As parents, irrespective of our background or culture, our primary goal is to have great relationships with our children. We aspire to be the guide and role model of who we want our children to be and love them unconditionally.
However, in reality, we are faced with daily parenting challenges, and more so for migrant parents, due to our different cultural backgrounds, beliefs, traditions and values to what our children experience.
When a family makes the decisions to move to another country, it is always not without any compromising and sacrifices. They choose to move from one culture to a new one, and are prepared to face the challenges of dealing with new culture, language, practices, environment, expectations etc.
Sometimes conflicts and challenges can look like these:
- Lack of both emotional and physical support from family and extended family
- Constant clashes of ideas, culture, and values, which can result in misunderstanding, miscommunication and rifts in the family.
- Some parents may not be familiar with the schooling system as well as language issues, thus unable to support their children.
- Differences in parenting culture and practices may cause conflict and widen the cultural and generational gap.
- Unable to integrate in the community due to language issues and not being able to adapt to new way of life, migrant parents may find it very lonely and isolated.
- Sometimes financial stress, especially when parents are unable to secure a job in a new country, adds to the issues.
If is often the children who will assimilate faster and learn the new culture and language, and practice these faster than their parents. When parents do not know these new things, it often results in conflict, confusion, misunderstanding and, most times, painful arguments and resentments.
Bridgeing new cultures is an opportunity to connect and bonding
In Asian countries, it is not uncommon that duties of child raising and house hold chores are left to the mothers and the female clans of the family. The men mostly are in charge of work/career and earning income for the family. Therefore, in most cases, not only the father and children relationships are not as bonded, the husband and wife relationships are distant as well. This is due to lack of shared experiences (hands off approach) and minimal communications within the family.
Therefore, one thing that I learned from my experience in Australia was both my husband and I were more hands on with raising our children. We worked together by discussing, sharing ideas and, most of all, sharing the household chores and parenting as a family. Thus this really established stronger family connections and bonding.
On top of that, I believe that all cultures have amazing gifts, and when you combine and learn new things from another culture, it is a great opportunity to learn and adopt something new ideas. Having two cultures is a great opportunity to grow, learn, and incorporate the new elements in your daily activities, and so enriches your life experiences with your family.
Starting a new life in a new country can be a new adventure. It is an opportunity to bridge both cultures, to learn, grow and to establish stronger bonding as a family as you grow and share your new life experiences together.