Dear All (Immigrant) Asian Parents.

Seeing that the HSC 2010 is “officially” over, I thought I’d share a few thoughts and feelings on the Asian children (with immigrated parents) who have survived this HSC onslaught. Based on my own experiences and what I have seen/witnessed/heard from others.

This isn’t going to be a blog post that teaches you how to parent your kids – I’ll leave teaching your children no drugs, no(t too much) alcohol, and no unprotected sex to you.

But I’ve gone through the HSC stint myself as well as witness my younger brother’s. At the same time I have also witnessed many other experiences from friends and people I know of.

Let’s have some fun.

Currently there will be a mix of emotions flowing around due to receiving HSC results.. you/your kid could be happy, surprised, sad, upset, disappointed, excited, stoked, confused, etc etc..

So the HSC is over, but you’ll soon realise this is just the beginning (+100 points for cliche line). Why? Because after HSC comes the post-HSC decisions, being immigrant Asian parents you’re lying to me (and yourself) if “Go to University” is not on the top selection of your list. Followed by “Become a Doctor/Lawyer” – OK I’m not serious about this second part.

But I’m serious on the post-HSC decisions; right now it’s like the calm before the storm, I’ve seen it too many times and heard it too many times too. There will be a few moments of calm because they do not have to choose immediately what they wish to do in the coming year. But what if they choose not to attend University? Or, they choose to attend University but it’s not the course you want them to study? (Just FYI – the latter is more common).

I’m going to be drawing  a lot of “wisdom” from my mother because to me she is someone who started off as a “typical Asian parent” to someone so open-minded and positively supportive to my brother and myself. She’s also become so influential to her friends and those around her who also have had children complete the HSC.


Why am I throwing these thoughts out? Two(2) reasons:

  1. You, our parents have become the subject of jokes and stereotypes.
  2. Your child(ren) is(are) probably too scared (or can’t be bothered) to tell you.

The Start.

For whatever reason you and your family have immigrated to Australia; to gain Citizenship, lifestyle, education, future opportunities etc.. you would be educating your children with your knowledge of how you grew up, in a context that you were familiar with.

You’ll often tell us one of the following as we’re going through our academic life:

  • “It was so hard for us growing up.”
  • “Your <other parent> and I worked so hard during school.”
  • “Your <other parent> and I were always high achievers.”
  • “Your <other parent> and I sacrificed a lot for you guys to be here.”

The list goes on, but there are two(2) main points you need to know:

  • We KNOW; you tell us every time we do not get 100% in our exams.
  • We can’t fully comprehend, we’re young and we didn’t grow up in that context!

The foundations need to be right before you start building this academic parent-child relationship. If not done properly both parties will suffer implications down the track.

The Comparison.

You (generally) all tend to have a nasty habit, one that really pisses us off (or turns us into douchebags) – you love to compare us with your friend’s child(ren) or your friend’s friend (so on).

We (generally) hate this. Why?

  • Makes us feel shitty and inadequate.
  • You may positively compare us to your friends when we’re not around, but when you tell us it tends to be in the form of: “X’s child is doing SO well, why aren’t you?”

Sometimes it’s OK, friendly banter-style is OK, but it can really get out of hand, and believe it or not it becomes a bad habit for us too. Education is not essentially about competition, I will agree that friendly rivalry/competition is healthy, but anything more than that is not a healthy way to tackle education.

The Purpose.

When we ask (and we will) why we’re studying/working so hard, please explain properly – for our future and to develop our interest(s).

A lot of times growing up, my mother would scold me for not studying and trying to study only when she’s around, just to prove that I am doing some work; her common response will be:

“You are suppose to be studying for yourself, not for me.”

Although the context is a bit different, this is a VERY valid point, why? Because it’s essentially the raw truth. We are studying for ourselves, we are studying to setup the foundations of our future. But you need to explain this properly to us.

And when you do, please remember, it’s for our future – we will decide if we want to be a Doctor or a Lawyer if that is what we really want.

