Growing up in Indonesia, I don’t really remember hugs, cuddles and the like. Yes, of course, there was the dutiful kiss on the cheek once in a while that felt more like a custom. It is not in our culture to say “I love you.”
In their own way, I know my parents love me and my brothers. We, the children, tended to show our love with actions, such as paying respect to our parents, never arguing or talking back and being, pretty much, good kids.
Our upbringing was laden with disciplines ala Dutch style. My parents were stern and
simply not the type that vocally said how much they loved their children, yet we knew that they did. My family has been very close to one another, there’s no doubt about it, but we just don’t say our feelings out loud.
Our “actions” of love are more often shown through the acts of our teasing.
My family is big in this department. I think it runs in our DNA…my boy surely inherited these traits. My father and my brothers can tease the heck out of me. Just plain being silly and funny, all in good sport. It is our inside joke that if you can’t take it, then you won’t survive as a member of our family.
Growing up, I don’t remember my mother putting me to bed and reading to us. I do, however, remember my aunts telling us stories from the bible.
Being a mother for almost 5 years now, I have come to see how things have changed from my own childhood.
Hugs and kisses and also whispers of “I love you” are plenty and abound. It just feels so natural to tell my son that I love him.
My son loves it when I read to him. The cuddles, oh how I love them! I lie down and rub my son’s back at night. He gives me what I call the world’s best hugs – to which he says, “No, they’re not, Mommy…” and I convince him daily that he does gives me the best big bear hugs.
We profess our love to one another by saying “I love you…” He has ‘infected’ my family with these hugs and kisses as well. My family, who were not used to the whole hugs and kisses and “I love yous”, have changed.
It warms my heart to see my big, macho, tattooed brothers get all mushy when they hug and ask for kisses from my son. And then I hear them saying “I love you…”
My relationship with my son and his affection have been a really sweet and wonderful change in my family’s dynamic, and I love every second of it.
Is your parenting style different compared to the style your own parents used?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Maureen of Indonesia from Tatter Scoops.
Photo credit to William Mahnken. This photo is available for use according to the terms of dreamstime.com.
I grew up with lots of hugs – but I can’t remember my parents ever telling me that they loved me, that does sound quite bad when I write it down like that, but I honestly have never missed that either – I know that they love me and have never doubted it! As that is how I grew up I have never really found it natural to tell my husband that I love him either, I just assumed he knew, but he is used to it being said, so we are both working on understanding eachothers habits and ways.
When it comes to my wee lad, I can’t stop telling him that I love him!
I’m with you…it still feels awkward to me to tell my parents “I love you” face to face because we are just not used to that but for some magic reasons it’s so different when it comes to my son. Thank you for sharing your own experience, Asta 🙂
When my husband (he’s British) met my family and friends in the US, he was surprised by all the hugging and kissing that we do in just greeting and goodbyes. There was definitely a big cultural difference there!
I try to be very open about love to my children (is there a such thing as over kissing and hugging?), and I tell them often how much they mean to me. I think that is common in the US, at least among my mom friends and family, in my experience.
I really like this post, Maureen!
Jen, your comment remind me when I first met my lovely in-laws. They are big on hugs and it’s something I’m not used to but with times I came to love it and even now I still miss my mother in-law’s big comforting hugs. Another thing is the kiss on the cheeks…here in Indonesia we kiss both cheeks but I learned it was different in the States. So yes, I learned a thing and more when I was living there.
I love it…there’s no over kissing and hugging when it comes to our children. Soon they’ll be too embarrassed to be hugged and kissed so I’m loving every minutes where I can still do that without any complaint from my boy.
I’m totally like Asta wrote. My parents never told to any of us that they love us. Almost never hugged us, and I actually do not feel like I miss it. If they did that I would feel it’s unnatural. I’ve got the same issue with my husband. He tells that all the time, I don’t. So we are working on meeting each other somewhere in the middle.
Speaking about my daughter I know I should say that more, but my habbits are sometimes stronger and it’s not that often as I (or my husband) wish it was.
I love how you put it…meet somewhere in the middle. That what makes marriages works out – I guess. Thank you for sharing your own experience.
This is incredibly touching. It’s so wonderful to see that affection worming its way through your whole family. My Indonesian friend here gets impatient with mush and prefers to communicate through teasing.
Oh yes, us Indonesians are big on teasing aren’t we? Teasing is more natural than saying out loud “I love you…” but now I get all mushy inside seeing how my very manly brothers tell my son “I love you” and ask him for a hug and a kiss.
What a wonderful post! Thanks so much for sharing! My experience is similar in a way – My parents loved me but we did not do a lot of hugging and kissing…..one peck on the cheek each nite bfore bed or when we greeted grandmom upon her arrival….although my sister and I KNEW we were loved. I tell my children daily that “I love you” kiss them as they go off to school and hugs abound in our home – I want them to feel surrounded by their parents love each day! It gives me a good feeling to know I am teaching my children to FREELy express love and I believe it will make them more secure adults!
peace and blessings always
Hi Jaelma (very pretty name btw!) I love that, teaching our children to freely express love. Being a single mother, for me it’s important to let my son knows that he is loved by everyone in his life even when now he have two homes. Having him totally change my life and my family’s life as my parents and brothers even aunts get more accustomed to saying “I love you” to my son which is a lovely feelings. Thank you for sharing Jaelma 🙂
There are some things we do the same as my parents and some we do differently. I do make a point of telling our boys how much I love them – every day, we’ve bed-shared the last six years and that has been great for extra cuddles.