Tuesday, May 26, 2009
This past week, I got an email reminding me that Chinese culture camp is coming up in July near my home. I told my daughter about it and got a very firm, "I don't want to go" in return. It didn't surprise me completely, as she also told me this year that she didn't want to go to Chinese New Year with our FCC group, and when I insisted she attend, she told me that she wanted to wear jeans this year and not "one of those Chinese dresses". I assured her that was fine with me.
So today I have been wondering when to push and when to not.
I grew up in a family of people who loved to play music. My grandmother was an accomplished organist, and I would love listening to her play. My parents signed me up for piano lessons, and like most kids, I did it for awhile. But then the fun of playing with my friends was calling, and warm summer days, and I planted my feet firmly and told my mom that I did not want to take lessons anymore, and she said, "fine". Of course now...I am like many of the adults out there who quit music lessons in that I say to my mom quite unfairly, "why in the world didn't you just make me keep doing piano!" I've heard it from my grown daughter about letting her quit violin as well. : -) There's that age old line of "why didn't you just make me knowing it was for my own good???"
I was talking to a friend today about the culture camp and she compared it to Chinese language school as well. Her daughters from China wanted to play soccer on the weekends, and didn't have any desire to go to Chinese school if it meant missing out on playing that sport with their friends. She has struggled with her decision to not force them to learn Mandarin.
We as transcultural adopters try to parent in the best way possible by learning from those who were adopted from Vietnam and Korea in the past. And of course one of the things the more vocal adoptees stress is that they felt a disconnect when their parents ignored their culture of birth. But what about those of us as parents who want more than anything to have our children know their birth culture, but who are now parenting kids 9-15 who only want to be "American"? (whatever that means exactly?) Who just want to hang out with their friends and discuss the latest episode of iCarly and Edward from Twilight, and who balk at the idea of going to camp to learn about China or going to Saturday classes to learn Mandarin.
When do you push? When do you let them take the lead?
I sure would love to know your thoughts, especially with the deadline for camp fast approaching!