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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Family harmony vs. Fight for control

As many already know, in foreign countries, there is far greater respect for one’s parents and stronger family harmony than in the US.

In the Philippines, I observed that generally within most families, children don’t tend to argue, whine, complain or fight for control with their parents. There seems to be this natural symbiotic harmony and balance within the family that makes such ego/control battles unnecessary. It’s as if the family is one collective unit or symbiotic body that has one mind and gets along without effort. I see this especially in my Filipina girlfriend’s family (and in fact they are what inspired me to write this chapter). There isn’t this “separate individual identity” that needs to assert its will and struggle for control.

But in the US of course, disagreements, arguing and fighting for control between family members are all too common. Children yell and whine to get their way. And parents inflict constant control, yelling daily orders such as, “I told you to put away your toys! It’s bedtime!” and “Alright I’m gonna count to three and if you don’t go, then…”. And they often have to resort to disciplinary measures to counter disobedience such as threatening to take away privileges. It’s a constant struggle for control between individual entities that need to assert their wills in the typical American family.

Even American movies depict this struggle within the families. Teens are shown arguing and asserting themselves in front of their parents with powerful dramatic vigilance, declaring their freedom and independence, sometimes by force, even using threats. In Asia, that is almost unheard of.

In fact, American movies and music reflect the addiction of American people to conflict and drama. This is very apparent in our films and songs. There is something about drama and conflict that makes the American character and spirit feel “alive” (which is very unspiritual). In the Philippines though, I was surprised to find something different. Almost every song in Tagalog has a light monotone melody that to us seems bland and boring. My cultural advisor explained that this was because there is no “angst” in the Filipino soul. Thus, no melodramatic melody.

Now I’m not saying that families never quarrel in foreign countries, just that the degree to which they do is FAR LESS than in America. Here in the Philippines, I don’t even see the children in my girlfriend’s family arguing over toys. They are always happy to share everything with each other, without conflict. It’s amazing. The parents also never have to tell the kids to go to bed. They just go to bed at the time they are supposed to, without any struggle or resistance, as though everything is in harmony.

This all ties in with the other chapter in this ebook on Interconnectedness vs. Separateness ( as this family harmony vs. disharmony exemplifies that concept and is an offshoot result of it.

Even in America, it is often said that during the last generation, people had more respect toward their parents than they do in the current generation. But I suspect that every generation throughout America’s history has said that about the preceding generation. Thus, it is probably a social trend that began since the cradle of American colonialism. During the Colonial era of the late 18th Century, French ambassadors in America often went away remarking that they’ve never seen people disrespect their parents as much as they do in America.

What’s funny is that not only does America assume that it’s the world and that other countries want to be like them, but in American movies featuring talking animals, such as Babe and Charlotte’s Web, the animals are depicted having the voice and personality of bratty selfish snotty American kids who only care about themselves. Um, sorry Hollywood, but if animals could talk, I don’t think they would act like American kids. More likely, they would behave meekly the way children do in Asia.

In my view, I would rather not raise my children in America. Not only would they become bratty and spoiled, but being Asian, they’d suffer the racism thing too, being treated as inferior culturally and socially. Thus, there would be a high chance of them developing the “inferiority complex” that I did, described in the other chapter in this ebook Blacks and Asians: Inferiority complex vs. Wholesome integration (

So, in my observation, America not only is the worst social life, dating scene, and mental health, but now we can add the worst in family harmony to that list as well.

The only thing the US country seems to be good for is making money and working to death in stress and isolation. Ick. Not my cup of tea at all. As one of my readers, an overseas Asian American, observed: America is a country built for business, not for living life.”

But on the flip side, asserting one’s independence from their family early on allows the chance to accomplish certain things on an individual level that one might otherwise not have. However, the question is, is it worth it to have social disharmony and disunity that leads to increased loneliness, depression, anger/hostility, lower quality of mental and physical health, decreased lifespans, animosity between family members, etc. just to increase individual accomplishments? My cultural consultant who mused over the same issue posed this key question, “Do people need to be individualistic assholes to create advanced 1st world countries and go to the moon? Or can people be nice and still have technological civilizations?”

1 comment:

  1. American kids do seem to be spoiled and arrogant and disrepectful of their parents. They want the best toys, best cell phones, best cars, best clothes so they can compete with their friends. Some parents try to buy their kids as much material things as possible as to show their love for their children. But buying material things for your kids does not necessarily show love. We need to get away from materialism and become more spiritual and friendly!


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