"She wanted me to do Maths, as people think you will earn more."
Asian Parents expectations, why are they so high?
From them expecting you to graduate as a Doctor to a ‘when are you getting married?’ talk at the mere age of 23.
Somewhere, some child is rolling their eyes at their Asian parents.
Have Asian parents expectations changed over the years?
Through the voices of British Asians, DESIblitz explores how the Asian culture of expectations has changed.
Why do Asian parents have demanding expectations?
There could be numerous reasons as to why Asian parents have such high expectations.
Westernised culture, in comparison to Asian culture, tends to favour independence. As a result, they don’t pose as much control over their children.
Asians have been raised into a culture where authority is honoured. This possibly indicates why there is pressure to be highly successful.
Therefore, the better job you have, the more you will be admired.
It also is the reason to why Asian parents are more forceful, because, they can be. Parents decide their children’s future as the child is not yet old enough to make wise decisions themselves. As authority is important, the parent’s say is valued.
For generations, Asian society has had an inbuilt desire to do well and succeed. It was the economical ‘survival of the fittest,’ in a developing urban world. They wanted job security and good pay, so their offspring had better opportunities. And so this stuck for future generations.
You will always meet someone who will claim it is a chance for families to have bragging rights. The stigma, ‘look at everything my daughter has achieved!’ is still alive today. But, not solely subject to Asians.
What are the general expectations?
General expectations included exceptional grades at school, whilst simultaneously being the top of karate class. Being able to afford an expensive car but still, master DIY at home.
Further, a good degree which will follow a good job.
Think of it as making an eye-catching rishta CV for potential future spouses and in-laws.
For a woman, add in perfect cook and housewife too. For the man, a healthy paycheck is one of the key demands of an Asian parent’s expectations.
All in all, this will result in a wonderful marriage by 23, and a few kids in a more-than-average sized house before 30. A complete package of the challenging Asian parent’s expectations.
How much have Asian parents expectations changed?
Speaking to many British Asians, DESIblitz gathered that the ideal marriage age has been extended:
“My parents expect me to marry before 30 at least. I think after 30 is pushing it. They never would really have expected me to be ready before 23 or 24,” says Reema.
“I think, and generally, extended families think, you’re too young if you marry before 25,” says Kam.
“I know people who have married straight after university as it was expected. It is still a norm, but strange. My parents also thought it was weird and forceful,” says Maria.
Many Asian women and men now do not see the need to marry at a young age. Instead, they would prefer to take the time to settle into their careers, be in a position of security and stability and then marry at a much later date.
Expectations of being successful
So, how is success actually defined in Asian culture? This question has mixed results. But all stem from education and profession.
In a western society, there are generally so many more career options available. As a result, some Asian parents have slowly warmed to the idea of their child not doing a Medical or Engineering Degree.
However, the stigma is still embedded.
DESIblitz spoke to Serena, an English student. She told us how people looked down on her for her choice of degree:
“You can almost see it in their eyes when telling another Indian what degree I do.
“Even at university, the Asian students doing Medicine or Dentistry would patronise me and look down on me.”
She further explains how her parents reacted:
“My mum was harder to convince. My dad was happy as long as I was happy.
“But my mum thought about my future. She wanted me to do Maths, as people think you will earn more. I explained how even though I was good at it, I would be miserable forever. She eventually understood.”
Other options outside of university are more popular now. And, not the only way of being successful:
“My mum says she doesn’t mind if my potential husband is not degree educated. As long as he is smart and is reliable in case I am unable to work after having children,” says Priya.
It gets complicated if you are not on the pathway to success. Parents generally expect their child to do well. They don’t have to be ridiculously rich, but aim for at least ‘one star’.
Bal simply describes to DESIblitz, the demand of being successful in his family:
“I told my mum how I didn’t really want to go to university. Long story short, I went to university.”
Expectations for women to bear children
A year into a Desi marriage and the couple will be asked, ‘So, when are you having children?’
This one is still one of the strongest presumptions and expectations of Asian parents. If you are happily married, you will produce kids.
DESIblitz spoke to Diya, who strongly disagrees with this expectation that women should bear children:
“I have two female relatives who are the same age and got married at the same age. One went on to progress substantially in her career, alongside her husband. The other had three children,” she explains.
Diya further adds:
“Everyone asks when the relative with no children will have kids and never congratulate her on how well she’s done professionally.”
“They don’t even consider that maybe they tried to conceive and were unsuccessful.
“No one ever turns around to the other relative with children and asks, ‘But when are you going to work at your career? What will you do after they’ve grown up?’ There’s no expectation there.”
Women are ‘expected’ to have children for multiple reasons. Either to carry on her husband’s family name or, to ‘complete’ her husband. Additionally, to provide her parents and in-laws with grandchildren.
The pressure to have children is still strong within the culture of Asian parents expectations:
“It is a presumption. After about a year of marriage they inquire about the possibility of grandchildren,” says Kam.
“I’ve told my parents that I don’t think I want children, but, they don’t even acknowledge it. They still presume I will have them,” he explains.
How much have expectations changed?
Asian parents who are influenced by western culture, want their children to have the life they never had.
With more options available for their future generations, they push their kids to achieve what they know they are capable of achieving.
There is less pressure to marry so early. But, still strong expectations on doing well and being ‘perfect’.
All things considered, Haleena perfectly describes to DESIblitz, the demanding Asian parents’ expectations:
“My parents expect me to be a superwoman and more. A perfect homely girl who is kick-ass in the office. It’s not as straightforward as they presume. I’m only 21. I didn’t even get time to finish being a child properly.”