our parents weren’t born here… but we were…

Posted: July 27, 2012 in For Educators, For Parents and Guardians, For Teenagers
Tags: , , , , ,

and because of this, we often feel like strangers in our own families. we have different styles, different ways of speaking, different opportunities, different influences and different expectations of ourselves… and this often makes our lives very confusing. we love our parents, but we don’t understand them, just as they don’t understand us. and this causes us great conflict. we go to school and need to make friends and fit in, but when we go home, the ways we try to fit in at school seem childish, shallow, disrespectful and unnecessary to our parents.

our parents grew up in a completely different environment with their own pressures and opportunities and values, and as a result, we often argue over how we should act and what our priorities should be. for us, fitting in feels like survival. if we don’t fit in, we feel alone, lost and scared. if we don’t acclimate to the values and pressures of our peers, we get teased and bullied. and if we don’t abandon some of the ways of our parents, we’re left on the outside looking in.  and it breaks our hearts to “betray” our parents as much as it breaks the hearts of our parents. but we are teenagers, which often means we’re going to be more selfish than deferential. these are the choices we’re compelled to make as children of immigrant parents and our parents just don’t see how and why we make the choices we do. it’s not that we don’t love them, or even respect them, but when most of our time is spent away from them and in the company of our peers, it’s inevitable that we absorb the ways and manners and styles and priorities of those around us.

we understand the desperation our parents feel when they’re watching us evolve into “pop culture” or “typical american” kids… and we can even understand why they try so desperately to impose their culture and faith upon us. but their refusal to accept us for who we are hurts. and all we wish is for our parents to partner with us in finding ways to juggle both worlds.  our choices to “fit in” are not just “rebellious” acts. we just feel that to survive our teenage years and high school, we have to make decisions that go against our “differently” raised parents.  we’re not thinking about ways to aggravate our parents, we’re just doing the best we can to satisfy both their expectations of us and our expectations of ourselves… and if there were ways to remain connected to our roots and the fundamentals of our cultures and faith AND establish our own identities as young people raised in american society… this is what we’d want. all we need is for our parents to be willing to partner with us in finding this balance.

  1. Daan says:

    I agree with you. Also, I think family is something you’re sure of, friends aren’t. It’s easier to change your habits in a way that affects your family negatively, than the other way around.

    • Rockman says:

      Very true… which makes it that much more heartbreaking to kids when parents deliver messages of shame and embarrassment. Too many times have I heard from my students the harsh words from their parents… “you are not my child”. Family bonds should never be something a child should be made to doubt.

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