goals and values of their immigrant parents and their new society
The experiences of immigrant parents and those of their children tendto contrast sharply. The contrasting experiences become more apparentin cases where immigrant children hold the strange belief that theirparents immigrated for the interests of their children. Given theever changing political, social and economic aspects of immigration,immigrant children are, more often than not, confronted by differentchallenges from those of their parents. Similarly, the opportunitiesthat the new societies provide to the immigrant children aredifferent from the ones their parents had. This situation isbasically because the immigrant children stand better chances ofbeing completely in the new culture, as well as embrace its waysthus opening them up for different opportunities in the economy andlabor market. This brief overview will examine how the children ofimmigrants negotiate the frequently contrasting goals and values oftheir immigrant parents and their new society. The values andgoals of immigrant children are different and are pursued throughdifferent channels majorly due to differences in priorities betweenthe two groups.
Immigrant children, similar to non-immigrant children, holdthemselves with very high regard when it comes to their relationshipswith their parents. The immigrant children strongly hold the beliefthat their parents do entirely everything for their sake. Even theact of immigrating was done with the best interests of the childrenin heart (Marger77). However true the belief might be, the immigrantchildren tend to value the sacrifices that their parents make fortheir welfare. For instance, Young Ju learnt to appreciate the scarsand marks that were in the hands of her mother as she made numeroussacrifices for them (Lakhous 98). The arrangement drives themotivation of immigrant kids to attain a dynamic that grants theirparents a psychological regulation over their kids (Suárez-Orozcoand Marcelo 212).
Being brought in an immigrant family is largely, if not entirely,characterized by discordant acculturation when immigrant childrentend to lean the new culture while simultaneously losing their nativeculture surpass that of their parents (Garcíaand Amy 67). Once this is achieved, cultural gaps andlinguistic differences between immigrant children and their parentsintensifies the intergenerational conflicts (Marger79). Under such circumstances, immigrant kids fail tobe proud of their parents who struggle to blend with their friends.Some parents might manage to blend in easily and help their childrenwith socialization and guidance on how to navigate their youthfulyears in a strange land. However, the converse happens more oftenthan people would be willing to admit as parents fail to catch upwith their kids. Accordingly, children assume adult roles earlier inlife than it is socially approved (Garcíaand Amy 69).
Immigrants’ families struggle to come to terms with the generationgaps, acculturation to the new society and storm and stress ofadolescence. The entire process is extremely conflictive with lots offaults. As they navigate through the process, immigrant kids makelots of faults while they struggle to find their identity(Suárez-Orozcoand Marcelo 218). Having to choose between parentalpressures and peer pressure, immigrant children encounter numerouscontradictions in the expectations that either the society or parentshold to them, in the whole process of acculturation. For instance,Apa seems admits that she does not like Young Ju’s new friendbecause she is to American, and different from what she is used to(Lakhous 112).
The relations among immigrant families (intergenerational) aremanaged and shaped by divergent incorporation frameworks andreception, as well (Suárez-Orozcoand Marcelo 222). Similarly, relationships are exposeddiffering resources an vulnerabilities and thus the differences inthe negotiation strategies. Most importantly, immigrant children arecompelled by circumstances to modify their interpersonal responses,given the many influencing factors as the school per networks andfamily structure (Marger122). These factors, among others, influence howimmigrant kids imagine their future and sense of self-worth giventheir circumstances.
Negotiating Goals and Values
By the time they immigrate to a new destination from their nativeland, parents have already internalized the cultural ways of theirland. These parents are more inclined to preserve their nativecultural ways of dressing, eating and speaking (Suárez-Orozcoand Marcelo 212). The emigrant parents desire totransmit their treasured cultural values to their kids eliciting thefundamental nature of the intergenerational relationships. Therelationship are governed by how children and parents value eachother, as well as the expectations that they hold for one another.For the purpose of perpetuating the valued traditions, norms andcustoms, the emigrant parents are mandated to pass the culturalresources to their kids (Marger288). However, the transmission process is never a walkin the park and that explains why the process is never accomplishedsuccessfully. There has never been a perfect reproduction of culturefrom immigrant parents to the generation of their children. Rather,cultural transmission is accompanied by strained relationships in twoextremes, from absence of transmission to total transmission (Snow86). Successful transmission of culture, however, canbe achieved in cases where children acknowledge and are aware of thevalues of their parents as their own. Similarly, in the midst of theprocess of cultural transmission, the traditional influences of thegreater society play a significant role as it determines theacceptable strategies that can be utilized by immigrant parents forcultural transmission (Chuangand Robert 432).
