Saturday, September 19, 2015

Who Owes Who What?

In the last few years, I've heard far too many stories of Millennial Asians getting to medical school or some graduate school... and, with or without completing... wishing to quit the entered industry entirely. To this, much familial drama ensued. Primarily, in the form of cultural concept of someone owing something to another someone.

Most commonly, the parents of the millennial feel like the child owes it to them to complete or to continue in the industry regardless of how fulfilling, rewarding, ethical, or otherwise that industry is.

In fact, the parents have already bragged to their family, friends, and extend social circles that their son or daughter is going to be "a doctor." An event which has yet to be completed... when most people would simply say, " going to medical school" or what have you.

In essence, they've already written a check and made a promise  to their social circles which wasn't meant for them to cash. It isn't the parent's own life that they have made promises on. It was the on lives of their children they've made claim to control over; that, is the reason why they are so seemingly disappointed, dishonored, ashamed... that is the center of the drama.

Of course, it could be said that the Asian parents have provided support (if not complete financial coverage) of college, food, housing, and what not. What more do you children want? All I'm (the parent) asking, is that you do everything I say for the rest of your life. Otherwise, I'll cause you to feel more shame, regret, existential dissonance, and guilt than you've ever known.

Besides, it's only fair. Actually, the thing is, you owe me your life. Don't you?


First off. No one owns or owes anyone. Parents don't owe children anything except to be good parents, to set them up for success, and to raise them to be honorable, productive, and contributory members of society. Beyond that, it's all a gifting in life. Similarly, children don't owe parents anything. What parents do, they do, because it is the RIGHT THING TO DO. They are supposed to provide for you, raise you, give you every fighting chance they are capable of so that you are set up for success. In the same vein, it is your job not to squander what they have done for you.


There's no payback on this... no lifetime mortgage to be owed that they lay claim to your life's path, decisions, and directions. Where you go to school. What career path you pursue. Who you marry. How many children you are going to have.

They have ZERO right, ZERO say, and ZERO vote to these elements of your life.

While certainly, it's good to respect and honor the good graces of others... it is important to recognize that those are exactly that: GOOD GRACES. They are gifts. Given, bought, paid for, and dispersed.

No one OWNS you for the gifts they've given. And, no one is owed to give those gifts. Additionally, you owe NOTHING for the graces you've received. As above, you owe it to yourself to live honorably given those who have sacrificed to give you the opportunity to become more than that which is your inheritance.

As for all the rest; their advice, continued input & involvement in your life... Certainly! Welcome and honor them in such manners so long as their presence is a positive.


To all those parents who rather their children be disowned, or, not even exist being that they rather choose a life OTHER THAN a doctor/lawyer (see Doctor, Lawyer, or Bust!)... I ask you: Do you value being related to your son/daughter? Or, do you value being related to a doctor/lawyer?

How is it that you feel you are in the right to guilt and shame and bully your children into becoming what you want for them rather than what is best for them? That being something like a doctor is the only thing to be? They don't owe you anything. And, they certainly don't owe you servitude for you to inflict such emotional punishment upon.

As for you Millennial Asians who feel stuck between principle and purpose. I say this:

Principle without purpose is pointless.

The cultural principle may be "doctor, lawyer, or bust." However, the purpose is to be more than where you started. To continually grow and to contribute generously to other people's lives. There are many ways to do that outside of the cultural archetypes. I want to encourage you that while dialogue may be moot, action and results speak louder and clearer.

And, one last thing. I am coming at this from the perspective that I too am a parent and a very proud father of a wonderful son.

I will NEVER force, bully, or make guilty in any manner to make my boy feel like he owes me or is obligated to me in any way. I just want him to grow up to be a good and honorable man.

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