I love America’s cultural diversity. The exposure it brings to every person in America is an invaluable source of knowledge and recognition. But while there are many positive things born out of America’s melting pot system, I’ve noticed a negative impact on the subculture of parents.
Let me give some examples:
There was a Filipino family with two children who attended the daycare where I worked. After they had stayed out late at a party the night before, a teacher at the daycare commented concerned that the parents would let their children stay out so late. The implication was a criticism on the parenting these children were receiving. Having grown up in the Philippines, I had to explain that children are just as involved in parties as adults are. There is not the same separation that is culturally normal here, where parents stay up late and children are put to bed earlier.
Another time, there was a Korean family who would bring their potty-training child to school in a pull-up, then bring underwear for us to put her in the rest of the day. The teachers were appalled. Why weren’t the parents doing the potty-training? How could they expect us to do what they were not willing to do themselves? Having gone to school with a population that was at least 1/3 Korean, I was able to recall that Korean culture places a higher expectation on academic institutions than American culture. Some of my Korean friends even mentioned that instead of getting in trouble at home for things they did wrong at school, their parents would call the school to complain about things the children had done at home, and when they got to school they were disciplined!
These are just a few examples of cultural misunderstandings which happen every day in a nation where different ethnicities are put together without fully knowing where the others are coming from. Consequently, we have created an environment of parental criticism. Parents live, sometimes without realizing it, in a constant state of anxiety, afraid of being judged for the way they are bringing up their children.
Parents constantly asked me “Do you think I’m doing the right thing?” “This won’t mess him up for the rest of his life, will it?” and even “Are you going to call defax on me?”
These were good parents. The fact that they were asking showed me how much they cared about their children. Yet they were so concerned about making the right decisions for their children that they were asking the 21 year old college student for advice on how to raise them.
My intention with this series is to equip you with pertinent knowledge about the way in which people from other places raise, discipline, and teach their children. Hopefully this will be useful in giving you plenty of ideas about ways you can incorporate cultural diversity in your home, as well as reminding you that just because things are done differently by another set of parents doesn’t make them inherently wrong. Sometimes it’s just a matter of perspective.