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Meet my Children

By Shalini Dewan

(Natalie’s mom)

It seems to me that raising kids for anyone is not easy. But I thought I was doing a pretty darn good job considering I wasn’t making the same mistakes my parents who are immigrants from India had made on me. I thought I was more liberal, more understanding, had the right mixture of push and pull to bring out their best. Until I realized too late that I had ignored a critical manual my children were writing and demonstrating on what I should have and shouldn’t have done.

I am a first-born generation of South Asian immigrants. My values were a combination of what I learned from my parents, values that are oftentimes contradictory with not only the cultural standards of today’s generation but also out of step with norms across my country of origin currently.

Our children are subject to confusing signals, not because we are wishy washy but because we ourselves are in flux learning and embracing culture slowly, too slowly for our kids to notice we are changing too. What we say to them when they are very young is not our reality 15 years later when we have also grown up in the new culture. But how will they know that?

They are now off to college or out starting lives of their own and our interactions dwindle to phone calls 1 to 2 times a week, 2 to 3 visits a year. What was in the manual my kids had written? I wished I had read it then. Simply to listen more, to spend less time teaching, more time with them laughing, and always, even as teenagers, to respect their point of view.

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One Response to Meet my Children

  1. alisha November 10, 2010 at 1:17 am #

    i agree. I have 2 grown ups too and from experience have learnt that as parents we need to know them more than just teach teach teach. We need to listen more than just talk talk talk. We need to be friends more than teachers lecturers and principals. We need to know them as humans first.
    So true after 15 yrs of having taught them what v did when they were young, we ourselves change in our views and thinking as parents and so no need to b harsh on them when they r young.

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