4 Things I'm Embarrassed to Share About Living with My Chinese In-Laws | Speaking of China

34 Responses

  1. Autumn
    Autumn March 28, 2016 at 7:27 am | | Reply

    LOL, you do laundry like Andy. Except I’m willing to bet that you really do forget to collect it from the washer, whereas I suspect Andy “forgets” so I will finish doing the laundry for him.

    Only problem is that he sometimes forgets to tell me he put in laundry while I’m gone and it sits in the washer for days. MILDEWING!

    I don’t get red envelopes. 🙁 Jealous.

  2. Hope Townsend
    Hope Townsend March 28, 2016 at 9:56 am | | Reply

    Wow… it’s great you have so supportive in-laws.

    But I don’t think I could handle someone else doing my laundry and cooking. When my Filipino husband and I first got married, my sister-in-law kept taking over the cooking – she wouldn’t let me do it and she wouldn’t teach me how to cook Filipino dishes. This left me feeling totally useless as a wife, because I wanted to fulfill the role of taking care of my husband (an important element of the culture here).

    When we moved out and built our own home things radically changed for the better. We now have privacy and can really relax together.

    But each to his own of course! You have done really well to adjust to such a profoundly different environment to that in America.

  3. Liu
    Liu March 28, 2016 at 11:22 am | | Reply

    True that, typical Chinese parents, last time my girlfriend and I visited my parents , they took care of almost everything(of course, I, as an “typical” Chinese kid, was and still am used to that), and before we left, she tried to give my girlfriend somethinkg like 5000 yuan.

    She did not take it of course, “not their custom” I explained. lol

  4. Ava
    Ava March 28, 2016 at 11:59 am | | Reply

    Hi Jocelyn. I really enjoyed reading this. Did you just get like the nicest in-laws in China or what? (-:

  5. Nicki Chen
    Nicki Chen March 28, 2016 at 12:26 pm | | Reply

    You’re lucky to have such wonderful in-laws, especially with your mother-in-law cooking three meals a day.

    I didn’t spend much time with my Chinese in-laws, although when we visited, they were very hospitable. My husband and I spent more time with my parents. When we lived in the Philippines, we stayed with my parents for a couple of weeks every couple of years during our home leave. They kept two extra bedrooms ready for us and the three girls. My mom cooked most of the meals with my help. (I always feel most at home in my own kitchen.)

    I don’t have any trouble having someone wash my clothes. When I visit my youngest daughter (the cleanest one in the family) she washes my clothes with hers and brings them back to me folded.

  6. Our Chinese Wedding
    Our Chinese Wedding March 28, 2016 at 7:25 pm | | Reply

    Hey Jocelyn, great post as always! Just wanted to let you know I have also nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award – thanks for being the grandmistress of AMWF blogs and thanks for introducing me to all the wonderful WWAMs in this world!

  7. Olga
    Olga March 28, 2016 at 8:47 pm | | Reply

    I share the four points with you, Jocelyn!(and it is, indeed, somewhat embarrassing). I see now that many Chinese in laws will do whatever it takes to spoil us. My father in law, for example, will sometimes go out early in the mornings to get us something delicious for breakfast, as well as 火龙果 for me (my favourite fruit and utterly tasteless when I buy it imported in my country). He cleans, sweeps the floors, and generally keeps the house neat and spotless. He’s like a cleaning hurricane, leaving no trace of the toys/crayons of our kids.

    My mother in law, on the other hand, locks herself in the unbearably hot kitchen (in an already unbearably hot Nanjing) and cooks healthy meals, as well as doing other housework and taking care of my brother in law’s little boy.

    Never, not even once, do they complain to anybody nor ask for gratitude. They fully sacrifice themselves in the most discrete way, but the effect of their actions is greater, like a sort of domestic “为无为”.

    We’ll be in China for the summer, ready to be spoilt rotten again (I feel guilty for that, already).

  8. James
    James March 29, 2016 at 1:38 am | | Reply

    My wife’s parents had long since passed away when we married, and her second mother lived with her fifth younger brother, so there was never a parent’s home in the countryside. However, that never prevented the rest of the family showing us hospitality similar to that you describe. When we went to fifth younger sister’s home in a compound for retired military, third younger brother’s home in Alhambra, fourth younger brother’s home in Monterey Park, or our “ch’in chia (qin jia)” stepson’s wife’s parent’s home high up on the slopes of Kuan Yin Shan outside of Taipei, everyone went well out of their way to see that we were comfortable and well fed, and that I was never left out of the conversation with the language changed from Mandarin to Minnan.

    Our experience in China is a reflection on Western and American ideas of the individual and the community. A lot of the angst of young Americans may start with the separation anxiety forced upon us by our culture, that pushes us apart instead of drawing us in together, and by the pounding refrain of compete, compete, compete, which early on sets us against one another (Chinese usually wait until they get into business). Western philosophy’s preoccupation with the individual over the group, existence before essence, alters our social relations everywhere we turn. Chinese would just laugh at Sartre and tell us the essence and existence go together.
    Don’t be embarrassed about all this. Step back far enough to see both cultures in clear perspective. And next time post about all the things you have discovered you can do to return their kindness to your family.

    You are blessed to be experiencing “essence” together with “existence.” Enjoy.

  9. AG
    AG March 29, 2016 at 3:08 am | | Reply

    Great care from parents never end in China. But some time that leads to downfall of self-care ability of their children. Never grown up even in college.

    Looks like another Western woman joined the club here.


