t share this love of taking our shoes off before going indoors. Some of us especially in the Western world don’t recoil in horror at the thought of stamping around our bedrooms and kitchens with our shoes on.

Me wearing shoes at home...at a mock home setting in IKEA. Photo: Mabel Kwong

Me wearing shoes at home…at a mock home setting in IKEA. Photo: Mabel Kwong

There are legitimate reasons that explain why wearing shoes at home is perfectly normal behaviour for some. The notion that it is a cultural thing is probably the most believable one. Choosing to wear shoes at home is akin to just another everyday life choice or custom: some of us eat with chopsticks while some with forks and spoons. Some of us eat chicken feet and some of us don’t.

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Hi, I’m Asian. Come In, Leave Your Shoes On. Or Not

When I lived at home and an odd job or two needed to be done around our place, my mum welcomed the likes of contractors, plumbers and furniture delivery men into our Melbourne flat.

When she opened the door, these Caucasian handymen and tradesmen always politely asking, “Do we take our shoes off?”

And to my utter surprise and disbelief, each time my mum cheerily said, “No, no, no! It’s OK! Come in! Leave your shoes on!”

Blue shoes.

This is because if I came home and stampeded around the house in my sneakers or slippers, my mum would give me an earful.

It is customary in many Asian cultures, and Middle Eastern, Indian and African cultures as well, to remove footwear before entering the house. Very seldom will you hear an Asian person telling you to leave your shoes outside before stepping into their house. I guess my mum is a bizarre exception, at least towards our visiting Caucasian acquaintances, and I will explain later.

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