The HSC.

There are two(2) main stages you will go through when parenting us about our mandatory education. First is the Selective School stage and the second is the HSC stage.

During the first stage you will want to push us to get into a Selective School to setup the foundations for our High School (academic) life. This stage could be nonexistent all the way to major for parents. However the second stage; the HSC stage generally will be quite significant for all parents.

We don’t blame you for wanting us to have great education, wanting us to achieve great results, or essentially wanting us to be someone you can be proud of – we really don’t.

The High Schools generally do a very good job at reminding all the children that the HSC is not the end of the world; despite what you guys tell us (yes, my mother at one point did tell me that “.. the HSC is your LAST chance.”).

During this time we go through an immense amount of stress and mix of emotions; generally on the lines of frustration and disappointment. What we really want from you during this time is encouragement and support – the will to cross the finish line at the end of November when exams finish, not your anger and ideals being shoved down our throats.

If we do bad in an exam we’d be disappointed in ourselves, we don’t need you to tell us that you are too.

You're doing it wrong.

Calm before the Storm.

Congratulations, you and your child(ren) have survived the HSC. But before you start telling them how they should play out their next few years, please listen to what they have to say.

Think about it, does it sound reasonable (remove what you think is the ideal future for your child(ren) first)?  If so, take it into consideration, REALLY take it into consideration.

I have heard so many cases of fights and arguments between children and parents because of disagreements as to how they wish to play out their post-HSC life. Most of these are with regards to the subject/course/degree they wish to take at University.

Your child got 99.95 ATAR, congratulations, you should be happy and proud, but it doesn’t mean they have to become a Doctor or Lawyer.

Listen to them, we need your advice and encouragement during this time as much as any other!


I know that some of my views may come off as extreme (and may not apply to your family), but it’s just stuff I’m writing from experience and how I personally feel about these issues.

Whether or not you choose to take them seriously is up to you.

Either way:

Congratulations class of 2010 – you made it!


5 thoughts on “Dear All (Immigrant) Asian Parents.

  1. Well written 🙂
    Now I didn’t go through the HSC (went through QCS, but same diff) but I reckon you’re spot on in many of your points… here is my 2c…

    +1 to ur last quote…
    Getting a high exit mark doesn’t mean you should go and be a doctor/lawyer (unless YOU want to). All it means is you get to pick and chose the course YOU want to do. Don’t listen to all those other people saying “you’re wasting your ATAR/UAI/ITI/OP (whatever it’s called)” … because you’re not wasting it if you chose something you want. If you chose something someone else thinks you should do then that is wasting your exit mark.

    To those parents out there… let your kids do what they are interested in. They will be much happier that way, and that is ultimately what you want right? Happy kids 🙂

    To the class of 2010 … congrats you’ve made it! My biggest advice? Listen to suggestions of those around you, but make the decision for yourself. Chose something you are interested in, something you want to do. You want to be happy (and probably to some extent want your parents to be happy too) and you’ll find that very hard to do if you go and do something that you don’t enjoy or find interest in.

  2. I criticise your whole ‘asian parenting is bad’ opinion. You’re seeing it from a western point of view. In asia this would be considered good parenting. You say asians are narrow minded, but it is in fact you who cannot see things from the other perspective.

    • sukari89 says:

      It’s been awhile since I’ve written this (and re-read it) but keep in mind I am calling out immigrant parents so I have to automatically take a Western view.

      It’s a Western future that their kids are going to participating in (most likely) post-HSC so that’s the context.

      I’m surprised that you would think it’s good parenting to choose a kid’s future for them though?

      • Well you should question your anglocentric and anglophilic views. Western style parenting is not ‘correct’ just because its Western, or just because everyone around you does it. In my opinion good parenting results in happy and successful children. Plenty of children in asia grow up happy and successful. My belief is that the reason why western born asians are discontent with the asian parenting style is not because it is inherently inferior, but because they react to it poorly after being indoctrinated in western views.

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