There is no doubt that South Asians put a high value on education. We invest heavily in our children’s education and see it as foundation for their success. This has its strengths; South Asians in the United States are largely represented as a highly educated and successful community. However, success in career and life is not solely determined by academics, especially in the United States, which values a more all rounded development for success. In fact, to compete on a level playing field, the soft skills and experiences can be as important as the academics.
Second generation children growing up in the United States experience both the advantages and challenges of growing up between two cultures. Balancing two cultures at a young age can be challenging until they mature enough to “find themselves”. This can create additional stresses for our children and young adults, which under stress can show up in unhealthy coping strategies. Many parents might be unaware of their children’s difficulties, or just not know how to help them, while other parents just leave it too late until it comes to a state of crisis. None of these are healthy responses, we need to find better ways to support our children.
At the same time, parents experience their own challenges, trying their best to navigate the demands and conflicts of two competing cultures. It is uncharted waters for parents, and an unknown path for helping their children navigate it as best they can. Despite this, parents want what they truly believe to be the best for their children and try their best to respond. However, best intentions are not always enough, especially at a time when parenting has generally become stressful and demanding across the board. Cultural and generational stresses are here to stay and they are experienced by every parent, even if it may feel like you are the only one going through these problems.
Help and resources are available to support you, you do not have to struggle through it alone. We hope you find these resources useful. Challenges make us stronger we can use the struggles to our advantage.
School Social Workers
Alicia McClung is a social worker based at Northview and Chattahoochee High Schools in Alpharetta, GA. She is representative of social workers based in schools to support the mental, emotional, and academic well-being of students. She offers valuable advice and insights for supporting your children and for how they can help.