Yesterday morning, my father asked me why I was arguing with my girlfriend. I told him that I wasn’t really arguing. We were just talking about how her parents and her younger sister disapprove of me because I am leaving for the Peace Corps. They feel that a responsible son would stay close to his parents if they are old and ill.
So, I asked my father whether he thought a dutiful son would stay close to his parents. Being the only son, my father has all his hopes and dreams riding on me. In his view, my goal is to make myself strong so that I can build a firm foundation for my future family. A dutiful son who wants to honor his parents should seize opportunities that will take him closer to that goal. Although taking care of my mom and dad when they are sick is dutiful, they are not invalid. It seemed as if my dad thought it foolish for me to even consider giving up the Master’s International program.
Telling me this was difficult for my father. He is usually a stoic and quiet man. For him to express himself like this choked him up into tears. I am the last of the Jiang bloodline. Success in career and family are imperative. He assured me that I should not worry about him and my mother. They did not raise me so that they could depend on me on their old age. They raised me so that I can build a strong future for myself.
This is a break from traditional Chinese thinking. I never really knew that is how my father felt. All this time I thought I was the only one in the family who held this philosophy.