Hi, my name is Chinkee and my surname is Tan. I think it is pretty obvious that I came from an Asian background. Growing up in a Chinese family, it was never our tradition or culture to be expressive with our feelings.
Chinese people are typically very stoic – and this is true, most especially for Chinese dads. They don’t usually show their emotions and the way that they show love and appreciation is by being a good provider, by providing the family with food, shelter, and education.
When I was a baby, my Dad probably hugged me and said “I love you” to me, but when I was growing up, I never recalled an instance when he gave me a hug and said words of affection and affirmation to me.
I also never realized that I actually needed these things. I just knew that something seemed to be missing in my life when I was growing up, but I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know that it was the lack of affection of my Dad towards me.
As a result, I grew up to be less confident and very insecure. I was always trying to prove myself to others, especially to my family. I would always try so hard to get good grades and prove my worth, yet no matter how hard I tried, it still didn’t seem to reach my Dad’s standards. Nothing was ever enough. He always compared me with my siblings, who were all smarter and more hardworking than me.
And then, in 1992, I had an encounter with God. I received Christ as my Lord and Savior. That was the time when I realized that God loves me, that God has a plan for my life, and that He wants to bless me, prosper me, and take care of me.
That was also the time when I realized and discovered that the reason why my father could not express his love towards me was because he also never received affection or words of affirmation from his own Dad, my grandfather.
The Holy Spirit then told me that in order for me to receive the affection and words of affirmation that I was longing for from my Dad, I needed to first give it to him. It was probably the hardest thing that I ever had to do. It was difficult because in our family, we were not at all expressive with our feelings. It seemed weird to me and I’m sure it would also be very weird for my Dad, since we weren’t used to it. And so one time, while watching TV, I tried to tell my Dad that I loved him, but it was so hard for me to say the words. It only came out in broken sentences. My Dad even asked me, “Okay, what is it that you want to tell me?” But I just couldn’t say it to him directly, so I allowed the moment to pass.
And then, during his 60th birthday, I was given the opportunity to honor him and tell him that I love him. In front of so many people, I approached him, gave him a hug, and told him how much I loved him and appreciated him. I could tell that he was very uncomfortable then. But ever since that time, up to present (my Dad is now 73 years old), for over 13 years, whenever we would see each other, I would always give him a hug and tell him, “I love you”, and he would always hug me back and also tell me “I love you”.
Lesson learned: We can’t expect our fathers to be perfect, because no father is ever perfect. This is the reason why instead of pointing out their mistakes, weaknesses, and shortcomings, we should just try to understand them and look at it from a different perspective.
Have you ever heard of the saying, “you can never give what you do not have”? The reason why your father cannot give you what you’re expecting is because he didn’t experience it for himself either with his own father. Maybe just like what I’ve experienced, it’s time for you to also first give your affection to your Dad, in order for him to give it back to you.
I hope this blog really encourages you.
You can reflect and ask God what you can do in order to honor your father and show your love to him, so that you can also receive love and affection from him.
THINK. REFLECT. APPLY.
When was the last time you honored your father?
When was the last time you hugged and embraced him?
When was the last time you said, “I love you” to him?
If not now, when?
If not you, who?