What made him truly Thai?

A lot of popular Thai celebrities are half Thai, including actresses, models, singers, musicians, and athletes. The first year that I lived in Thailand, two international celebrities, who were both half Thai, visited the country. The Thai media made a very big deal out of these visits and the country was obviously proud of its “Thai children” who had achieved international success. I was talking to a coworker about one of these celebrities (a very well known athlete), who was half American/ half Thai. My coworker told me that when she lived in L.A. she used to go to the Thai temple and she often saw this guy at the temple before he became very, very famous. She went on to say that he was “truly Thai.” I found this very curious and asked how she could say that he was truly Thai when his father was American, he had never lived in Thailand, and he could barely speak the Thai language. I asked her, “What made him truly Thai?” She answered, “he feared his mother.”

17 responses to “What made him truly Thai?

  1. I watched a movie about his life in TV before. You are right about his reverence for his mother. But if real life, I wonder. Now that his less dependence of the parents, things may have changed.

  2. So who is he?????? Inquiring minds wanna know!

    Wit ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Wit, it has to be Tiger Woods, I would think.
    Nal, I love that “fear his mother”!!!

  4. With that criteria, a lot people would turn out to be Thai then!

  5. So, if you’re not afraid of your mom, then you’re not Thai ??? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Let me add. The proper word to use is probably “respect”. Respecting your parents is one trait that Thai people believe in.

  7. Respecting your parents is a Thai trait. Why do some people think only thais respect their parents. Maybe if more Thai parents respected their kids they would havee to teach them to show respect.
    The Tiger thing….sure he’s real Thai. An black man from America. He couldn’t get a job in this country with skin like that.

  8. Cotties, I’m not saying that it’s only Thais that respects their parents. Often this can be found in many Oriental countries such as China, Japan, Korea, etc.

    But let’s see, I’ve been living in the US for the past 22 years. I actually grew up here and I’ve seen and heard a lot. So, I’ll pick America for my example.

    I’d say that “respecting your parents” is not something American people teach or tell their kids. If so, not much.

    How many times have you seen kids calling their parents by their names. How many times have you seen kids yell back at their parents. How many times have you seen kids make fun of their parents. I can go on and on about this.

    If you were a Thai kid and did any of the above, you’ll proably got a fist in your face. I know Thai kid who was born here in the US did.

    Thai kids are very much taught that it’s the proper thing to respect your parents, that is to try to do what they wish, be polite to them, listen to them, honor them etc.

    Remember, if not for our parents, most of us probably would not be alive today. You owe them your lives, therefore, it’s your duty to respect them.

    This is something that is often taught in Thai culture in places like homes and schools.

    You’re saying

    “Maybe if more Thai parents respected their kids they would havee to teach them to show respect”.

    Yeah, but what have the kids done to deserve their respects ? , let me ask a question back to you.

    Your parents don’t owe you their lives, they were not fed by you when they were raising you. They were not protected by you when they were raising you.

    Those are somethings you do after you become adults. You pay them back and that’s when you “start” to “earn” their respects. If not, then you DON’T deserve their respects and anybody elses’ respects.

    Don’t just ask for respect. It’s something that you must earn by your actions. People that want others’ respects should look and see if they’ve done anything to deserve the respects they want.

    That’s how the Thais teach their kids.

  9. How many times have you seen kids calling their parents by their names.

    Such a disrespect, oh my! ๐Ÿ™‚ Seriously, I think you are judging the book by the cover, Sam. Although I’ve never seen it, and certainly haven’t done it, to me it’s merely unusal, not a sure sign of disrespect.

    Although respect is the same feeling everywhere you go, the way to show it varies culture by culture. Thais and other Asians may look at a Farang girl hugging her mom in public with disapproval, thinking “how disrespectful’, while Farang moms would be horrified to see Thai kids prostrating in front of their parents like some sort of lowly slaves.

    In fact, both kinds of actions are guided by love and respect, and no one is in the position to pass judgement which way is better. Both ways of upbringing have postive and negative effects.

    I’ve lived in aThai family home, and one general complaint I heard from Thai children is the lack of visible affection from their parents. You can’t just tell a kid ‘your mom and dad takes care of you, therfore they love you’ and expect him/her to feel love from that rational explanation. They need hugs, gentle strokes, touch, sweet words and all other signs of affection to actually feel being loved. I think that Thai culture takes the concept of respect a bit too far, to the point where natural parental emotions of love towards their children are repressed.

    but what have the kids done to deserve their respects ?

    That’s a strange question. I couldn’t treat parenting as a rigid, business-like give-and-take, expecting my children to give me something first, before I want to “return the favor”.

    With all respect, I’m glad my parents thought different than you do. I think that such line of thinking may be one of the reasons why there are so many nursing homes in America. In case you didn’t notice, Thai children do get respect in society, for no other reason but because they are children. Take the example of adults giving up their seats for both the elderly and for children. Something you don’t see in the West, and no-one questions what the kids have done to deserve the favor.

