Cultural Dilemmas

Cultural Dilemmas and Issues of Asian Moms in the U.S.


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Asian Moms And Cultural Transmission

We Asian moms in the U.S., have made our choice to live in this country and provide better opportunities to ourselves and our families. Despite of living far away from our home country, we do a lot of things to create our own little world here. We celebrate native festivals, speak our language, wear traditional clothes on special occasions and like to interact with people of our own culture (these common behaviors of Asian moms are discussed in detail in my previous post). Why do we behave in this manner and how is our behavior influencing our children?

The foremost thing that comes to my mind when I deeply analyze our engagement in common cultural practices is that we all miss home, and have common cultural behaviors due to two reasons:

Deeply Ingrained Family Values And Culture. Although we have adjusted in the new cultural set up, our hearts still belong to our home country. We feel that it is our duty as mothers to teach our culture and family values to our children. We make sure that they learn our traditions and values, as there is nothing in their surroundings here in the U.S. that will teach them about our heritage. Our culture is so deeply ingrained in us that we do not realize that certain things we do out of habit are influencing our kids culturally.

Family Bond.

Family bonding, an important cultural value for Asian moms

Family bond, an important cultural value for Asian moms

In addition to this, strong family bond is also an important cultural aspect of our lives and becomes an essential part of our children’s lives as well. We miss our families back home and realize that our kids are missing the love and affection of family and friends we had in our childhood. We try to compensate that part by making frequent visits back home, interacting with our parents and families through technology (Skype, Facetime) and make our children participate in these interactions.

We are influencing our kids by passing on our culture to them on two levels- conscious and unconscious.

Conscious And Unconscious Cultural Transmission.    Many of us are making conscious efforts to educate our children about our culture and values. We teach them our language, read native books to them and educate them about our traditions.

Some of us are not making any conscious efforts, but  cultural transmission is taking place on an unconscious level through our routine actions and behaviors. We cook our native food, speak our language and celebrate our cultural festivals. We do not even realize that all these actions are influencing our children culturally.

We are taking full advantage of the opportunity provided by this country to practice our cultural traditions freely and do the things we used to do back home. In this process we are trying to give the best of both worlds to our kids.

We are always striving to strike a perfect balance between the U.S. culture and our own. And in this effort we are actually influencing our kids culturally in a conscious as well as unconscious manner.

Do you think your day-to-day activities are influencing your children culturally? Share with me the cultural footprints that you are leaving on your children’s lives.


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How Asian Mothers Are Influencing Their Children Culturally

I was born and raised in Asia in a different culture, but my children are here in the U.S. Will they ever learn about the culture back home? What can I do to accustom my kids with my traditions and family values? Am I doing enough so that they are not ignorant about their cultural values, or am I overdoing it? I do not want to force my beliefs on them as they are living in a different society, but I also want them to know and understand my home culture.

These thoughts keep on resonating in the minds of Asian mothers as they are raising their children here in the U.S. Being an Asian women, I am often struggling with these questions myself.

I did a research to find out if we, as Asian mothers, are influencing our children’s lives culturally. I found out some common cultural behaviors.

Use Traditional Language, Dress And Food.

A child doing "Sawatdeeka", way of greeting people in Thailand by joining hands

A child doing “Sawatdeeka”, way of greeting people in Thailand by joining hands

Our native language, dress and food are important aspects of our life. We have a desire that our kids should learn, or at least understand our language. Some of us are making efforts to teach it to our kids by speaking it at home, teaching cultural ways of greeting, reading poems to them in our language and even watching native version of films and cartoons with them. We all cook our traditional food and wear native clothes for special occasions, like while celebrating native festivals, weddings, and while going to our temple.

Desire To Meet People Of Our Own Community. We have a desire to get in touch with people of our own community in the U.S. and meet them regularly. We celebrate cultural festivals together and meet them on weekends and other important occasions.

 
Visits Back Home And Visits By Parents In The U.S. We all go to our home country regularly or at least try to go after a couple of years and take our children with us. During our visits back home, we meet friends and family; enjoy eating food and shopping for things which are needed for our life here in the U.S. Our parents come and visit us, and support us, especially by taking care of our children.

 
Celebrate Cultural Festivals And Go To Our Temple.

An Indian family dressed in their traditional clothes, standing outside an Indian temple

An Indian family dressed in their traditional clothes, standing outside an Indian temple

Despite of our busy schedules, we take out time to go to our temple, if not regularly, once a month, or at least on special occasions like birthdays or while celebrating our native festivals. Some of us also make our children participate in many religious and cultural activities.

Use Technology To Connect With Friends And Family Back Home. We use technology (Skype, Facetime) and social media to connect and interact with our dear ones in our native country. Sometimes our children also participate in these conversations with their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.

We, Asian moms are not the only ones influencing our children culturally with these behaviors. There are moms from many other cultures doing similar things. Our efforts help our children to identify themselves with their Asian roots and develop into confident individuals. A lot of research indicates that acquainting children with their culture contributes positively in their emotional and psychic development.

What do all of these common behaviors indicate? Why are we doing these things, and how are they influencing our children? I will talk more about it in my next post.

What are some of the other common behaviors we have? Share your thoughts with me.