Learn a Word: hiéu

I searched and searched the internet for an English translation. I couldn’t find one. From what I know, there isn’t a direct translation for hiéu. I usually have to explain to my friends in a long-winded explanation what it is.

It is a Vietnamese concept. When your parents give you everything and raise you, you return the favor as you get older. There is a tiny sense of obligation like a good child will definitely have this. However, when you love your parents it shouldn’t be an obligation.


You want to be something your parents are proud of. You want to repay them for all of their sacrifices. You don’t want to be a burden on them. Instead, you want to give them everything so their life becomes easier.

This is how I explain it to my friends. And all my friends know that they should appreciate and love their parents, but there is more action required than just feeling gratitude. You give them whatever they are unwilling to spend on themselves. You take care of your parents when they are too feeble to care for themselves.


I think it is a beautiful concept. But growing up with this can be hard sometimes when you are trying to be your own person. You want to make your parents happy AND yourself. Sometimes those two things don’t go together. It takes time though, and you learn where to draw the line.


Regardless of where the line is, if you have hiéu, you will unconditionally love your parents back. You find a way to still give them the things they never had because they were busy taking care of you.

Ya hear me? Word.


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