Asian Shame Culture: Your Parents Didn’t Teach You Right

You are a bad person because those around you are also bad.

It’s been almost two months since I began teaching online. In a short time, I’ve developed a fondness for this particular material. It has become my go-to whenever I come across a new student above the legal age.

Me: Humans can understand the concepts of good and evil from an early age.

She: I agree.

Me: Oh? Why?

She: From an early age, children are already learning good and evil from their parents. Parents may punish them for breaking things and reward them for finishing their food.

Me: I see. So you believe young children’s concept of good and evil is solely influenced by their parents?

She: Yes. They model after their parents. So whatever the parents do, the children will mimic. For example, if their parents have bad habits like smoking, drinking or gambling, they will also learn to do those things.

Me: I see. So do you think parents should be fully responsible for their children’s behaviour?

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash


In the Eastern part of the world, the idea of outside influence being the major determinant of one’s action is widely recognized.

Perhaps, that’s also the reason why in Japan, a lawbreaker’s family must move to the countryside or a whole other prefecture just to disassociate from the shame brought onto the family.

There were also several instances where the offender’s siblings are laid off or turned away from interviews.


She: Teenagers are influenced by the people around them because they care a lot about their image. They worry about what people think about them, so if their friends think smoking is cool, they will start to smoke too.

Me: And once they have grown into adulthood, they wouldn’t be influenced as much?

She: Yes. When you are an adult, you care less about what people think.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


Looking around, I thought about the power of social media, celebrities and advertisements.

Are their influence radius only within the confine of teens?

Is our maturity a shield? Are we immune?

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