I don't know why I keep blogging about Asian people. It just worked out that way, I guess. Last post about Asian people for awhile, I promise. *peace sign*
Okay, so, let me tell you about something that bothers me.
And bear with me here.
About a year ago, I was hanging out at a friend's house. No big deal. I think we were having a Games Night of some sort. But, anyway. It was an evening where I was hanging out with some of my friend's friends, who were a bit older than me. Most of these individuals were in their mid/late twenties. I think the oldest guy there was about 28. Which, whatever. I didn't mind. They were cool people. And it was a fun night.
But, ever meet certain people who just rub you the wrong way? I was chatting with one of the guys sitting near me, and he was telling me about how he had just bought his own place. A condo downtown, you know? Awesome. It's always nice to hear people getting places downtown.
But, this is when I started getting annoyed. Aside from the fact that I already privately thought he was a cocky, self-indulgent narcissist, he leaned over and started talking about a mutual friend of ours. In the absolute worst way possible.
Our mutual friend is in his late 20s. He's a really nice guy. He`s Chinese. A little quiet. But really cool. He works downtown, plays sports, into video games. The usual. But, you see. Here's the thing. Mutual Friend still lives at home with his parents.
So Cocky Narcissist (hereafter known as CN) leans over and says, "What is it about Asian men living at home even when they're older? The guy is 27 years old. Why doesn't he move out? I always notice this with my Asian friends, I don't understand it. That's weird, man. And kind of gross."
I had to resist the urge to lean over and smack him.
Here`s another story. I have another friend in his late 20s. Pretty cool guy. I`ve known him for years. Our families are friends. He`s Filipino. Etcetera. He works downtown, plays sports. He`s into boxing, video games. The usual. But, again. Here`s the thing. Friend lives at home with his parents. And has no plans on moving out.
Except, he`s been getting tremendous flak from the guys at work. Apparently, it`s "weird" that he doesn`t have his own place now that he`s older. Why aren`t you moving out already? You`re 28 years old, why don`t you live on your own? Why do Asian men tend to live at home longer than they're quote on quote "supposed to"?
By all means, I know this "living at home" business isn`t a racial thing. I know this can be an issue with non-Asian 20-somethings in general, men or women. But, for the sake of specificities, cultural implications, and focus for this blog post, I`ll deal with Asian men for now. And, mostly for the sake of dealing with the comments of the above mentioned CN, I`ll deal with Asian men for now.
In this grad life of ours, as we grow up, and many of us move away from home, I notice that we tend to pass (often negative) judgement on those who still live with their parents. Unemployed? Lazy? Gluttons who mooch off their parents? You know it crossed your mind. And I find that this sort of judgement is, at times, harsher on men.
But, see, sometimes actual reality is far from that judgement.
Let me clarify and explore a few issues here.
First, I'm not surprised (though nevertheless annoyed) that people make this a gender issue. Why zero in on men? If a 28 year old woman still lives with her parents, would it still be this much of an issue? The individuals I mentioned above don't seem to be harassing women in their late 20s about moving out, why are men being pressured to move out instead? Particularly by their friends? Is it some kind of "man thing" to have your own condo by the time you're 28 years old?
Oh, god. Please. Spare me the gender specific responsibilities. I already get enough flak from people who think I shouldn't go to law school because I'm a girl.
Second, and more pertinent to what I want to focus on today, I was initially surprised (or maybe not?) that people make this a cultural issue. Like I said above, isn't the move-out-you're-getting-old issue pertinent to any 20-something, regardless of cultural background? Yet, I've started to notice that people tend to assume that Asians are more likely to live at home in their later 20s than their non-Asian counterparts. Is there some truth to this?
And, in response to CN's comments above, are Asian men more likely to live at home in their late 20s (versus non-Asian male counterparts)? And if so, why?
Well, let's try to answer that.