  10. SiamJai, you’re right about the way respects are perceived differently in different places. And I must say my example regarding American kids calling their parents by their names is probably not a good example because this surely doesn’t mean the kid lacks respect in “America”. However, if the kids were Thai, that’s a disrespect in any book.

    Oh, I’ve seen many occurrences of this, I’m surprised you havn’t !

    Now, regarding your comment about Thai kids complaining that they lack visible affection from their parents, I find that it is probably more true regarding the fathers than the mothers.

    I grew up with my grandparents. My granddad was very old fashion and he was not the type who would be sitting and talking and joking with his kids. Much less hugging and kissing, although he definitely was kind and loving to them. My grandmom was very loving and affectionate. My wife’s mom is the sam way and I can say that to my aunts and many other ladies I know. Fathers of today are becoming more like the moms. I’m not gonna say that I disagree with you since different families are surely “different” but most of the moms I’ve known are pretty affectionate toward their children.

    BTW, a thai son/daughter can hug their moms in public without any disapproval, it’s just they don’t do it much. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

    From your writing, I feel that you still have a long way in understanding the way Thais show respects toward their parents.

    A Thai kid who respect his/her parents do not have to be prostrating or acting like a slave to their parents. This is a misconception. What you stated are probably of cases where the kids are “afraid” of their parents, rather than respecting them. Thai kids are often taught to do what their parents told them to, to be “afraid” of them, but this has nothting to do with respect. I’ll get into this later.

    Let me give you a “hopefully good” example of a proper respect.

    A Thai dad wanted his son to do something he doesn’t like. The son refused and they started arguring. Out of respect, even thought the son was very upset, he kept his manner under control and did not raise his voice at his dad. He tried to politely argue his reasons to his dad.

    Now, let me give you another example of kids who are “afraid” of their parents.

    A Thai mom wanted her son to stop seeing his girlfriend because she does not like her. He complied. He may argue and wine and “yell” back but he complied. He’s afraid of his mom.

    You see the differences ? I think you’ve missunderstood what “respecting your parents” is and got confused with “being afraid of your parents”.

    Some households teach their kids to be “afraid” of their parents while other teach them to “respect” their parents. You’ll often seen grown up who are “afraid” of their parents. Don’t confuse this with respect, however. They’re different.

    Respect means that you listen to your parents but you’re not forced to do everything they tell you as if you were a slave.

    The question I asked back

    “what have the kids done to deserve their respects ?”

    If you think carefully, you won’t say it’s a strange question after all.

    Thank about it, respect is something you earn from your action. You’re not gonna get my respect just because you’re my kid. If you were my kid and you’ve become a thief, or a liar, should you earn my respect or anyone’s ? Heck no !!!

    I am a buddhist and I respect monks that are venerable, those that show or perform good deeds or follow the teaching of the Buddha strictly. I don’t respect “all” the people who wear yellow ropes. I may put my hands together and lower my head as a good gesture but I won’t give them full respect until I see what good they’ve done.

    Respects are earned by your actions. You just don’t get it automatically.

    Just like the Thai people respect their King because they know that he’d worked hard all his life to help the people of Thailand. He earned their respects. When he visted the poor farmers, they “gladly” bow their heads and get on their knees. Not because they had to, but because they wanted to since they respect him.

    I understand that it may be a little hard for you to under the “concept” even though it may sounds easy to understand. It’s actually not. Often people confuse respect with “fear”.

    And you’re wrong regarding the way you thought my parents taught me. They taught me to have respects, not fear.

    Respect is not “fear”. When you do things because you’re afraid, you’re “forced” to do it. But when you do things out of respect, you “want” to do it. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

  11. well, I just wanted to say, that I was born and raised in Canada and my parents are Thai. I grew up with the spirit and the values of being thai,the respect toward each other and on and on…I don’t mean to complain but, so what if you’re born in U.S.A., france or whatever. Being thai is more than just a frontier.Yeah, i’m lucky: I do speak Thai. You don’t have to speak thai to be thai, just understand the culture. In Canada, there’s is a lot of “white” kids who praticed Muay Thai, but more than that, they study the philosophies of it. Being Thai is a part of my education and who I am, nobody cant take that away from me, even if there a poeples who say that im not a real one. yeah I know, North Amrican culture is also a part of me ,so what, I have 2 cultures in me, I feel rich and open-minded. we even have a picture of the King at my parent’s house. Younger, I wondered who he was… But I did some reaserch,…Even if i have never set foot to thailand (but i’m planning to do), I considered myself not only canadian, but a canadian with thai values… So who we are to judge a thai descent, we should be proud of it…
    Anyway in this world, the only thing that is real is humanity itself…

  12. My two bahts worth. Why o why do Thais{I do love the people} have to brain wash themselves into believing they respect elders more then our{my} western society. To say that a Thai has more respect for his/her parents than I have for mine is just crazy talk. It’s not the fact its one of our commandments. Not because my parents worked so much harder than many of my thai neighbours to give me more choices in life.Not because they had to teach me. It’s because they always showed love without me owing them anything. Respect is understanding love.

  13. Coties,

    To answer your question as to why, you need only to look around.

