Balanced Melting Pot

Archive for September, 2008|Monthly archive page

What do you want [your child] to be when you grow up?

In Culture, Parenting, Questions on September 29, 2008 at 9:48 am

Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have some ideas as to what we would like our children to be when they grow up. Some of us secretly rejoice when we hear them say “I want to be a doctor”, even though at that point they are usually too young to understand how many science classes or how many years of school that will require. Hoping your child chooses a specific profession may be a universal trait of parenting, but the preference of careers can definitely be tied to culture.

In the Haitian culture, I came to realize that the expectation for many parents was for their children to become one of three professions: doctor, lawyer or engineer. Everything else fell under “other”. In a way, it was good to set the bar high, but on the other hand it gave children a limited view of which careers they could aspire to pursue.

Of course as you get older, you learn that a medical doctor is not the only profession where you can help people and that becoming a lawyer or engineer does not guarantee a high salary. The downside to discovering these other options is that you always have the thought in the back of your mind that you are not going to make your family proud.

So, have you been able to completely abandon your idea of what would be a successful career for your child(ren)? Or, do you gently/strongly veer them towards certain fields? Do you have a certain career path that you would like your child to take? If so, do you think your culture has influence over your preferences?

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Memories of an Immigrant Parent

In Culture, Parenting, Questions, Traditions on September 22, 2008 at 9:55 am

A while ago, I came across a well written article about what we, immigrant children, remember about our past. The author, Jaya Ramesh, talks about how initially her family’s memories consisted mostly of the country they left behind, but as time passed, they consisted mainly of their experiences as a new immigrant and those of their “home” country began to fade.

An important thing that I realized when I read this article is that I have not actively shared my childhood memories with my daughter. It’s so easy to reminisce with friends about how things used to be, but I forgot how important these stories are to keeping her connected to Haiti, even though she may not visit as often as I did. This is even more difficult for me because my memories are not of the country we left behind as they are for my parents. They consist of wonderful summers that seemed to go by too quickly and interesting customs (like getting all dressed up every Sunday, even when you didn’t have anywhere to go).

Now that I recognize the problem (they say that’s the first step, right 🙂 ), how do I go about sharing these stories in a way that they will be meaningful? It may be her age, but my daughter has quite a short attention span; especially for the abstract. I’d like to start the habit of not only telling her more about my childhood memories, but also presenting it in an interactive way so that they will become our memories.

Any suggestions?

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The Rat versus the Tooth Fairy

In Culture, Parenting, Questions, Traditions on September 15, 2008 at 9:32 am

Our daughter is on the verge of losing her first tooth. Of course, she is impatient for it to come out since many of her friends have already lost several, but I just realized that I haven’t talked to her about what happens afterwards.

I remember losing my first tooth (I was already in California) like it was yesterday. My mother instructed me that I needed to stick my head out of the window of our apartment, which had the roof of the parking garage directly underneath, and tell “the rat” that I was sending it a beautiful tooth. In return, I wanted “the rat” to send me an ugly tooth. I have to admit that this made no sense to me at the time, but she explained that by asking for an ugly tooth in return for my beautiful tooth, “the rat” would really give me a shiny white tooth. As convoluted as this tradition sounds, this was most likely my first lesson in humility

So, now the question is: Do I engage my daughter in the Haitian tradition of “the rat“, or do I simply use the American tradition of the tooth fairy (which is what the majority of her friends have described to her)? By the way, I don’t think it is effective to use both because I think that each teach very different values.

Do you have any cultural traditions that you have bypassed for the American equivalent?

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