You have probably heard of Gary Chapman’s “The 5 Love Languages.”
What about The 5 ASIAN Love Languages?
Disclaimer: This by no means refers to all or even most Asian households. Stereotypes can be exaggerations, but they also often contain some truth.
Words of Affirmation are typically lacking in Asian households. Good behaviors are seldom praised and positive reinforcement is not much used.
Instead, there is criticism in hopes of steering children into certain directions, using guilt, shame, and comparisons (to friends’ or neighbor’s kids) through negative reinforcement (children wanting to make such comments stop).
Parents hope these harsh words to be motivating, but oftentimes they can have the opposite effect — destroying children’s self-esteem and self-worth, which makes it even harder to achieve the goals the parents want them to. Sometimes they may give up and keep a distance from their families, if they become too toxic.
Asian households tend to be workaholic and staying late at work is often seen as a badge of honor. Many are working hard for their families, but they forget that families need time to spend WITH them, too.
Quality time means not just spending time together, but also giving one’s full attention and being an active listener.
Asians tend to shy away from talking about emotions or other deeper conversations. Emotions are often dismissed and children told to “be strong” or “suck it up” or just “push through it.”
Gifts are abundant in Asian culture. Every year children get a “Red Envelope” with money in it, but parents also do a good job of providing for their children with all the food, shelter, and clothing they need, even toys, cars, and tuition.
It’s the more abstract parts of parenting that are difficult – validating emotions, nurturing a growth mindset, being accepting of failures and mistakes, and even spending quality time together.
Financial security is so important, especially to immigrants from poor countries, that many parents are so focused on working to bring in money that they miss out on giving their kids what money can’t buy.
Acts of Service focus a lot on food. Asian caregivers love to show their love with food. Making delicious home-cooked meals or bringing their children food and/or groceries is common.
In parents’ eyes, good nutrition is an important part of life. For them, good meals were hard to come by back in the bitter days before moving to a better country.
This is a wonderful love language, but issues can arise too when taken to an extreme. Family often comments on weight as the first thing they say when they haven’t seen someone in a while, which can lead to body image insecurities, equating food with love, or using food as an unhealthy coping mechanism.
Hugs and other physical expressions of love are rare in Asian households. General expressions of emotion are hard, and emotions are often repressed or suppressed, especially for men.
Children need physical touch to feel loved. Harry Harlow’s famous study on rhesus monkeys showed that babies vastly preferred a soft “mother” made from cloth rather than a “mother” made of hard wire even though the wire mother had food with her.
We at Acceptsians are working hard to bring awareness to and change these not-so-adaptive parts of Asian and Asian-American culture!!
We aim to undo their toxic effects so that every person can live out their best, most authentic life with pride, respect, and grace!
If you’d like to join us in our missions, please get in touch!
What do you think of the 5 Asian Love Languages? We’d love to hear your comments below!