I recently attended my great aunt’s funeral. In his speech, my uncle stated how he never got to tell his mother that he loved her and that their love was greatly shared with one another through actions rather than words. This statement resonated with me as I started to think about how difficult it is for me to apologize to my family, let alone tell them that I love them. I questioned whether our pride was too great to admit such feelings towards one another. I then quickly realized that this was greater than my family or me, but something that is quite common in the Asian community – but why?
Despite the collectivist culture Asian families tend to carry, the channel of communication still remains quite constrained. While the remarks shared with each other can at times be brutally honest, it seems that when it comes to discussing feelings, emotions, and “touchy” topics such as one’s love life, there is not much shared, and a lot goes unresolved. As I was growing up, I always acknowledged the hard work my parents have done for my family and that they greatly cared for me, but it was never explicitly discussed in the way I would see in the media. Now that I am older, I understand that people share their love in different ways, but I would be lying if I said it did not bother me. I also understand that my life cannot be condensed into an episode of “Full House.” Nevertheless, I am uneasy with the fact that I feel uncomfortable and awkward sharing my feelings with my family, and feel awful when I do not apologize. It is as though whenever apologies are due, they are glossed over, and everyone is supposed to move on as if nothing occurred.
Categorizing this communication as unhealthy does not sit well with me because I feel as though I am betraying and disregarding the many things my parents have done for me. By stating that I want them to validate their love for me through words makes me feel as though I am coming off whiny and ungrateful. However, I am at ease knowing I am not the only one that feels this way. Although actions can and usually do speak louder than words, it is important to express the gratitude you have for your loved ones. Taking a chance and initiating such conversations with your family can only lead toward more progression for not only your own family but for the coming generations.
To be quite honest, I feel silly for even writing this because saying “I love you” should come so naturally to me, and advising open communication within family units seems all too rudimentary. But the fact of the matter my friends is that for many families, it is not very natural or basic at all. I challenge you today- whether you have or have not told them lately, tell your family that you love them, do a nice thing for them, ask them questions, and express your sentiments.