We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Intergenerational Conflicts

essay
The whole doc is available only for registered users

A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

In all kinds of ethic groups in the United States, Asian Americans such as Chinese and Indians are considered as the largest immigrant group. Although conflicts are inevitable between parents and children, immigrant families face more challenges in intergenerational conflicts, and there are several reasons. First of all, the disagreement of different values and assumptions between two cultures mainly cause family conflicts. For Chinese immigrant parents, they follow the Confucian values, which emphasizes filial piety, hard work, service and achievements in education and occupations as standards in lives (Foner, p. 21); however, children who are born and raise in American culture, seek more independence and freedom for their own aspects, and majority results against their parents. Moreover, issues of discipline and respect may easily create gaps between generations.

For the second generations, who are reared in American culture and refuse to follow the rules and origin culture, consider their parents as old-fashion and arrogant, and “ [t]he parents, with their (sometimes idealized) old world standards, often think their children are rude and disrespectful ” (Foner, p.5). Besides, exceeding expectations and inabilities of language interpretation for some immigrant parents also struggle the relationships with their children (Lieber, p.35). Even though intergenerational conflicts in immigrant families in the U.S. may weaken the relationship between parents and children, as children grow up as adults, those conflicts actually help strengthen the relationship in the long run.

Intergenerational conflicts may cause negative consequences for both parents and children. Discrepancies of warmth from parents may influence the attitude of immigrant children in a negative way. For example, some Asian immigrant parents such as India are not very expressive with their children physically and emotionally, and this makes Asian American adolescents, who have been taught to obviously express feelings, think their parents are not showing the warmth to them as the way they expect (Wu, p.516). Moreover, for immigrant parents, they intend to dominate their children in beliefs and behaviors due to the fear of losing origin. A psychology study shows that “ [p]arents who were socialized throughout their childhood and early adulthood in their country of origin are likely to have a stable and established sense of Asian identity “ (Wang, p. 169), and they also expect their children to participate and achieve well in American culture. As a result, conflicts of high expectations to maintain two different cultures and outstanding achievement would easily cause mental stress, depression and anxiety for immigrant adolescents.

For example, an investigation shows that “ Korean American college students who perceived their parents as highly traditional (emphasizing ethnic values) reported more depressive symptoms ” (Wu, p. 517), and another study also indicates that “Young people in Filipino and Chinese families are under tremendous pressure from their parents to get good grades, to graduate from college, and to pursue “practical” careers such as law, medicine, or engineering “ (Foner, p. 6). On the other hand, not only children, immigrant parents would also be affected negatively. For instance, children’s marginalization of maintaining original culture would cause great frustration to immigrant parents, and even the failure in academic performance would also make them feel shame on the poor children, who consider themselves “working at least twice as hard as their American peers while feeling that their parents never think they work hard enough” (Foner, p. 6). Thus, commonly, people assume that the relationship between immigrant parents and children would be seriously affected and weakened due to these negative consequences.

However, when second generations grow up as adults, those conflicts they had before would make both parents and children change their point of view about each other and gradually develop better acculturation and adjustments. First of all, even though the intergenerational conflicts in immigrant families cause many arguments, dissatisfactions, frustrations, and even depressions between parents and children, their relationship does not really break apart as we thought. In a case study, the author explains, “even when young people chafe under parental constraints and obligations, the vast majority feel deep affection for and loyalty to their parents and grandparents and recognize the importance of family and the need to assist and support family members “ (Foner, p. 8), and the family actually “ create[s] strong emotional ties that bond members together “(Foner, p. 8) although it is not obviously shown from parents and children. Thus, when children become adults, their ways of thinking would change and may start thinking maturely.

For example, for Chinese immigrant families, filial responsibility, which emphasizes the importance of care for and supporting each family member, plays an extremely important role in Chinese values (Diwan, p. 55). Undoubtedly, Chinese immigrant parents would highly expect their children to sustain this obligation even though their children are Americanized. As for immigrant adolescents, who have already been pressured by other expectations from their parents, may create marginalization and cause family conflicts; however, as growing as adults and facing the reality of the world, they may reflect those conflicts in the past and recognize the importance of supporting and caring family. Also, they may begin to understand why their parents insist to maintain the traditions and beliefs in their host culture (Diwan, p. 58).

Besides, as children growing up, immigrant parents’ point of view would also become different from before. For instance, since immigrant children are still developing their characteristics, some immigrant parents set up strict parental guidance in order to establish and shape their children’s personalities or perceptions in the way they expect; nevertheless, after their children become adults, some parents may not be as strict as before due to the belief that their children are able to be responsible for their own lives. In the case of changing point of views, both parents and children would start trying to accept different beliefs from each other, and mentally, acculturation and adjustments would be successfully formed.

