fbpx

Free 1-3 day shipping for all U.S. orders! 📦 We ship globally 🌏 Buy 3 decks and get the 4th free 💙

Four humans committed to showing up for our parents

Hi friend! 👋 I want to introduce you to the next chapter of rebuilding my relationship with my parents, which has been the most impactful and transformative work of my adult life: The Parent Project 👵 👴

TL;DR We are four humans, committed to showing up for our aging parents each week in the ways we have always wanted — working through our past traumas, rewriting the beliefs that no longer serve us, and learning to love and be loved by our parents. Join us live each week as we reflect on our conversations and coach each other through one of the most challenging and rewarding journeys of our lives. 🙏

For over ten years, I didn’t have a good relationship with my parents. We never talked beyond small, transactional exchanges every day. When we got on the phone, I often couldn’t wait to end the conversation and return to my life.

Even though I was an endlessly joyful person around my friends, colleagues, and strangers, I was cranky and short-tempered at home. My parents were the only people I took my stress and frustration out on, making the smallest things they did, excuses for me to be annoyed. I lashed out at them for caring too much about me.

They didn’t deserve any of it, and there was nothing I felt more guilty about for over a decade.

In August 2018, I wrote a letter to my parents owning up to the years I treated them poorly. I read it to them over the phone and cried my heart out. I had a lot of work to do, but it was as if the doors to the rest of my life opened up.

Image for post

By November 2019, I co-created a bilingual connection card game with a friend and my parents called Parents Are Human to help other immigrant families have the kinds of heart-to-heart conversations that transformed our relationship. I hugged both my parents every morning for more than a year. It’s one of the things we looked forward to most each day.

Now, two years later, I feel like I can talk to my parents about almost anything. I’m currently helping my dad brainstorm ways to have a second career doing something he loves post-retirement. He is actually taking my advice now on how to improve his health. My parents do yoga together daily. I’m learning Chinese from my mom, and we’re discussing Lao Tzu’s ancient Chinese philosophy. We blow kisses to each other at the end of our weekly Zoom calls.

Most importantly, I’m now able to catch myself anytime a trigger comes up. Yes, I still get annoyed at things my parents do and say, but I can turn those internal feelings around faster and faster. When my frustration shows from time to time, I get to own up to my reaction in those moments and apologize consciously. Each time this happens, we get a little closer as a family. To my amazement, my parents will now often reflect on their behavior and habits in return. We’re getting better at communicating together.

With my beloved soul family Brandon LeeKimberly Han, and partner Tong-Tong Li, we have committed ourselves to talk with our parents weekly, asking at least one of the Parents Are Human card game questions. Once a week, we come together and discuss what came up for us during our interactions with our parents, the lessons we’re learning, and the inevitable challenges we face.

We’ve been recording and publishing our sessions on The Parent Project Facebook page. We’re here to showcase the heart and soul of building intergenerational wellness and hopefully inspire more open conversations about what it means to rebuild our relationship with our parents when we become adults.

Thank you for your support. It has been an honor of a lifetime to share this never-ending journey with you.

With love,
Joe


A letter to my mom to honor her love language

didn’t always have a good relationship with my mom. In fact, for over a decade, the only connection I had with her was when we interacted around food. Instead of trying to understand her love, I often took out my stress and frustration on her. I was a jerk to the person who loved me the most, and there was nothing that caused me more guilt than this.

In August of 2018, I started on a journey to get to know my parents. I owned that I was entirely responsible for our lack of a relationship. I began by asking them meaningful questions to get to know them that eventually made their way into the Parents Are Human card game. I started to learn who they were, one story at a time.

When I asked her the first question in the game, “What was your favorite food growing up?” (你小时候最爱吃什么?), we talked for two hours about her childhood experiences. I began to understand my mom’s love language of food, and it forever changed the way I saw who she was.

Here is the letter I wrote to her this Mother’s Day to honor her beautiful love.

Dear Mom,

I love you. It’s Mother’s Day today, and this year, I wanted to share with you one of the most important lessons you’ve taught me about love. I can’t believe it took over ten years and a card game for me to understand your love language. I finally get it, and all I want to do is share it with the world.

Growing up, you always showered me with love, but I couldn’t see it. I was too busy running away from my problems to be there for you. But you were always there doing everything you could to support me—cooking, cleaning, serving me with your entire heart. You made sacrifices every chance you could, so I could live the life of my dreams, the one you never got to have.