In their attempts to define their positions in their peer groups,children readily accept new cultural easily and more readily thantheir parents (Suárez-Orozcoand Marcelo 265). The immigrant parents take it step bystep primarily because they have other priorities other than makingfriends further, children, more often than their parents, engage inmore elaborate negotiation processes with regard to transmission oftheir cultural and ethnic heritages, and their essential values(García andAmy 122). In some case, children might experienceinstances of confusion as they become concurrently acculturated, andthis explains for the hindered combined self-concept.
Studies have indicated that intercultural conflicts emerge at thepoint of contact between the two cultures that are involved (hostculture and culture of origin). As mentioned earlier, childrendemonstrate their intentions of negotiating for the cultural identitythat would best work for them. The outcome of the negotiation in theprocess of acculturation is defined with children becomemarginalized, assimilated, segregated or integrated (Garcíaand Amy 137). Each outcome describes the respectivelevel of acculturation, and they can also define whether childrennegotiated to retain their culture of origin, partially retainedtheir culture of origin and partially adopted the host culture ofentirely abandoned their original culture in favor of the hostculture (Snow86).
Intergenerational conflict is evidenced between children and theirimmigrant parents. The conflict results from existing gaps inorientation of values, skills and knowledge. On one side, parentshold onto their normative values (original) as they believe that theoriginal values them and their origin (Chuangand Robert 396). Under these assumptions, parents arereluctant to change, and if it ever happens, the changes that parentswelcome are partial and mild. On the contrary, children adapt fasterand they embrace the mainstream culture, which preferred to theiroriginal culture (Marger137). The implication of the above situations is that,intergeneration conflict is caused by the differences in levels andrate acculturation between parents and their children.
Further examination of how immigrant children negotiate for thevalues and goals in life shows that, the children seek to establishautonomy and independence from their parents. The said indiepdenceand autonomy is sought through rapid adaptation to cultural and valueethos hosting society (Garcíaand Amy 156). Although immigrant children seek moreautonomy and independence, their parents are never willing to givethe children what they seek. In such circumstances, children makeaggressive attempts to negotiate for their rights, while theirparents pursue the goals of retaining their authority.
Studies prove that the most common point of conflict in all immigrantcases is the boundary between the rights of children and the parentalcontrol and authority, as well (Snow112. The conflict, however, is motivated by immigrantchildren who believe that one of the major ways of ensuring that theywere accepted by their peers was by blending in the society. In thisrespect, the dressing mode, eating habits, language and generalconduct of immigrant children is more or less the same as thedominant culture (Marger345).
As parents fight to retain their authority and parental control,their children keep themselves busy seeking acceptance andrecognition in their new society, and thus the intergenerationalconflict. At some point, parents might give up their grip ofauthority over their kids following a couple of disappointments(García andAmy 237). One of the major drawbacks for the parents isthat the modes of punishment that they used to employ to disciplinetheir kids might not be acceptable. For people who take time toembrace new ways of life, parents find it difficult to keep up withtheir children in matters of discipline. On the same note, the issueof discipline is also relative depending with the culture of originand the host culture. Immigrant parents and their kids fail to agreeon the desirable aspects of the new culture (Snow288).
Negotiations with Peer Groups and School Environment
During their entire formal education period, adolescents and childrenspend a god deal of time in school while away from home (Chuangand Robert 356). Schools, for this reason, play asignificant role in children development, shaping their motivations,aspirations, as well as the things that they need to learn. Followingthe inception of the emigrant children in the 19thcentury, they have proved to be exemplary acculturation agencies(García andAmy 345). It is interesting to point out that, schoolsseparate adults from youths institutionally, with the ambition ofpreparing the youths for adult roles. Therefore, it goes withoutsaying that schools forms a vital avenue for the creating of peergroups.
Peer groups determines the exposure of emigrant kids to severalnetworks, and they also oblige differential associations, which theyouth can create within the peer groups. Such associations comealongside experiences and influences that result from thoseexposures. It is in the same school context that emigrant childrenencounter their native peers (Snow186). The native peers can act as models from whom theemigrant kids look upon for guidance, or as close friends. Similarly,emigrant children can look at their peers as a source of derogation,peer acceptance and peer pressure, or youth seductions and drugsubcultures (Suárez-Orozcoand Marcelo 288). The most conspicuous irony in schoolssetting is that, emigrant parents lay their entire hopes for socialimprovement of their kids, but always live in doubt of the safety andwell-being of their kids.
Emigrant Children Expectations and Aspirations
Different from their emigrant parents, children display and expressvarying aspirations and expectations form the host culture andsociety at large. Perhaps it is because their parents have alreadylived their life and have little chances of changing their fortunes,the emigrant parents do not display high expectations and aspirationsas their children (Garcíaand Amy 67). The children, on the other side, have awhole future in front of them, which can be influenced by theirchoices. Common to any other young person, the life aspirations andexpectations of emigrant children are always high compared to thoseof senior citizens.
