Cross-Cultural Parenting

Yesterday, I watched “Last Train Home,” a very good documentary about migrant workers in China. Going into it, I didn’t expect parenting and family to be a huge focus.

I was born in Canada but was raised by traditional Asian parents and I’m a soon-to-be co-parent with a non-Asian, so the documentary was extra interesting to me.

I recognized parallels between me and the children in the doc, in the way that they were constantly stressed with the importance of studying, getting the highest marks in class and getting a good-paying job so you can support your family. And, as the doc shows, any word that is taken as disrespect to your elders is worthy of harsh punishment.

To be clear, my parents weren’t as extreme as the ones in the doc, but I still completely understood that type of parenting–that culture. I’ve seen it before. However, seeing my husband’s and mother-in-law’s reactions reminded me that not everyone gets it. I don’t agree with it all, but I get it.

It was about providing for the family purely by supplying money for food and education, which in turn cultivates another good family provider, and the cycle continues. Sadly, yet typically, missing were love, affection, self-fulfillment and respect for everyone (not just the elders).

I’m sure many families (of all cultures) have their own variations of the same fundamental values, but it’s how you instil them that makes a difference. I’m obviously far from being an expert at raising a family and it’s easier said than done but I’ve seen enough to know how I want to do it and I’ll just hope for the best from there.