Jun 22, 2007 - Parenting, Philosophy    7 Comments

Asian values, Western culture

I have dark hair and yellow skin, so does my husband and naturally so does my daughter. As we live in the UK, to the next person, it may mean we are different, although more likely it may mean absolutely nothing apart from the fact that we are of some ‘Oriental’ ancestry.

Looks aside though, I have come to realise that there are so so many fundamental differences in the way I do, say, behave and ultimately respond to the world around, simply because I have had different values ingrained.

It does mean though, I am constantly in conflict within as to how we bring up Georgia and what we teach her.

On one hand I want her to grow up, respecting people (especially the elders), being compassionate, filial, thoughtful and caring, yet in this seemingly Western world of self, ie self importance, self love, self preservation, freedom of expression and independence, I don’t want her to lose out either.

I love the independence of the children here. I am in awe of the little blond three-year old boy who ambled upstairs, alone(!) at Starbucks in Bath, to help his mummy find a table, while she queued to buy them Mochas.

How do we find the ‘middle’ path, live the best of both worlds and not feel like we have sacrificed one for the other?

© 2007, Li-ling. All rights reserved.


  • I wish I knew the answer to that myself. Personally, I think the society of the “Western World” could use a healthy dose of Confucianism. 😉

  • Thanks Imugi, it’s good to know that I’m not alone in that dilemma.

    I agree that all societies could do with learning and accepting a little more of each other but as we cannot ensure that they will as a whole, I suppose our only solution is that we find it within ourselves to adapt, teach our children what is right, and hope that all will be well!….(wishful thinking, perhaps!?)

  • Perhaps, but I think it’s really all we’ve got. The challenge of course is to try and take what is best from the cultures we encounter. Another challenge is seeing how to apply principles and values from one culture in a totally different setting. It’s difficult, but in the very process of struggling, I think we have the potential to learn so much about ourselves and our tradition(s), as well as the traditions of others. Perhaps great insight can only take place under these conditions? 🙂

  • Yes, It IS all we’ve got.

    The challenge is also in making sure the struggles and lessons transcends the generations, and is not simply eventually lost to societal peer pressures.

  • In the end, maybe all we can do is to trust ourselves, our traditions, and our children, and do our best.

  • I love the way that eveyone smiles back at me in Malaysia and I have never been greeted so well as in Thailand, and well Bali is like going to paradise. I have found that as a westerner it is the most helpful for me when I use the conjunction “and” instead of “or”. My culture has some great values and so does Latin America and so does Asia. You have to love the initiative people have in the west and they way they can speak freely and give their opinions to solve problems, and you can really love how well Asians show respect and honour their parents and grandparents and you really have to love the way a Brazilian will want to take you to a party 5 seconds after they meet you.

  • […] A recent article Why Chinese Mothers are Superior in the Wall Street Journal has caused a lot of controversy and raised a lot of emotion amongst it readers and it’s certainly worth a read. Being an immigrant (Malaysian Chinese) to a Western culture (we now live in the UK), this article has certainly struck a chord for many reasons….not least because I too am, to a certain extent, trying to instill my child with ‘Asian values’ while being surrounded by Western Culture (I wrote about this when Georgia was little more than 1 here); […]

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