Taipei Discussion Transcript: Grandmothers

Participants: Mary, Maggie, Willie, Fanny, Angela

So it’s really common for Taiwan?


You mentioned grandfathers in Taiwan really like getting involved in raising children.

Yes, because they’re retired, and watching TV is boring, and they want to get involved.

I think that’s amazing, that’s not something you think of.

Okay, shall we start?


I’m team b, because I think that old people they have their, like, life experience about different things, and they know better than young people, and because they are grandmothers, and they love their grandkids, and so they want to take care of them. Maybe not just grandmom, just someone they are close to, and they will play that kind of role to them.

I also choose team b, because I think grandma play an important role of child-raising and they also contribute to the housework, and share the burden from mothers in each family. So I choose team b. Oh, they also have a lot experience in life.

Well, I’m not pretty sure if my grandmother have a lot of experiences in life, but grandmothers are the best of taking care of children, basically, the most important reason, basically, it’s kind of that they’ve learned a lot from raising our mother or father. I don’t know why, probably because those grandmothers, when mothers turn to grandmothers, they have lots of chances to exchange experiences with other mothers and grandmothers, makes them more knowledgeable, so this makes them better. Children brought up by grandmothers are ‘white and fat’. Like they say.

I agree with the article, that they have better survival.

Basically I think grandmothers know lots of details that mothers don’t know. And the mothers learn this 30 years later, for their grandkids.

So are you team b or team e?

I’m team b. I think the important part is not teaching children things. Usually that is affected by their traditional values, not pretty sure, it’s not all positive from the educational side, but they’re simply the best for taking care, on the survival side, to promote the probability of survival.

I’m also team b. And they all…the answer of team b, is just like you, because the grandmother has lots of information and knowledge about life and survival, and so, I think team b. Thank you! Thank you!

So we’re all team B. What do we talk about

Maybe I can provide an example with my grandma and me. Most grandmother only focus on raising their grandchildren, but I learned a lot of discipline from my daily life with my grandma. She asked me to make my bed when I get up, and also asked me to clean the table when I finished eating. So I learned a lot. What she taught me had a great influence on my personality.

Your mother didn’t make you do that?

My mother only focus on my homework, and how I behave in school.


Yeah yeah yeah, but not about…

…daily life!

Yeah. And also I like my grandma, because she help me a lot in some kind of home work, like sewing clothes or dolls, like that.

My grandma always gave us ice cream, cookies and soda, all at the same time. We could have as much as we wanted. That was so not what we were allowed at home! It’s how I learned that ice cream and cookies are good, and soda and ice cream is good, and cookies and soda are good, but all three together will make you sick.
But you know, I could have learned that as an adult, too, because if I wanted now to eat all three at the same time, I still could.

Isn’t it great to be an adult?

But I like being a child better. I’m under their protection, and I don’t have to earn money.

But I like being an adult, so I can spend money on whatever I want, because I earned it myself.

So it’s the opposite. Sometimes I think, yeah, I’m an adult, and I can buy whatever I want, so it’s a…



A little I want to grow up, and I don’t want to grow up.

That’s because you’re still in school and people still can tell you what to do or not.

I think you’re right. I’m so used obeying criteria, so I’m a little afraid of making my own decisions.

Yeah, you know when I got my first job, I just thought, oh my god, I’m free now. I make my own money, I pay my own way, I’m free!

Is that because you didn’t live with your parents? Because I have my own job…

Yes. Moving out is a wonderful thing.

Exactly. My dad is always complaining that I’m watching TV. I thought about getting a TV for my room, but there’s no cable line. Ugh! You need cable!

I think that you can watch cable TV on the internet right now. The resolution is a little bad though.

Yes, but if your ADSL speed is too slow, though…

I think the point is that if there’s a lot more people watching with you, it’s faster.

Faster? Why?

Because they’re sharing the bandwidth.

So you do that a lot?

I watch live sports events. But actually I don’t watch a lot of TV lately.


I think I’m just tired of watching TV.

Well, the internet is a worse timewaster. In TV, you have to wait for your program to come on, but…

But going back, I think that for parents, they always think you’re their kids, even if you’re 40.