Essentially, aspirations describe the desired future performancelevels and what every individuals wants to happen to his life.Contrarily, expectations describes the beliefs related to the stateof affairs in the future or the likelihoods of perceived contingency.Both aspirations and expectations signify the means through whichexperiences and past knowledge are employed by a person inpredicting, imaging and planning their future (Suárez-Orozcoand Marcelo 412). Notably, expectations are morerealistic than aspirations as what a person desires subjectivelysurpasses what they expect. On the same note, expectations, in mostcases, are consistent with previous behaviors or performances, andthey can more accurately predict the future performance (Chuangand Robert 376). Therefore, expectations are key blocksthat people employ to determine and make behavioral choices.
The ambitions of emigrant youth are related, more strongly, toquality of relationship than family structure. It is apparent that, areduction in parent-child conflict and a substantial upsurge infamily cohesion levels increases the educational expectancies ofyouths. The highest aspirations and expectations are held by thelanguage bilinguals whose academic excellence and abilities givesthem hope of future success in life. In most societies today,education is a serious determinant of the future job prospectscoupled with a possible high living standards. Emigrant children,contrary to their parents, seek educational excellence with the hopeof surpassing their parents in terms of achievement, and perhapsguarantee economic, political and social representation. Emigrantparents are more or less contented with the jobs that they got whenthey landed in a new land, and they are less aggressive in competingfor political or economic positions (Chuangand Robert 356).
The first similarity in the goals of the emigrant youths and that oftheir parents is evidenced in parents who show academic interest forthemselves. Parents who pursue higher education motivate their kidsto the same and attain, if not more, the same academic achievement astheir parents (Snow346). For instance, parent who attain a college degreemotivate their children to attain the same academic excellence, andperhaps manage to surpass their parents in the educationachievements. Similarly, in homes where education achievement isgiven the least regard, children from such families might therequired motivation to attain higher academic achievements(Suárez-Orozcoand Marcelo 324). However, there are rare cases ofchildren who, despite the conditions of their homes and educationinterests of their parents, seek academic excellence perhaps todisapprove their parents. For instance, Kims case in Girl inTranslation by Jean Kwok.
Furthermore, the school environment and peer groups determined howimmigrant children fantasized their future. As one would expect,immigrant children had lower expectations and aspirations in schoolenvironments, which were insecure. The same case is apparent inschools where learning is always disrupted by other students oroutside interference. The same results can be expected where studentsare involved in gang activities as dealing drugs (Garcíaand Amy 267). The possibilities of being discovered bythe school authorities are very high, and one would risk expulsionand jail time. In case of such misfortunes, emigrant kids wouldexperience inverted aspirations and expectations both in educationand life. Children who with low life aspirations and expectationstend to keep bad company, especially being associated with schooldrop outs. The only motivation that a school dropout can give astudent is following his steps and leave school, as well. Theconverse is perfectly true as students who keep the company offocused friends with plans to achieve the highest possible educationlevel are expected to have high expectations for success in life.
Precious have established that parental motivation were the strongestwhen it comes to inspiring emigration children to pursue highereducation. For instance, Kim’s mother bought her daughterdictionary to facilitate her vocabulary improvement (Kwok 126). Theobservations are based on the fact that, besides the peer pressureand environmental influences on children, the children tend toidentify and imitate their significant other. Parents are the mosttrusted figures by children, and the said trust is development fromchildhood. Although there are cases of children who complain thattheir parents do not understand them, the parent figure is the mostinfluential, and perhaps followed by elder siblings (Suárez-Orozcoand Marcelo 234). In a home where parents and eldersiblings embrace education and high achievement in life, the youngerkids are likely to follow suit, either out of pressure from home, orindividual motivation not to be left behind. For instance, Kim workshard and tops her class due to motivation from her mother, as well asher ambitions of living a better life, free from poverty (Kwok 89)
In conclusion, the values and goals of immigrant children aredifferent and are pursued through different channels majorly due todifferences in priorities between the two groups. Emigrant kids tendto negotiate their goals and values in ways that are different fromthose of their parents. The differences are brought by the shiftingpriorities between emigrant parents and their children. Similarly,the cultural differences are also high, especially considering thatchildren undergo complete acculturation. Emigrant children readilyembraces the host culture in search for approval and acceptance bytheir peers. On the contrary, emigrant parents remain reluctant whenit comes to embracing a new culture as they wish to retain theircultures of origin. Similarly, the emigrant parents try their best totransmit their cultures of origin to their children to ensure acontinuity of identity. The process of culture transmission, however,is not successful in children who fail to recognize and appreciatethe cultural values of their parents as their own. Intergenerationalconflicts result from children who seek their rights and parents whofight to retain their parental authority over children. Further,children readily adopt the new culture in search for independence andautonomy. Emigrant children negotiate for their place in the jobmarket through education. Parental motivation turns out to be thestrongest motivation for kids with high education aspirations andexpectations in life.
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