    It’s not easy to understand the Thai society and their teachings without being born into it. You may be able to observe and learn but to understand it, have it in your heart, you’ll need more than that.

    Not every Thai kids respect their parents, and not every household teaches respects, but they teach “fear”.

    You say that you respect your parents and I’m not gonna argue with that. However, it may be that the way what different people call respect just does not cut it when you’re Thais. This still doesn’t mean others have no respect, it may only mean the level of respect needed to show by the Thais are more or different.

    For example, in western culture, no matter how much you love your parents, there are bound to be times when you’ll be yelling back at them.

    In Thailand, respecting your parents means knowing that what’s proper and improper and that yelling back at your parents are not proper. You may argue but never yell back since yelling does not mean respect.

    Does this mean that the western kids that yell back at their parents love their parents any less? Probably not.

    And you seem to mis understood my point when and keep insisting that the Thai’s way is to want something from their kids first before they give.

    Heck, no !!!

    What I’m saying is that if you don’t deserve respect, you won’t get it from any person. Respect is earned, a parent that torture his kids, abuses them, doesn’t deserve any respect. If a kid is a scum bag, he doesn’t deserve any respect.

    You’re confusing the showing of parental love with respect. A parent can love his kid even if he or she is the scum of the earth. We see that everywhere.

    But a parent who listens to his kid shows that he/she respect his idea.

    A parent may love a kid so much that he or she does not want anything back. However, let’s say when the kid tries to offer advice, that parent may look at him as just “his child” who knows nothing and don’t listen to the kid. The parent is not respecting the kid, he feels the kid is inferior.

    I can go on and on but I doubt you’ll understand much. Like I said, you’ll have to be born into a culture. I was born Thai and I’ve been in the US since I was 12, so, I have seen enough to say something about the kids here in the US. However, I dare not say anything about other cultures that I’ve never experienced. These cultures probably have their own meanings of respect, too.

  14. Well Mr Samsingha
    So ..you were making some sense for a while there. Even teaching me a bit. So…You left when you were twelve. I have been living in Thailand for 7 years and have a Thai son. You said you doubt I will understand much. As you were not born in the U.S do you feel like you understand the culture or is that right reserved for only the whites who were born into the U.S culture. 12 years here as a child… My wifes father has lived here for 60 odd years. He accepts me… but then again he knows his identity…
    P.S I hope you are not losing face with a young man having a conversation with you…. just kidding samsingha..you could teach me a lot but i’m having fun learning for myself…. sabai sabia Pi

  15. You said you doubt I will understand much.

    Welcome to the club, Cotties! ๐Ÿ™‚ Apparently, anyone holding a different view does so because of his inability to understand Thai culture properly. Yes, yes, it must be so…

  16. Hahaha, Cotties, there you go again going back to owing and etc, even though I tried to tell you that I did not mean that.

    May be it’s because of my writing that keeps making you think that Thai parents want something from their kids, first. Not, not at all.

    Please be sure, it’s not that way. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

    I feel confidence to compare American cultures because I have lieved in the US for much longer than you’ve in Thailand and although I don’t preten to be an authority in American culture, I do have a lot of understanding about their culture.

    My co-workers, friends are Americans. My cousin married an american. Another cousin engaged to an american. I can probably say that I have a lot of insight into their culture, though, not an expert.

    Also, I do keep my Thai culture since I do have my Thai family here in the US.

    My parents may not be that old but the people that raised me before I left for the US were actually my “grandparents”. My parents left when I was 2 yrs. to the US.

    My grandparents were old fashioned people with old values. You will see in them things that you don’t normally see in today’s generation of parents.

    Things they taught me are not often taught by today’s lax’s society. However, what they taught me were what the Thais of old would teach their childern. That is what respecting your parents, mean.

    I see from your wring back regarding the owing, giving, and wanting somehting back that you “still” did not get my point. That’s okay. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

    Let me ask you something, If you know something real well and you see someone saying it’s somehting else even though you know it’s not right, would it mean that that person is right ?

    Heck no. It just means that that person isn’t there, yet.

    That’s okay. Thai culture is quite complex it’s not easy to understand if you are not born into it. If you get back to the older time, it’s even more complex !!!

    Another thing about the Thais is that they are not willing to point out fautls when they see it. Thais also have a habbit of forgiving if things were done improperly by a non-Thai person. So, you may be surprised one day, say 10 years from now, when you find out that something you thought you understood were actually the oposite. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

  17. Thanks for replying to my comments once again Samsingha and SiamJai. I think we have met an agreement …sort of….. I look forward to reading more of your comments in other blogs. As you both are members I would like for one of you {if it’s possible} to write some sort of blog in reference to this subject of why respect is so so important to Thais. I see so much disrespect and respect in Thai society. Samsingha you made a good comment about older generations having even more pratices in the past. I asked a friend about it yesterday and they only had one for me. She said “My grandmother use to wai her husbands feet three times before she would go to bed.” Have you heard of this and do you know of more. I have to go gentlemen.
    Cotties…31 years old from Sydney. Oz.
    Thanks