It’s so true.

Is it true that in the US, 18 year olds hate to be told to be careful?

Not just 18 year olds—anybody. Even a six year old hates that.

You know, when a mom says that, it’s a little like, they don’t trust me. Just like once I wanted to invest in stock market, but my mother turned to very angry, and she just said, I have invest for you, so why do want to invest by yourself?

Well, that’s different from my mom, that my mom push me to invest. I think the main reason is that she doesn’t trust my dad.

(Everyone laughs)

She doesn’t trust your dad what?

Well, he reads a lot of Warren Buffet stuff, but he’s terrible! When I started understanding what he was doing, I was like, what are you doing wasting your time reading those books?

So your dad invests?

Well, my mom is busier than my dad, so my dad helps her with the family finances, but he’s terrible.

So your mom encourage you to do it?

Yeah, because she thought I would be more reasonable. But I still think that, when we grow older, parents just look like distractions. Just like you say, when you grow older you want to fly high and do bigger things, and your parents become kind of a distraction. Or even kind of a big stone stop you. I just hope if I become a parent some day, I won’t control them too much. Because I think that when people protect their kids too much, it makes them mediocre. Usually I told my mom, that you guys were great parents and good educators before we were 15, but not anymore, because if my brother and I take your suggestions now, we won’t be able to completely show our talents. So I think kids should leave their family earlier, before 25. If you leave too late, after 30, it’s no good. That’s why I said that from the educational side, grandmothers, it’s good for the kids, they don’t know much about the world, and they have to learn discipline and stuff. But when you grow older, just like it said, it’s modern society, they’re not equipped with the knowledge or tools which is for this century. If you can learn all their tools, which they could use to survive in the 70s, or 80s, that’s a different story.

But sometimes, grandmothers might know how children might behave in certain cases. For example, one of my neighbors, she is a grandmother, she recently complained how her son educate her grandson. Because her son likes to ride motorcycle very fast. And will bring his grandson with.

Oh, dangerous!

So one day, she found her grandson ride his bike very fast, and jump down and said, “I win”. But she’s so opposed in the first place.

So probably she can buy him a helmet.


The kid.

But both think she or her son should teach her grandson you shouldn’t ride so fast, even she put on the helmet.

But my point is, the kid could ride fast, but it depends on the occasion. Just that it’s not appropriate for him to ride fast on the road or sidewalk, but if there are specific roads for bicycles, it’s okay.

If he’s careful of the other people ion the road.

My advice is, send him to motor GP, and he will know how dangerous.

What’s motor GP?

It’s like formula 500 for motorcycles, so he can see how dangerous it is.

But her son is only 4 or 5 years old.

I really think it’s just location dependent. I think you can’t really tell him you should not ride it fast on the sidewalk or road. But if there are other places, like motor gp, then he can.

Getting back to our discussion, I think that there’s something interesting, that a mother’s mother…

Yeah yeah yeah, that was an interesting point.

The mother’s mother was better at helping the kids survive.

Why not the father's mother?

Well, it’s in the article.


Well, I’m not pretty sure, because the coincidence was that I’m raised by my maternal grandmother, I didn’t know my paternal grandmother.

Is that true for anyone else?

Well, my mother’s mother died pretty early, so I have no memories of her.

But it sounds like your father’s mother took really good care of you.

Yes, I respect her, and I want to be like her. Because she travel almost the whole Taiwan. And when she lived with us, she can take care of her self, wash her clothes, etc, and she never intervene the affairs between the family

Oh, smart of her!


I’m also raised by father’s mother. The paternal grandmother. The reason that my paternal grandmother raise me is my maternal grandmother think I am too annoying for my second uncle. Because he is studying, and I’m crying, because I’m a baby. And my maternal grandmother think I’m too annoying, so she told my mother to send me to my grandmother. And from I am a one-years baby, my grandmother raise me till I am 12.

How far away did she live from your family?

My paternal grandmother live in Chaiyi, and my maternal grandmother live in Kaoshiung.

