Kids Tell Parents ‘I Love You’ For The First Time

Some parents and children tell each other “I love you” daily. With others, the love is felt but never actually spoken.

Steven Lim, a YouTuber who uses his video channel to explore Asian-American cultural issues, decided to focus on these three small words in his latest video, “Asian Parents React To I Love You.”

“I’ve been wanting to do a video about the way Asian parents show love to their kids for a long time now, but I didn’t really know how to put it together,” he explained to The Huffington Post via email Friday. “The way Asian parents love their kid is so unique, so powerful, so amazing, but rarely spoken, which oftentimes leads to misunderstanding. But, through the thick and thin, I’ve always known my parents love me and that their love is stronger than anything else in the world. And so finally it just hit me — why not just call my mom and tell her I love her? Which then opened up a world of emotions. How will she respond? Will she think something’s wrong? Oh no, she’s going to think I did something really bad.”

Lim’s idea to tell his mom he loves her propelled his larger video project. When he reached out to potential participants, some refused, some were excited and some were just plain nervous. Once he got a group, he recorded them calling each of their respective parents to say “I love you.” Some had only said the words to their parents once or twice; some had never uttered the words to their parents before. The parents’ responses were awesome. “I’ve been waiting to hear this!” one mother said. “Oh, thank you son! I love you, too. You are the best son today,” another responded.

Their touching reactions were a pretty far cry from some of the reactions in a similar video experiment conducted earlier this year. The previous clip featured Chinese college students telling their parents “I love you” and was aired on China’s Anhui TV after it went viral online, according to the Global Times. In that clip, the parents responded with alarm: “What is going on?” “Are you drunk?” “Are you pregnant?”

Lim’s goal was not just to pull on our heartstrings, but to start a broader conversation about the verbal expression of love between a parent and child. He even encouraged others to record and share their parents’ reactions, using the hashtag #iloveyouchallenge.

“[I wanted] to open up a conversation about verbally saying ‘I love you’ and help people start thinking about that,” he said. “Why don’t Asians say it that much to each other? Why is it so difficult? And so from that, I want people to stop and feel what they are feeling, and then make sure to turn around and tell the people we love and appreciate that we love and appreciate them.”

Lim has already seen a big reaction to his social campaign.

“So many people have told me that it inspired them to call their parents for the first time and tell them that they love them,” he said. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive.”