Seeing My Dad as More than a Monster
That touched me a lot. I think there's some resonace inside of me.
I am an Chinese born and raised boy with a dad that exactly like the one you have.
there're hundreds of times that he hit me and my mom when I was young. and I don't know there're some sort of childhood trauma or patriarchism or sth else that makes those dad that nasty. and I believe that could be passed to the offsprings they have. and I've always been trying my best to make some change. at least I don't want be that kind of dad in the furture.
my aunt once told me that she really sympathize me that I have a bad Family of Origin （原生家庭）through a phone call. of couse I know she's telling the truth, but I said nothing bad about my dad on that phone call, cuz I knew she hates my father, and if I wanna mend the rifts, I must be the one not to foment the bad feelings.
And when I grow older(I am 31 now), I gradually know how to deal with my father. There is no doubt that he is a child. he'll do what he wanna do when he face his family with no scruples and never care other's feeling. He just gets angry when he's unhappy(just like a child). but once if you see him as a child, you'll know how to put the baby down. slow down your voice and try to soothe him, you'll see the magic power of that measure.
Okay, it's 1:30 in Beijing now and it's time for me to go to sleep.
Hope you can have a better relationship with your dad in the foreseable future. And I really love your story.
A tear ran down my face as I read the message from your dad. I’ve disconnect all communication from mine excluding a single email address. I desperately wish one day I’d open that email to a message like what your dad sent. Alas I’m only told how much of a disappointment I am, and even though I know what to expect, it hurts every time.
Great entry, and thank you for sharing.
This came to me exactly when I needed it- thank you for sharing.
Thank you for sharing your story, Valerie. ❤️
The first section hit home. I'm raising 3 kids: 5, 3, and a new born and by golly I count backwards from 5 whenever they aren't obeying. Granted I don't hit them when I reach 1 but my 5 year old had a melt down literally today during dinner when he didn't want to eat bulgogi over rice. I made him exactly what he asked for which was sausages and he complained that they were burnt (they weren't burnt, just fresh off the skillet) and that he wanted raw sausage. I tried to explain to him that he couldn't eat raw sausage and that it was bad for his tummy but he started crying and throwing a fit.
Instead of trying to understand or defusing the situation, I escalated by taking the sausage dish and yelling that now he had to eat the original bulgogi over rice and that was his only option for dinner. Well that of course resulted in more years and huffing and puffing. I grabbed him and acted like I was going to hit his butt until he said he'd eat his rice.
Of course when he sat back down, he didn't touch his rice so things escalated further to where he was throwing a tantrum and instead of trying to calm him down, I kept yelling.
Definitely going to reflect and try being more patient. No idea what's going on in those young brains.
This is beautiful, Valerie. Thanks for writing this and for sharing it.
This was very moving. Both to read and experience from your own eyes, and from your fathers eyes. I am left wondering about his childhood, and to reflect on the powerful associations that are carried from generation to generation. Issues that are most strongly brought to light when the stressors of children happen. 88% of women volunteered in one study, that they became like their mothers after children. 52% in the first three years. In some ways, without that greater awareness that you are so clearly exploring now, we are destined to carry in the family traditions.
I deeply applaud the depth of your work and awareness, and the honesty of your self reflection. It is as moving as it is wise and informative.
❤️ I’m really glad you posted this. it’s making me think about my relationship with my parents..
Trauma & Recovery by Judith Lewis Herman is the academic psychology bible for handling CPTSD. I recommend reading it early in your healing process, it provides a good well-referenced model of recovery from trauma which makes other tools more effective.
I posed this on HN:
"Of course this is Asian parents," I thought as I saw the Chinese characters.
Every time I read something like this, it's a wave of sadness and empathy, then it's a wave of anger. I'm a generation older than the author, and went through a similar experience with my mother. I witnessed my cousin be thrown against the drywall so hard, he broke it. I'm convinced he has permanent brain damage today due to the abuse he suffered.
I learned from my uncle recently that my aunt and my mother were the product of horrendous and similar abuse from my grandmother. My grandmother, who my mother made out to be a saint.
Every fucking generation, this filial piety bullshit repeats itself.
My mother died in 2020. Up until then it was the same cycle. I blew up at her once, pointing out what an awful parent she was. She cried and begged forgiveness, then a couple of days later, acted like nothing happened, then quickly slid back into the same patterns. Shit never changes with them.
damn that was a hard read; i can’t pretend to know how you feel but i’m very happy that you found the strength to write this piece and share it with us
Valerie, it must take so much to finally own your story and share your experiences. I couldn't start to understand what you went through but I can imagine how liberating this might feel to put your feelings and thoughts to paper. Asian family dynamics can be so complex as I'm navigating my own relationships with my family too. appreciate you for sharing it with us :)
thank you for being so vulnerable. this is the first post i’ve read after stumbling across your substack, and it was so tender and raw.
i have more of a tiger mom, and have read more mom-daughter father-son pieces but hardly any father-daughter. it’s a unique dynamic that got me thinking about my own dad.
he’s not overtly mean, and in fact hes very passive. but i realized that actually, it’s in his passivity where his flawed beliefs appear. he’ll be quiet when my brother starts yelling and hitting me. he’s suddenly gone when we fight. afterward, he’ll blame me for riling him up. my mom says it has to do with his ingrained patriarchy as the only son of a rural chinese family.
this was really good thanks