Where did your family live?

Taipei! So I am running around between three cities. But for a child, I think it’s fun.

Probably because you were loved in all three places.

But when I grew up, I think my maternal grandmother’s treat me nice, better than when I was a baby.

Are you the oldest child?

Did she raise anybody after you?

Yes, my sister is raised by her. Because she said my mother want to send my sister to my paternal grandmother, but she said she had no energy to raise the second child, so my maternal grandmother have to raise my sister.

So is there a great difference between you and your sister?

No, we have almost the same character.

And the same behavior? And values?

Behavior, yes, values, not exactly the same, but similar. The thinking mode of my sister and I is very similar, even the voice. We have similar character. It’s very interesting, because she lived in Kaohsiung, I lived in Chaiyi, but we’re so similar. I don’t know how to describe, when we grow up, we found we have similar voice, similar character and value.

And what about your grandmothers?

I think I’m closer to my paternal grandmom, because she stayed with us when I was little, I don’t know how long, but she had three sons, so she would take turns, so when she came to stay with us, I was six or seven years old, she would buy things I like, and a lot of food, when we went to traditional market, especially. And watching TV together, she would like look at me while I was watching.

So she really loved you.

Well, she didn’t have too much to do at that time.

How about your maternal grandma?

I don’t have that much experience that we are close together, maybe because we didn’t live together. But I think my auntie’s more like my mom, because I was raised by her, because my mom was busy at the time. That’s why I think your grandma doesn’t have to be your real grandma. Because when she cared for me, her kids were already like 20 something.

My father always complained my grandfather, because my grandfather always treat me nice. I think Taiwanese grandfather always get involved with their grandson.

But you’re a granddaughter.

Well, yes.

My paternal grandfather died 20 years before I was born. But my maternal grandfather liked me a lot more than my brother, because my performance in school was great. My brother’s smarter than me, actually, but he doesn’t care about schoolwork, so he doesn’t perform as well. He’s not a traditional kid, he doesn’t obey the rules, so my grandfather doesn’t like him as much as me. So I was really sad when he passed away, I think it was my 18 years old. My mom told me I was like the representative, because there are four grandchildren of him, my brother, my two cousins, and I, and my mom said that my grandfather loves me the most, because of that. But I think the best memory of him, was that he was the guard of a textile company in Tainan, and I live with them at that time, and one day, you know what the guards do, they have to go to every checkpoint, to record that they checked it, and I got to go with him. I was five years old, so I just went with him. When the mission ended, we went to his like, employees restaurant to have an ice-cream. And I remember that. And I got a cold the next day. Getting a cold is kind of serious stuff when I was small, and I remember my grandmother yelling at my grandfather about that, but it was a fun memory. I think the point is that I’m not very familiar with my father. I’m familiar with my mother, and my grandparents. My father worked in Taipei, and we lived together in Tainan. So I think the point is I would do my best to get to know my son, because if you don’t play or work with them when they are small, they will know you are their father, but they won’t know you. I lived with my grandparents, but I didn’t learn Taiwanese.

That’s really interesting, and you were in Tainan, of all places?

And my mother spoke Taiwanese with them. So I think the funny part is, I can understand what they’re saying, but I can’t speak.

So you speak Chinese to your grandparents, and they speak Taiwanese to you.

Yes, because their Chinese skills are limited, and my Taiwanese is limited. But we could understand. Also, when they speak to me in Taiwanese, they don’t require a response from me.

My paternal grandfather and mother learned Chinese so hard, so they can speak Chinese with their grandchildren, so all of us don’t speak Taiwanese.

But I think learning the mother tongue helps you to understand the culture. So even though I can’t speak it too well, I try to expose myself to it, and ask what words mean, and why they speak like that.

I always laugh at my sister’s Taiwanese.

So they didn’t speak Taiwanese with her in Kaoshiung?

I speak Taiwanese better than my classmates!

I grew up in three places, so my Taiwanese is merged! But my Taiwanese is similar to Beigang, because that’s where my grandparents are from. So I have a Beigang accent. But I have several words I use in kaoshiung accent.



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