Not a TIGER DAD

Dear Dr. Darcy:

I have serious relationship issue with my dad. It affects my life in relationship with my friends, family, my personality and decision-makings.

I understand that he is a typical Asian "Tiger father" who doesn't seem to be satisfied with his children's performances. I do also understand that it may be cultural thing to have a certain way of punishing kids whether physical or verbal. However, I feel threatened sometimes to have him with me at the workplace and at home. (My parents run convenience store in Canada and I work for them during summer).

He never stops swearing in Korean at the workplace and at home when things don't go smoothly... Family feud takes place at home several times every month. While I was in university last semester I got a call from my mom and my sister that he tried to stab them with a knife which ended up in stabbing the couch. After that day I got sick mentally and physically that I felt the need to go and talk to the counselor at university. However, I really felt unsecure to see the psychologist in person, talking about how bad my dad is and to see myself playing victim. After two sessions of counseling I gave up visiting to see the counselor since I didn't see the clear objective and how the counseling would help me.

After exams, I came home and started working at my parent's store. Now, I regret that I came home since I went through so many conflicts with my dad… He even brought a knife, a scissors and a hammer threatening to either kill me or strike me with the tools. He didn't take action of killing me but it was a life-threatening experience. My sister and I screamed at dad why he was acting that way and [we] told him that we would call RCMP [Canadian Police]. However, he grabbed us by the arm and hair telling us that he is not afraid of RCMP at all. He told us that all he has to do is to be behind the bars for years and come out to kill us or take us to [Asia] where we are originally from and beat us.

My mom has always been my protector from my dad. She really cares about me and my sister. She sometimes tells us that we are the only reason why she lives. She attempted a suicide last year during the fight with my dad. He also threatened my mom that he would literally stab her belly with the knife.

I have seen your posts and answers and I discovered that you are most likely to give people straight, direct and insightful answers which I liked the most. I am sorry if I wrote too much. I just couldn't stop writing without really telling you what I am going through right now. Thank you for reading.

ANSWER

Your entire family is in danger.  You know this.  When people are in danger, the only thing that matters is creating safety, and you will not be safe as long as you are financially dependant on your parents and as long as you are in physical proximity to your father.

What that means is that you MUST report this to RCMP.  Immediately.  Second, speak to someone at your university because somehow, you must find a way to pay for university so that you do not need money from your parents.  When you speak with them, tell them everything you have told me.  I realize that you had an unproductive counseling experience at your school, but in all honesty, 2 counseling sessions isn’t enough to make a difference in anyone’s life.  You simply weren’t ready to be helped.  Be sure to inform them that you need to change your financial arrangement so that university isn’t interrupted. Let them know that you are reporting this as much to explore your financial options (loans, aid, grants, university emergency funds) as to receive the emotional support to transition into a completely independent lifestyle from your parents. Doing this will ensure that you have a clear agenda for your work with a counselor and it will mean that you will feel more productive about this counseling experience than you did about the last.

Finally, you should NOT visit your parents or let them know where you live.  Have your dorm changed so that your father cannot find you if he goes onto campus. And prepare yourself for your father to use your mother as bait, manipulating her to schedule a visit with you - not telling you that your father will be with her.  My concern is that your father would manipulate your mother into thinking that he genuinely wants to reconcile with you and would instead use the opportunity to harm you physically.  The man is sick, he cannot help himself, and he cannot be trusted.  Ever.  I’m sorry.

I'm sure your mother has told you that the way your father behaves is consistent with how Asian Tiger Dads behave.  I believe she is using a cultural norm to minimize the severity of her situation; a situation that she doesn't have the ability to change. I don't believe that it is culturally acceptable for Asian fathers to threaten to kill their children and to attempt to kill members of their family.

I can’t even fathom how difficult this must be for you to read.  I’ve thought deeply about how to respond to you and there’s no soft way to say the things that I need to say to keep you safe.  You are in grave danger.  When someone threatens you, believe them.  Get yourself the support you need so that you can live a productive healthy life.  And please don’t hesitate to email me if there’s anything else I can do to assist you.