The Struggles of Having Immigrant Parents

My parents immigrated to America in the early 1980s from India, and were obviously going to stand out like sore thumbs in a foreign country. They grew up in households that held traditional stereotypes, such as men have to earn money and be strong while women are supposed to take care of the children, cook, and clean. Obviously, after spending over 30 years in a different country their views of the world should change … but did they? 

Around the age of 16, my dad would start bringing up the topic of marriage and having children almost every single day. He would always say that I have to follow whatever my future husband says, do chores, and watch my future children. He told me that getting a college degree is definitely helpful in today’s society but it’s okay to not work depending on the annual household income that my future husband was going to make.

This frustrates me so much. I don't want to follow the same ridiculous stereotypes that my parents had to follow from over 30 years ago. Growing up in a small town, I was always jealous of my classmates as their parents did not seem to care what they majored in, when they got married, or who they hung out with. It’s hard coming from a different background because I do not get the same freedom as the other kids did. 

I had to constantly listen to being told that I was a “bad girl” for not doing a certain chore properly. It’s almost as if everything I do revolves around this future relationship that I’m going to have, and I don’t get to do anything without having to worry about how I would be viewed in society. In fact, I was told by my dad’s friend, “Girls only need to be 40% smart, but the other 60% comes from looks.” This dumb statistic just shows hard it is from girls to be viewed as anything other than maids for their husbands in Asian culture. 

A lot of Asian parents have trouble breaking their viewpoints because they don’t want their kids to end up like the bad ones. In Asian households, there are always only two sides. One is whatever your parents say which is the only option that can be good. Such as if they say to become a doctor or an engineer, you should do it so you make a lot of money. Or you don’t follow what they say and end up on the streets doing illegal activities. There is no in-between. They believe that whatever they have in mind is what you should do because that is the only path that will lead you to be successful.

Similarly, a lot of Asian kids are described as ABCDs, an American Born Confused Desi. This means a South Asian kid who was born and raised in the U.S. but has ancestors from an Asian country. The irony is that the ABCDs are not actually confused themselves but are viewed as “confused” because they don’t believe/follow the same strict stereotypes their parents did. By standing out and not conforming to societal standards, they are labeled as confused and apparently need help to be manipulated into following the traditional views. 

Growing up with a different culture has its pros and cons, but definitely can leave many Asians “confused” as to why we can’t have chill parents as White people do.