  10. Holly Hollins
    Holly Hollins March 30, 2016 at 1:56 am | | Reply

    I think it’s interesting that somehow it is part of Chinese hospitality, right? Also, has to do with being family as well. Parents are still there to try to “help” you out. I do agree of the embarrassment when your mother-in-law finishes your laundry. It’s the same embarrassment I felt last year when my dad cleaned my bedroom at home when I lived at school. or when my dad folds all the laundry in the laundry room, including mine. T-T (only does this when he’s tired of how messy the laundry room is.

    I’m finally going to China this summer (study abroad in Shanghai)! So, I am expecting hospitality from my long-time friend’s family when I stay with him and his parents in Chongqing. (This will be after my program ends on June 6, and will be in Chongqing till June 14th, leaving back to the US on the 15th.). I know I will be spoiled when I arrive in Chongqing and I’m not ready for that. (Knowing my friend for over 7 years, he is almost like my brother and he comes from a prominent family, and I never once used him for his family’s money.)
    I can’t accept money, maybe gifts. Every time my friend and I talk on the phone I argue with him and tell him I don’t want him to pay for my round-trip flight from SH to CQ and he’s telling me no worries. I eventually gave up.

    I think it’s more of a mutual benefit, you help them out and they help you out, it’s beneficial.

    or in your case, actions speak louder than words, because that’s love from your mother-in-law doing your laundry. 🙂

  11. Traveller at heart
    Traveller at heart March 30, 2016 at 2:02 am | | Reply

    Jocelyn, I have been following your blog for some time now. Remember, I emailed you last year that I had read every single posts on your blog.

    I’m not surprised that John’s family has been so helpful and hospitable towards you. You deserve it.

    P/S There are meaty posts of substance on your blog; from yourself and other bloggers. Thank you so much for the share. I also enjoyed your post on 5 things you leart from the Chinese countryside etc. Life’s simplest pleasures.

  12. Jonathan
    Jonathan March 30, 2016 at 7:23 am | | Reply

    LOL. So true! My parents still do our laundry, do all the dishes and cook for us whenever we visit them. They do the same when they come to visit us. Only exception is the laundry since they are not familiar with the washing machine we use. My mom always say, “you don’t know how I clean dishes! I like it my way.” It’s tiring to argue with her. The money thing also. They always try to give us money. I was like, “Mom, we are the one making money now!” oh well…. guess it’s a good problem to have!

  13. Susan Blumberg-Kason
    Susan Blumberg-Kason March 30, 2016 at 8:32 pm | | Reply

    Your inlaws are so sweet! They feel like it’s their duty to their son. I had the same experience when I was married to “Cai” in that my inlaws sacrificed their happiness and well-being to drop everything to help us in the US. They kept telling me it’s their duty. I know it helped us out a ton. But my mom also went way above and beyond and she’s not Chinese. She quit her job when I moved back home so she could help me with Jake. My parents renovated their basement to add a bedroom and full bathroom so my uncle could move down there when Jake and I took over his room and bathroom upstairs. Parents show their love in many ways!

  14. Marta
    Marta March 31, 2016 at 3:10 pm | | Reply

    Every time we travel somewhere, my bf’s parents stay in our apartment to take care of the dog. Every time when I come back there is some surprise… his mum either washed the curtains and cushions, or cleaned the kitchen’s smoke extractor, or filled the fridge with food… There are two ways of reacting to this: one, feeling offended that they think you are still a child who cannot do anything, or two, accepting that that’s how they are hahaha. I go with option two…

  15. Jessica P
    Jessica P March 31, 2016 at 8:44 pm | | Reply

    Wow, your mother-in-law actually uses a washing machine? My parents-in-law own a washing machine, but rarely use it. When we stay with them, my mother-in-law insists on doing my laundry as well, but by hand! She says she doesn’t need a washing machine because “我就是洗衣机” (she is the washing machine). I have tried to stop her, but it’s no use. Once when she was washing my clothes, she found a pair of my underwear had a hole in it, so she bought me new ones, talk about embarrassing!

  16. Mary
    Mary April 1, 2016 at 12:56 am | | Reply

    Awww I don’t know if this is embarrassing! I think parents will always be parents no matter what (when I go home to visit and attempt to do my own laundry, my mom will scoop up my clothes from the dryer and fold them on my bed before I can even get to it!).

    In America living with your parents until your early 30s isn’t as taboo as it used to be (it’s hard to stake out a living these days), so I think times are changing.

    I think my boyfriend and I will experience all of the above things with his Chinese in-laws sooner or later. They already cook and clean our house for us every time they come down to visit. I wish I could say I was embarrassed, but I’m actually really happy to be spoiled once in a while!

  17. K.
    K. April 24, 2016 at 5:17 pm | | Reply

    The hongbao was new one for me this year. The day my boyfriend and I were leaving, his mom handed me a hongbao with 1000 rmb! I got very flustered because of massive amounts of guilt – she always does so many wonderful things for me, takes care of me even though we aren’t officially family (yet) and everything I try to do nice for her just pales in comparison. I’m am UNWORTHY! 🙁

    1. Autumn
      Autumn April 24, 2016 at 10:03 pm | | Reply

      Hey, K, maybe the guilt will dissipate if you think of that hong bao as an advanced payment. You will undoubtedly earn it by patiently withstanding the onslaught of questions such as, “Are you pregnant?” “Are you pregnant YET?” “WHY aren’t you pregnant yet?” “Eat this food, it will help you get pregnant.” “Did you eat the food I told you about? Here, have some more!” and the inevitable “Where’s my grandson?!”

      Or maybe you will have nicer in-laws than me. If so, please make up some horror stories. 🙂

  18. Vyara
    Vyara August 24, 2016 at 3:59 am | | Reply

    Very interesting read Jocelyn. I always love your honestly and interesting writing. 🙂 🙂 🙂 xoxoxo

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