Who’s your daddy?

The top 10 ways you know your dad is Asian

Images by Stacy Nguyen and Thi-Le Vo

Images by Stacy Nguyen and Thi-Le Vo

By Vivian Luu
Northwest Asian Weekly

He critiques every grade on your report card, even over a fraction of a point. He makes your boyfriend or girlfriend tremble at the twitch of an eye. He can get his Toyota Camry across three lanes on the highway, but only after cutting off at least 10 other cars.

He is, of course, the Asian father.

It seems that Asian fathers came into this world with their own set of quirks that distinguish them from other fathers — their uncanny voices, their terrorizing disciplinary actions, their quirky obsessions. At the same time, they are capable of holding onto a special place in the heart.

At the end of the day, the things that Asian fathers do leave us nodding our heads in disapproval while keeling over and laughing hysterically.

The top 10 ways you know your dad is Asian

10: He slaps your cell phone out of your hand when you try to use the calculator function to figure out how much to tip the waiter.

9: He has a karaoke machine that still uses laserdiscs.

8: He only drinks what he believes is the best beer: Heineken.

7: He never acknowledges being wrong, and he certainly doesn’t apologize for it.

6: He doesn’t believe in giving kids an allowance.

5: He doesn’t think anyone will ever be good enough for you.

4: He attempts to fix all household appliances, even when the manufacturer’s guidelines suggest seeking professional help.

3: He’s strict — his-way-or-the-highway strict.

Some fathers don’t like their children staying out later than 7 p.m. on a week night. Some force-feed their kids broccoli for dinner. Others calmly watch as their children’s significant others tremble at their feet.

However, when you’re the child of an Asian father, you have no curfew because you can’t go anywhere. You will eat your snow peas for dinner. Even when you’re an adult, don’t you dare bring home your new girlfriend or boyfriend unless you’re planning on marrying him or her in the near future.

Former President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Asian fathers carry a big stick to beat their children into shape. They don’t speak softly.

For an Asian father, going out is only acceptable if you tell him exactly where you’re going, provide him with an address and a phone number for that location, and tell him exactly when you’re coming home. As an added bonus just for being his son or daughter, he’ll give you a time you’ll need to be home by — a time that is adjustable and subject to mood.

Many Asian families share multiple dishes for dinner. While this cuts down on cooking time for mothers, it’s intended to be a family bonding experience. So if you’re not going to eat what Mom cooked up, even though it may look inedible, you’re out of luck — if Dad eats it, you eat it.

Don’t plan on bringing your significant other home to show Dad either. You’ll likely end up sitting in the living room (that your family never really uses), sipping oolong tea for four hours while your Asian father grills your boyfriend or girlfriend with tough questions.

These include, “Are you going to school?” “What do your parents do?” and “Will you be getting my child’s wedding ring at Tiffany and Co.?” If you think that’s awkward, wait until you talk to your significant other … that is, if he or she hasn’t already run away screaming.

2: The rules of the road don’t apply to him.

The Clash once sang, “I fought the law and the law won.” Well the law has a new contender: Asian fathers.

A stop sign might be propped up at every intersection, but Asian fathers won’t pause for a second — they’re just too important to take directions from a red, hexagonal sign.

Parking on the street may not be free until after 6 p.m., but Asian fathers leave the meters empty, confident that no traffic officer would dare to ticket their cars.

When it comes to speeding, Asian fathers take home the blue ribbon. Cruising at 80 mph in a 60 mph zone is no big deal.
It’s amazing how Asian fathers got their licenses in the first place, because they seem to have no respect for road signs, street lights, and interestingly enough, other drivers. Getting to their destination in record time is more important (Who knows? They could be going for a personal best to get from Kirkland to Seattle in 20 minutes).

1: He inquires about the missing point when his child comes home with 99 percent.

Asian kids might seem have a knack for getting high grades in school, but only their fathers will be the true judge of that.

Traditional Asian culture embraces academic success. In many cases, doing well in school is the only way for a person to advance in life. We’ve seen the movies and read the folklore: The peasant boy makes his way to the great kingdom and serves as one of the king’s highest ministers, all by going to school, practicing his calligraphy instead of playing during recess, and doing his homework by candlelight after feeding the oxen.

All right, that’s a little too old for today’s conventions. But the idea still sticks. Asian parents (especially fathers) want their children to excel in school and for them, nothing but the best will do.

So it doesn’t matter if you play varsity tennis or are the captain of your school’s debate team — without a 4.0, your social life is a no-go. ♦

Vivian Luu can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

2 Responses to “Who’s your daddy?”

  1. sophia says:

    lol- totally my dad. he totally freaks out on #1. and #10- rule is i won’t get a boyfriend until i’m 30. if i disobey them- it’ll go up 10 years. lol

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