Sunday, August 30, 2009

Too Much Culture?

I just read an interesting article published in the Boston Globe by Mei-Ling Hopgood, author of Lucky Girl here. In the article titled “Another country, not my own”, Hopgood discusses whether interracial families can be pushing too much culture. She says:

Yet I worry that some parents are now taking things too far: Going to extremes to idealize the native culture might be as damaging to an adoptee as ignoring it. Asian-American activists have for decades fought the idea that you are born with a culture - that if you look Asian, you must eat with chopsticks, wear different clothing, speak a different language; that you are different and thereby less American. Parents, to some extent, are asking children to conform to those expectations. And without adequate acknowledgement of the reality that actually is - their experience in America - I suspect that children might have an even harder time figuring out where they belong.

She goes on to say:

But focusing on a museum view of culture can ignore - or become a way to ignore - the reality of life as a racial minority in America.

And finally:

This is a danger, I think, in presenting the birth country and family in an overly romantic way, and in raising a child’s expectations that they will and should fit in. Adoptees can end up feeling bad not only because they don’t fit in, but because they disappoint their parents.

How much culture are you giving your children? Is it more than the “museum view of culture”? Are there better ways to celebrate who they are and also help them deal with racism as an Asian American? Do you also share other cultures with you children?

Karen Maunu

Hope and Healing for Children in Need

1 comment:

  1. This is a great topic. We adopted our daughter 5 1/2 years ago. Even while we were still in China completing the adoption I thought I had it all figured out. Mya would not lose her Chinese culture....she would eat with chopsticks, wear cute little asian dresses and learn mandarin. This is what I thought...haha. For a couple of years I kept this up but as she got older she would start to fight some of it. She knows what she likes and it isn't always Chinese. When I bought her an American Girl doll she wanted blonde haired Julie but I begged her to get the asian doll.
    Two years ago our lives were literally turned upside down. As I recovered from these events I spent a lot of time thinking about what is important. I decided I was trying to form Mya into something she may not want to be. I've backed off a bit. I still think it is very important for her to learn about her culture but I don't think I need to cram it down her throat. I want her to be proud of the country she began her life in but I also want her to be proud to be American. I've noticed she has started asking more questions about China and her past. She is sure she is going to adopt a baby with a cleft lip from China. She says she wants to live in China when she is older. She also says she wants me to live with her and her husband so who knows what she really will want...haha.