Instead of making time for you to hear about your life, I kept pushing you away. I thought the way I lived my life was right. I believed so firmly that I was busy making an impact on the world when all I was doing was being selfish and ignoring the one person who loved me more than anyone else. I took your love and actions for granted, and there was nothing I felt more guilty about.

Even though I was the most joyful person around my friends, colleagues, and even strangers, I was cranky, annoyed, and short-tempered at home. I took my stress and frustration out on you for years, making the smallest things that you did excuses for me to be annoyed. I lashed out at you for caring too much about me. You didn’t deserve any of it.

I finally get it, Mom. Behind all of those things that I yelled at you for, you were showing me your tender, selfless, everlasting love.

Whenever you cooked way too much food for us to eat, you were showing us your dearest love. When you were little, food was the most precious thing there was. You ate the same flour and water paste every day until you were fourteen years old. People were so hungry they ate the leaves and bark off of trees. The best days were when your whole family could share a single egg.

When the government unfairly put your dad in prison and took away your family’s rations, you survived only because of the generosity of your neighbors and family friends. People risked their livelihood to make sure you didn’t starve, and that’s why you treasure making food for others so much. You spend countless hours every week baking for other families because that’s the way you get to share your love with the world. It’s the best way you know how to live—to feed the people around you.

I see now that whenever you put too much food on my plate, bring perfectly cut fruit into my room, and give me the freshest food while eating leftovers yourself, you are saying I love you. I know that in our Chinese culture, we almost never say those words out loud. But I know that you’ve been saying that to me every day through your actions.

Food is your love language. It is beautiful beyond words.

I own up to all the moments I didn’t say I love you back by accepting your care and affection with open arms. I am committed to being a son who can love you with my whole heart and accept you for who you are. I know that I can’t undo what I did in the past. I can only choose how I talk to you, respond to your actions, and love you from now on. That is my promise.

Thank you for putting up with me all the times I raised my voice when I didn’t have to, for seeing past my behavior when I didn’t see past yours, and for showing me what it truly means to live a life in service of others.

Thank you for overfilling my plate all those years because it has overfilled my soul. You are the source of my inspiration for the person I want to be. Because of you, I have a lifetime of love to share with others.

So today, I want to celebrate the day you became a mother, the day you almost died for me. I want to celebrate all the overfilled plates, stomachs, and hearts with the boundless love that only a mother could give. I will never forget it.

Thank you for giving me life, Mom. I love you so much.

All my love,

Joseph

Image for post

My friend, Candace, and I made a card game to spark meaningful conversation and connection amongst Chinese/Taiwanese-American families before it’s too late.

✨ parentsarehuman.com ✨

My Story

A year and three months ago, I wrote my parents a letter because I was incredibly unhappy about how I had been treating them.

I read this letter to them over the phone, telling them how much I loved them and thanking them for raising me.

I also told them that I didn’t know how to express my love for them. How I finally saw that all the things they used to do that annoyed me, were the ways that they wanted to show their love. I just didn’t see it and didn’t accept it. I promised that I would no longer take out my anger and frustrations out on them. 

I made a commitment to learning how to express my love and to be in their lives from that point forward—to get to know them and hear their stories.

These 18 minutes over the phone didn’t just change my life, it created a brand new one. It felt as if the rest of my life unfolded before me, no longer bound by the guilt and shame of my past self. I hadn’t cried that hard in over a decade. Now, I live with my parents and have the most joyous moments hugging, kissing, and bonding with them each day. 

No alt text provided for this image

The Card Game

When I met Candace, we connected over our mutual desire to connect deeply with our parents and a shared hope for others to explore it for themselves. I knew that working on this card together was something that I would never regret doing.

We spent the last few months going through thousands of questions, spending late nights working on translations, interviewing and iterating on the experience with our Chinese/Taiwanese-American friends and their parents. And now, it’s here.

We are printing a limited batch of 100 decks in time for the holidays. We initially planned for a batch of 50 but received overwhelming love and support from our community so, we’re making more. If this helps just one more person share an authentic moment with their mom or dad, we can die happy.

Our pre-orders are ending on Thanksgiving Day and cards will be delivered by the second week of December. If you or someone you know may be interested, please share! It would mean the world to us.