When raising your child in America, should you instill Ethiopian values or American values? Is there any American way to raise a child and an Ethiopian way to raise a child? (insert any other immigrant group besides Ethiopian if applicable).
Ethiopians that immigrate to America from Ethiopia are forced to raise their children in an environment totally different from the one that they grew up in. Can you imagine, raising your child in a place where you have never lived before? Language barriers, cultural barriers, fitting into society are all barriers that the immigrant parent has to overcome. How does he or she navigate through these obstacles and raise a child at the same time? I can’t imagine. But people do it every single day. And amazingly the kids turn out just fine. But sometimes, they take a turn for the worst. Sometimes the concept of dualism ends up causing confusion rather than stability. So where do you find the balance?
Ethiopian parents (or any immigrant parent at that) cannot attempt nor pretend to know the American culture perfectly. I think creating a mutual understanding between the child and the parent will allow the child to see that the parent will remain in control. The issue is that kids figure out how to fit into the dominant culture (American culture) faster than the newly immigrated parents do. Children are really like a sponge and adjust much more quickly than the parents do. Here’s where I think the balance comes in, Parents should simply raise their kid however they feel most comfortable. Don’t try to conform into a culture that you know nothing about, because then you just look ridiculous and your child won’t respect you. I think that the fear many have is that raising their child with Ethiopian norms will create an identity crisis. Listen, trust me there are way more things going on in the world that will cause an identity crisis. (I know that is coming out SOO HARSH sounding, but its the truth). When you , the parent, show confidence in your own culture and parenting style, your child will respect you and you will remain in control. Honestly, the same morals, values and rules of society apply around the world. So don’t worry, you won’t confuse your child.
You might be saying, how can you be so sure about these results. Honestly I’m not. I don’t have kids. I’ve never actually raised a child. But I did grow up in a big family. My parents did raise me using their dominant culture, Ethiopian culture. They made me respect their culture, not by force but by showing me that their culture was something to be proud of. They made me feel like it wasn’t anything different than any one else, in fact they made me feel like it was my own. I instinctively crated a sort of dualism in my mind. On the other hand, (this next comment is solely based on my own social community observations) it is my observation that parents that try to assimilate to American culture, when it is something they actually have not adapted to, seem to lose control of their child. I know I talked about issues relating to Identity Crisis in previous posts, but I don’t think being raised with a dualism in my culture is the sold reason for that identity crisis. (And It wasn’t really a CRISIS per se, I survived!!) I think that identity crisis is inevitable for anyone coming of age in this multi cultural multi ethnic society called America!
This is just my Ethiopian American Girl opinion: Balance who you are as an individual and when you show confidence in who you are, your child will respect that. That has been my experience. Please share your experience and opinions here!!