"Mom, you just don't understand!"
"You know, back in my day…"
Media portrays the evident rift between an older and younger generation perfectly. A complete misunderstanding of the change in culture. These instances are depicted in typical teen tropes of listening to edgy music despite their parent's dislike of it, when the parent critiques the teen's often revealing wardrobe, and when technology becomes the forefront of entertainment. However, there's another intersecting type of intergenerational conflict if your parents migrated from another country.
1. Family over everythingGiphy
On priorities such as family, academics, or friends, traditional cultures seem to have a heavy hand on all of these aspects. In many Latin countries, for instance, the family is a pivotal aspect of an individual's life. Family precedes over friends, school, and sometimes, even one's self. Decisions are made for the collective unit, and individualism is looked down on and perceived selfish and uncaring. Also, family extends into the physical home, as for example, Filipinos tend to house aunts, uncles, and grandparents in one household.
2. Language barriersGiphy
Most likely, immigrated parents don't have English as their first language. Words can be misinterpreted, and sometimes there aren't any words to translate a certain feeling or thought. There are also some instances that the child has to interpret announcements for parents or act as a mediator between parent and teacher. As a conflict, its another responsibility for the child to mediate these language barriers and translate it so their parents can understand and respond appropriately.
3. (Dis)Tasteful attitudesGiphy
Many delicious foods, especially from Asian countries, don't share a similar palette with American ones. A lot of children of immigrants have grown up surrounded by disgusted faces and rude commentary on their home dishes. When attempting to solve this issue with their parents, there is usually a lack of understanding and money. Parents don't understand why their kid wants ham sandwiches instead of spring rolls. On top of that, parents simply cannot afford to buy Lunchables every day because of working multiple minimum-paying jobs. This conflict in food palettes can start a rejection of home culture because classmates conflict with a child's cultural identity and children's ignorance can really hurt individuals in the long-run.
4. College prepGiphy
If your parents are immigrants that studied (or even if they didn't get to higher-education) in their home country prior to coming here, there is a likely chance that you've had trouble navigating the school system, especially for college. The list goes on: lack of resources, lack of guidance, lack of understanding. A lot of the misunderstanding, however, comes while preparing for college. In many countries, schools require solely high marks, which is why many parents tell their kids to focus solely on their studies. However, extracurriculars are a crucial part in American college admissions. Many high-ranked U.S. colleges seek students that are well-rounded, holistic and leaders or entrepreneurs in their community. It isn't enough to have good grades anymore but to also have a laundry list of leadership experience, volunteerism, and/or creativity. Most immigrant parents, however, may nag that it's just a waste of time. However, in U.S. colleges, involvement means just as much as the grades.
This is literally how college feels. Thanks, Hudson.Giphy
College in the United States is set different from many other schools around the world. The general understanding, for instance, that your major doesn't have to correlate with your career choice is an upcoming, but primarily American, thing to believe. Other countries usually have their schools set up for a direct relationship between and career, such as History major means Historian or History professor. However, in the U.S., a History major can translate to politician, businessman, filmmaker, or journalist. The flexibilities are well-known to be endless.
6. The FutureGiphy
It's the age-old (and very wrong) "Asian" trope to push their kids into the medical field, but for many immigrant parents who have struggled to move from one country to another, the medical field is as top-tier as it can get. Medical careers are consistent, present, and have an array of employers all around the world. In contrast, minority communities in the United States' artistic fields seem far and in-between, regardless of how much money individuals actually make. Non-STEM is the least route, which is why many immigrant parents push for the medical field (or sometimes law) because it's the clearest and most present pathway to show that their migrations struggles were worth it. However, this is why representation is important for minority communities because, for those involved in the arts and other non-STEM fields, there'll be more support from our support system if we have more evidence that the American market actually wants us.
Immigration is not an easy feat, and every parent who has struggled in this hostile country to make lives easier and better for their children should be commended. However, there are still key differences that can make some experiences more difficult to navigate for those identified as a 1st or 1.5 generational than children whose parents were born here.
The struggle is real, but the results are rewarding.