Because, well, it`s funny. I find it ironic that my friend described above gets flak from his coworkers about moving out, yet doesn't hear a word of it from his parents. You`d think it would be the other way around, no? That his parents would kick him out because he's older, self-sufficient, and therefore ready to move out? Yet, from what I`ve witnessed with my own friends and family (and, uh, I have a lot of Asian friends), Asian parents don`t tend to mind if their 20-something son still lives at home with them. Even when they've reached their 30s.
In response to CN's comments above....
The truth is, Mom and Dad don't mind if he stays home. He may have a job, a steady income, and with the capacity to move out - but, he wants to live at home. And he most likely will for another little while, until he finds a reason to move out (i.e. job location, school, or perhaps just an urge for independence). Of course, if their son wants to move out, his parents wouldn't stop him. But, in general, I don`t think I`ve heard a story where Asian parents harass their sons to move out simply because of his age or because he has a steady income.
I have a 30 year old friend. Asian. Male. Still living with his parents. Perhaps even until he gets married. And both parties are completely content with the arrangement.
Some people find that disgusting. Or disturbing. I find it normal. His friends, of course, make fun of him mercilessly for living with his parents when he's clearly an adult. He makes good money. He has a steady job. So why doesn't he move out, you know?
We tend to assume that people live at home with their parents because they have no other choice. That they don't have the income to move out, that they just don't have the ability (yet) to independently buy their own property. That they would rather live elsewhere than home. (And sure, in many cases, this could totally be the reason why they stay at home). But the thing is, others who have the ability to be self-sustaining have a choice. And sometimes, they choose to live with their parents. Because they want to.
Can't you be independent and live with your parents? Can't you have a job, pay for your meals, pay for your clothing (or whatever independence entails) and stick close to your family?
Is that such a foreign concept?
I hesitate to make this a cultural thing. But I kind of, sort of, will. I think the pressure to move out for 20-something Asians is lower in Asian families, simply because of the huge emphasis placed on collectivity and family. To put it bluntly, culturally, I've noticed that many Asian parents see their children living with them until marriage (and even beyond that). Of course, if their kids want to move out, they wouldn`t stop them. If their son or daughter wants to move downtown for work purposes, or for other reasons, they wouldn't stop them. But, until their children make that choice, or until it's absolutely necessary, Asian parents quite rarely kick their children out of the house simply because the closeness of family will always come first. We've heard enough about Confucianism.
In response to CN's comments....
I don't think our mutual friend is weird at all. Sure, he has a steady job. Sure, he could move out if he wanted to. But he doesn't because his family is closer than you know. Because he loves his sisters and wants to watch them grow up. Because he would rather stick around and live with the comfort of his parents. He'll move out when he wants to, got that?
Reader, does this sound weird to you? From what I`ve witnessed growing up, it`s completely normal to see Asian men and women in their late 20s still living with their parents at home until the day they get married or move in with a significant other. It wasn`t until people started pointing out its "weirdness" that I started thinking about the cultural implications of all this. I've stressed enough times on this blog how important and emphasized family values are to Asian families. On keeping the family together.
So, why the hate and ridicule placed on Asian men (or, I guess, to a lesser extent, women) who live at home? If they choose to do so, is it really our place to pass negative judgement? It irritates me, it really does.
Third, on the practical level, on the whole, living at home is the cheaper, no? So, why the hate on living at home when you're older? If it saves money, cut these guys some slack, yea?
So the next time you encounter a friend (or, anyone, really) living at home - think twice before you judge them as lazy, good-for-nothing, unemployed sloths. There may be other reasons why they live with their parents. To some people, family is more important than you know.
But, anyway, I guess that`s my semi-defense of 20-something Asian men still living at home. I understand you, friends. I really do!
"I don't care how poor a man is; if he has family, he's rich."
- Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford, "Identity Crisis," M*A*S*H
"Our most basic instinct is not for survival, but for family. Most of us would give our own life for the survival of a family member, yet we lead our daily life too often as if we take our family for granted."
- Paul Pearshall
"The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never even introduce yourself to, had life not done it for you."
- Kendall Hailey, The Day I Became an Autodidact