Furthermore, after changing point of view, behaviors would also consequently change to form a better relationship between immigrant generations. Since the point of view has become different and both parents and children become more willing to accept the differences, their behaviors would gradually change for reconciliation; in other words, to strengthen intergenerational relationship. For parents, they become more flexible in discipline, not as stubborn as they used to be. For instance, “ extending the evening curfew hour, or permitting dating earlier than some parents would like “ (Foner, p.8); besides, choices of career, interests, and even marriage arrangement can also be negotiated, which is different from the past that children are expected to obey their parents’ decisions without objections. A research about parenting practices among Indian immigrant families indicates that “ some parents are trying to learn new ways to discipline their children; some are learning new techniques from their children, who explain how American or Americanized friends are disciplined “ (Foner, p.8), and this study shows that immigrant parents are trying to change themselves in order to get closer to their children.

Moreover, as for the second generations, unlike the time as adolescents, instead of preferring to be alone with friends, they behave more caring about family members and voluntarily provide support when there is a need. For example, language barriers were used to be one of the conflicts among some immigrant parents and children. However, after the change of point of view, some Chinese second generations no longer feel shame about their parents’ inabilities of language interpretation, and an investigation shows that some second generations become more willing to help their parents deal with language problem, and some immigrant parents even improve their language ability from their growing children (Costigan, p. 1253). Besides, for some immigrant Asian-American writers, who realize their identity in two different cultures, appreciate their parents and share their appreciation by writing children books, and “many of them write about their past frustration of living two different cultures as well as use stories to express their new appreciation of the hard- ships their parents and grandparents endured and of the ethnic culture they transmitted “ (Mo, p.182).

Truong Tran, a Vietnamese-American writer who has immigrated to the U.S since the age of five, writes an introduction in the book Going Home, Coming Home that “ It took me 25 years to return—to Vietnam, and to myself as a Vietnamese. In doing so, I discovered myself as an American. I am not one or the other but in fact both… It is a story of discovering that home is not a place rooted in a country but a feeling rooted in the heart ’’ (qut. in Mo, p.10), and this well describes the feelings of the second generation Asian-Americans. Therefore, since both immigrant parents and children begin to change mentally and physically for a better acculturation, “ children are less prone to feel embarrassed by their parents and more willing to accept parental guidance, thereby reducing the likelihood of intergenerational conflict “ (Foner, p.8); in other words, intergenerational conflicts would be minimized.

Finally, intergenerational conflicts are inevitable in immigrant families, and these conflicts often bring out confrontations, discrepancies of values and assumptions, and disappointments of defiance between immigrant parents and children. Sometimes, intergenerational conflicts may raise negative outcome and harm the relationship between generations. Nevertheless, intergenerational conflicts can be actually reduced and the relationship can also become tighter if both parents and children try to change their previous point of views, which are against each other, and show acceptance of different values and beliefs. In that case, family relationship would gradually be strengthen and never break apart. Furthermore, if the society can contribute and assist immigrant families more; for instance, establishing free language learning for immigrant parents who have problems with English expressions, or organizing some consulting centers for immigrant parents to ask for help when there are conflicts between them and their children. If there are more assistances and help for immigrant families, intergenerational conflicts would be reduced faster and earlier instead of waiting for the second generation growing as adults, in which it would takes more time.

Work Cited

Wu, Chunxia, and Chao, Ruth K. “Intergenerational Cultural Conflicts In Norms Of Parental Warmth Among Chinese American Immigrants.” International Journal Of Behavioral Development 29.6 (2005): 516-523. Academic Search Premier. Web. 22 May 2012.

Foner, Nancy. Across Generations : Immigrant Families In America. New York University
Press, 2009. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 21 June 2012.

Lieber, Eli, et al. “Ethnic Identity, Acculturation, Parenting Beliefs, And Adolescent Adjustment: A Comparison Of Asian Indian And European American Families.” Merrill-Palmer Quarterly 53.2 (2007): 184-215. Academic Search Premier. Web. 14 June 2012.

Wang, Jenny Jiun-Ling, et al. “Parent–Child Cultural Marginalization And
Depressive Symptoms In Asian American Family Members.” Journal Of Community Psychology 34.2 (2006): 167-182. Academic Search Premier. Web. 14 June 2012.

Costigan, Catherine L., and Daphné P. Dokis. “Relations Between Parent–Child Acculturation Differences And Adjustment Within Immigrant Chinese Families.” Child Development 77.5 (2006): 1252-1267. Academic Search Premier. Web. 14 June 2012.

Mo, Weimin, and Wenju, Shen. “Home: A Feeling Rooted In The Heart.” Children’s Literature In Education 38.3 (2007): 173-185. Academic Search Premier. Web. 14 June 2012.

Diwan, Sadhna, Sang E. Lee, and Soma Sen. “Expectations Of Filial Obligation And Their Impact On Preferences For Future Living Arrangements Of Middle-Aged And Older Asian Indian Immigrants.” Journal Of Cross-Cultural Gerontology 26.1 (2011): 55-69. Academic Search Premier. Web. 14 June 2012.

Related Topics

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
icon
300+
Materials Daily
icon
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
icon
Free Plagiarism
Checker
icon
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access
immediately?

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!

logo

Emma Taylor

online

Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59