This is a requested follow-up to my Valentine’s day post. I had several friends comment on how they have been affected by what I call the Gen0 (immigrant) or Gen1 Chinese-American upbringing of “Study study study, no, no…Yale, Harvard, Princeton” then entering college, followed immediately by, “Where is husband?”. Several of the more confused of those “affected” individuals are the current boyfriends or suitors of the Chinese-American women. These individuals seem baffled by the Stockholm-syndrome-like relationships many young, unmarried Chinese-American women have with their seemingly harshly worded, scrutinizing, and all-self-sacrificing mothers. As promised, here’s my best take on some observations and advice. For those men trying to put a ring on it but finding the potential future mother-in-law to be unwoo-able, commit this to memory. There’ll be a quiz later. And remember, anything below an A- is basically failing.
- Babies, babies, babies. There is nothing more that a Chinese-American mom wants for her daughter than babies. You should express your absolute desire and unconditional support for 1-3 children, especially if your beloved is 28 or older. (1) will greatly mitigate the need of (2)-(10) on this list and scales according to age and your beloved’s enthusiasm for children: the higher the age, or the lower your partner’s enthusiasm, the more you should weight (1).
- Insurance policies: Health insurance, car insurance, home insurance, renter’s insurance, flooding insurance, earthquake insurance, tornado insurance, sandstorm insurance. Be prepared for a high level of risk aversion from your partner’s mom and address it head-on, “Yes, roof came off during a heavy rain? We’ve got insurance for that. Chance of robbery? We’ve got insurance for that. In fact, we’ve got insurance on the insurance policies.”
- Discuss your savings plan for your non-existent children’s college tuition. Discuss how you’ve done the research on your local town for average SAT scores and entries into the top 10. Have contingency plans for moving if the schools are not up to par, and buy your home based on the education system. This conversation is appropriate during any setting, at any time.
- Unquestioning, completely faithful eating. Ever done the trust fall? Be prepared to do so at the dinner table once your beloved’s mother prepares food. Try everything. Pick a few that you really enjoy and dig in. Don’t know what’s in that stir-fry? Not sure which animal (or animal part you’re eating)? Push all questioning thoughts out of your mind, pick up your chopsticks, and make sure to compliment the chef.
- Show a fascination with the Chinese language, but butcher it completely. There is nothing more adorable than the foreign guy in the room innocently missing the pin yin so that he ends up saying, “Your horse is very beautiful” instead of “Your mother is very beautiful”.
- If your beloved’s father sits you down at dinner and says, “The man is the head of the body. He must be in control of his household,” and your beloved’s mother turns to scream with anger, “But the neck controls the head!” change the subject and discuss education systems for your non-existent children.
- Discuss your willingness and excitement to travel back to the motherland once a year.
- Research what hot, new item is the Chinese obsession but designed and invented in the U.S. (for the past few years, this means most Apple products).
- Show your absolutely attentiveness to the health of your beloved’s grandparents. If her grandparents are living with them, walk them down the stairs. Pull out their chair for them at the dinner table. Make hot tea and serve it. Fuss over their health, and don’t let them drink cold water.
- Express your indignation and confusion over the big fuss on this article.
In the end, keep in mind that your beloved’s mother is a big part of her life. The relationship between mother and daughter is a mixture between teacher and student, caretaker and child, disciplinarian and disciplined. Most importantly of all, Chinese mothers want to know her daughter is being treated with kindness, care, and respect. If you can properly show that, feel free to toss everything above out.
Okay, got it all? Have I missed anything? If so, please respond below in the comments sections!