Sunday, February 8, 2009

Love in the Tsinoy Family

I may be wrong, but this is from my observation of the typical Tsinoy family, specifically mine. We are not as showy in our love as Pinoys are. We do not hug or kiss as often, especially if we have already grown out of the "cutie" stage. I only saw my dad give my mom flowers perhaps once in a few years' time. I've kissed my friends on the cheek more often than I do my own mother. Not because I don't love her, because I do, but because we're just not used to be so showy. But then, love doesn't have to be for show, does it?

Because of this, sometimes we Tsinoys are thought of as being unaffectionate, to say the least.

Despite the fact that we're a little uncomfortable with physically showing our love in ways that the typical Pinoy or the typical Westerner would, we do love each other, although we don't shout it out vocally or physically. It's just that sometimes it's a little hard for others to understand how we could love each other and be so "un-physical" about it.

These are what I observed from my elders, on how they show their love, the traditional way.
  • Chinese men work hard to provide for their family, even if it means working long hours 7 days a week. Even if it means long absences from home.
  • Chinese wives put their husband's families before their own. She is expected to serve her father-in-law and mother-in-law before thinking of her own father and mother. (That's why in traditional families, they literally "lose" a child when a daughter marries.) She is also expected to manage the household, whether or not she is working outside the home. In case her husband passes away, she remains faithful to his memory and avoids a second marriage.
  • Chinese parents try to ensure good marriages for their children by trying to do a background check on prospective mates for their children.
  • Chinese children respect their parents. Even if they don't agree with their parent's wishes, they follow all the reasonable requests.
  • Chinese respect their ancestors by praying to them and offering food offerings, incense sticks and "paper money" to them.
  • Chinese parents provide homes for their sons and daughters-in-law as well as their families.
  • Chinese are frugal sometimes to the point of stinginess, in order to leave more resources for the family to enjoy and to later inherit.
  • After giving birth, the daughter-in-law is asked to take a complete rest from her chores and is given a special diet in order to regain her strength and her health.
If you are a non-Chinese, you would probably not find "love" in any of these gestures and would still conclude that Chinese people are so strict with tradition and so unloving. But these are precisely some of the ways that we show our love. Of course, times evolve, and some of these may not apply anymore. Modern Tsinays like me even chafe at the restrictions and have proceeded to break some of the expected behavior. Marrying a non-Chinese is one of them. But unlike what Pinoys think, my family didn't disown me and still accepted me, because I am family and they love me...come what may.
This is my contribution to The Blog Rounds: Love Edition hosted by Em Dy.


docemdy said...

Thanks Joey for the very informative yet personal post! Happy Valentine's Day!