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Bill Belew has raised 2 bi-cultural kids, now 34 and 30. And he and his wife are now parenting a 3rd, Mia, who is 8.

I know it may sound impolite to call my own dad this way, yet I call him like this in his face, so, I guess, it is fine. I have quotation mark there, you know what it means.

As the only daughter of my parents, though I spend more time hang out with my mom, I feel lucky to be in such a wholesome family, that my gender awareness is pretty balanced by my gentle mom and strict dad, and I grow up become a quite average and ordinary person in Chinese mainstream cultural identification. It is not bad, I was educated in this way. A lot of things learned from my dad. My dad is, um, quite a stiff man, a traditional father in old-fashioned Chinese family style, takes charge of the main subject of the family (though only three people), main financial source of the family, no interruption during his statement, no suggestion from others…..kind of fitted in the stereotyped dad,  in my childhood memory.  He is an engineer in coal mining, fastidious with his work. He is very very careful about accuracy and details, because if something was calculated mistakenly,  accident may happen to coal miners. And dad brings his work style to life: he is very strict with me too, and always telling me to be careful and attentive when doing things. Otherwise, punishments awaits.

Though eventually, I choose to study arts instead of science while both my parents are engineers, and my character turned out to be quite typical Sagittarius, casual and whatever-it-is-fine style. However, thanks to my dad, those family education I have got as a kid, keeps me staying on track, and can steer myself complete things with enough rigor and caution, though my heart sometimes wants to go wild.

I was pretty afraid of my dad in my childhood until I went to high school in another city. He would supervise me doing homework with 100% attention, and make sure answers are all correct. Otherwise, punishments awaits. And I can’t talk something ridiculous or impolite before him and other seniors, I never cheat, never lie. Otherwise, punishments awaits. I was so scary of him then, and had no choice but complete things as he directed me to do. And I called him a stubborn dad. Yet things started to get changed after I went to a boarding school, and only come back home every weekend. Then, study college in Beijing, only come back home every year for a month or two. And now, staying in another country, visit my parents every two or three years.

I gradually realized that my dad is becoming more and more gentle and tolerant to me, he will never speak of punishments for me, and just ask me to take care of myself. He still talks about to be careful and serious about life and work, yet in a very soft and lovely way. I was not afraid of him anymore, and started to kidding him, make jokes about him with my mom, and discuss topics like two adults.

The way that a child grows up, is also a process that parents learn how to be good parents. Experimental, no retry, once in a lifetime, no regret. Our parents raise and educate us to be a social person, we experience together how they started from scratch with a baby to someone like them. I love my “stubborn” dad, he taught me to be careful as possibly as I can with things that I handle, and a responsible person, for others, for the society, and for my own life.

Talk to Bill and others about their experiences raising bi-cultural Japanese-American kids.

Bill Belew

Daddy and Christian.


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Growing Up Aimi Series