Living in Today's Society with Immigrant Parents

Diversity is something that is underappreciated and often overlooked. Canada has a globally recognized reputation of being a diverse country thanks to immigrants that have been lucky enough to settle here. You’ll find pretty much any colour, ethnicity, religion, and culture here – it’s pretty cool. Diversity brings education; it opens a variety of doors for people to learn about non-Western practices that many people from all over the world consider normal. In a way, it brings a sense of humility to the population. 

With immigration comes adaptability. Moving to an entire new continent is stressful on its own – facing language barriers, cultural differences, and completely different lifestyles makes it a journey only few are brave enough to face. If you thought moving to a new campus for school was crazy, imagine starting a whole new life in a whole different country with no help at all – just to put it into perspective.

Immigrants go through a lot, whether we realize it or not. You often hear about immigrants coming to Canada or the U.S. to get a better education. Generally, the people who embark on this journey are young – usually in their 20s. Although they had the opportunity to immigrate young, at that age most people have developed their own views, cultural values and morals. In a new country, there will definitely be a variety of influences, but a person’s core values rarely ever change. This shows the integrity of the person, which is admirable, but what happens when you carry the values from wherever you were born and raised, and you have your own children in a whole other society? There’s bound to be some clashes here… 

Learning to understand different cultures is super interesting, but also super complicated. Especially with living in a country as large and diverse as Canada, everyone is exposed to new things and different perspectives. When you’re an immigrant and you’re away from your family, the only help you have when it comes to raising a family is to look back on your own experiences growing up. You can see where I’m going with this… 

Growing up in a country across the world is completely different than growing up in North America. The culture, customs, food, and, of course, the people, are different! When you have immigrant parents, there is a need for balance. A balance between honoring your cultural values, and creating your own morals from personal experiences. There often is a struggle in managing this balance, but it’s extremely necessary. 

It requires understanding from both parties – the kids AND the parents. I think it’s crucial for parents to realize that, whether they like it or not, your child is growing up in a completely different environment than you. It is what it is. In Canada, concepts of culture, religion, relationships and even career choices are vastly different than those of foreign countries in varying continents. As much as some may disagree, this is the way it is and this is what growing up in Canada exposes you to – a child will not, and cannot, be just like their parents. 

Diversity brings questions and curiosity. What often ends up happening when a kid begins to question cultural or religious values they’ve been exposed to, parents immediately get worried and disappointed.

Parents! This one’s for you... CALM DOWN! Being raised in a diverse and accepting society encourages questions. This doesn’t mean that your kid is going to turn into someone who you don’t approve of, it simply means that you’ve raised your child well enough to be self-aware. The blessing that is self-awareness is having trust within yourself to question, process, and learn about all the things you’re told. So essentially, let your child figure things out for themselves!

In today’s world, it is so important to be open-minded. A common theme among immigrant parents is that culture and religion is absolutely everything. In reality, most people raised in this society value respect, integrity, and strength in character over anything else. Having different views is not wrong, it’s simply a difference in personalities and characters. Part of being in a family is learning to accept and respect each other’s differences.

That being said... 

Dear Parents, 

Don’t create a barrier with your child over a difference in cultural or religious views. If your child makes you proud, is working or going to school; shows you respect; has great friends; and shows discipline, responsibility, strength and integrity, be proud of that child. That is the person you’ve raised, that is what matters! Your childhoods were completely different – embrace that!

With love, 

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