Since being back in Asia, I’m feeling much more appreciative that my kids are here.
Mike’s Blog 172
My buddy Ryan McGuire commented on a recent Facebook video about how these videos are inspiring him and it is hard to believe it is done while also living in China with 2 kids.
Today I’ll weigh in on that.
The past couple weeks have been fun. A bunch of my friends followed the vlog updates while back in the United States of America and got a kick out of me being brave enough to take the kids on the plane without my wife.
Yes, that was intense and exhausting.
And it also made me realize – and appreciate – having my kids in Asia.
Sure, you’re probably curious and maybe even outraged that I would say something like this – so let me explain.
First, yes, I’m still American and I haven’t become a communist. Not sure why when I talk about a place I am from not being a preferred place for a certain activity to be such an outrageous thing. There are great things in my homeland, and today I am just giving an alternative way of thinking and perspective.
Many of my American friends, and friends from around the world – end up in China for a few years, do some business, make some contacts, find a girlfriend / boyfriend, get married, and then go back to their home country to raise the family.
For me, sure, there is that temptation to move back home with the wife and kids. The big one is education quality, language, and costs. Some have the strategy to have their kids grow up for the first few years of their life in Asia, and then once old enough to go to school, move to USA to go into the educational system.
So today I’m talking from the perspective of being a father of kids before they are going into school.
With that out of the way – let’s dig in.
Marrying someone in any culture is also marrying their family. But this is more true in China and many Asian countries. I remember meeting Wendy’s parents for the first time in her hometown of Shenyang and liking their entrepreneurial spirit. Her mom has an acupuncture shop inside their home, and her dad has worked in the restaurant business in the past. It was a great experience to spend with the family there and see how they lived.
We didn’t experience much of the family living with us until Wendy got pregnant. Then a month or so before the due date grandma came, auntie came, and her dad came. This is our 2 bedroom apartment remember! We made it work and everyone found a place to sleep.
After Miles was born, most returned home, but her dad stuck around. And he has been around since. Some say they can’t stand having their in-laws living with them, but maybe I’m just lucky. There have also been the occasions the sister moved in for a couple months, her mom came to stay for a while, aunts, etc.
I think if I hadn’t spent years living in China before, and more open minded “adventurer” or dealing with various cultures and personalities I could see how this would be annoying. Maybe it’s my daily meditation or whatever, but I have just learned to not have to deal with as much personal space. Everything is shared, there are tighter living quarters, etc.
In America, it seems everyone requires much more individuality. Their own room, their own bathroom, their own “space”. And on top of space, also time and things. I noticed that more on my recent trip back, and it has been interesting the clear contrasts I have noticed in these cultures.
It is crazy to me when I think about it. To not have your more shared lifestyle. It even goes down to the food – in USA most of the time you order your own plate of food at a restaurant, you don’t share dishes like you do in China and most of Asia.
Seems I have adapted to this sharing style over the years and learned to live with it. For me, it makes sense that you have various family members help where they can and there is this exchange of “favors” over time.
But it makes more sense then having everyone living by themselves, and then paying for day care, paying for assisted living, paying for cleaning companies, all external third party services. And these are not cheap things either – they can take a whole income from the mother or father of the family.
So basically, instead of having your family live together – you have to work extra overtime or double income salary in order to hire a day care, an assisted living, etc. Why not just have someone stay home with the kids like in Asia? Why not have the family more involved?
Just seems ludicrous to me.
But sure, the worry is the education. That the American educational system is better, as well as cheaper, than in China. And this is a concern that does come up regularly. I am also nervous of my kid’s ability to speak English and my limited time to teach them (as I’m on the road and doing a ton of business).
While many of my American friends leave China at about this time in their life, I am planning to stay for the long term. Or at least let’s say stay in Asia (as who knows if I will always be allowed to remain in China as a US citizen).
Would love to hear your thoughts and perspectives.