Trying to preserve your culture while living in a foreign country can be tricky, and overwhelming. Especially when you are raising your children there. The world your children live in is vastly different from the one you grew up in, the only exposure to which they have inside the home.
Outside the home, they are growing and developing with their peers - through their schooling, social interactions and global exposure. This can create some turbulence in the home, especially if the children are constantly caught between the values they are growing up with and the values their parents are trying to instill in them.
Perhaps you feel overwhelmed because there is tension in your family relationships?
You could be feeling left out, lonely or disconnected.
..... your growing children are not sharing the same value system as you.
..... your spouse and you seem to be on two different pages, culturally.
..... you are fighting tooth and nail to protect your values but are only facing resistance from your children.
….. You are no longer sure what success looks like - what is success really?
We are living in a complex system of multiple beliefs and values, fighting for space and recognition. Our first instinct is to make things easier by rejecting the values that we don’t identify with or that contradict the ones we do. This strategy could work in theory - for a lone wolf, because, since they don’t have active, meaningful relationships, their rigid value system never comes into question.
For Desi families living and raising children abroad, this is a common area of concern. The Indian value system is diverse, and often considered rigid - especially in comparison to liberal western values.
Maybe, instead of trying to simplify things by rejecting the values that don't suit us, what if we shifted focus towards trying to broaden our perspective - to try and understand these values based on their situational or personal relevance.
This shift in perspective can take place only in a space of listening, accepting and respecting.
The first step would be to acknowledge that your value system is only one of many diverse value systems or combinations of these systems in the world. Second, would be to accept that although the differing values may seem “wrong” to us, they are not inherently wrong - they are simply different.
Giving our children space to grow and develop their own system of values, based on their independent experiences, including those within the home, will allow them to choose the beliefs that work best for them.
Children also need to be able to express these values, so they need to have a safe space, where they are heard, and accepted unconditionally. Their family, ideally, should be this safe space.
Parents often find it difficult to understand the values their children have adopted, or in some cases, they cannot understand why their children have developed values that are different from the ones they have been taught at home. The question that arises here is “how do you respect something you don’t understand?” Or “how do you let go of something that seems to be essential to your own value system for the preference of your spouse or child?”
A lot of us struggle with the exploration of our vulnerability because of our upbringing or values we have derived from our own upbringing. Despite the desire to connect with our children, not all of us are willing or able to risk the vulnerability that is required when trying to understand, accept and respect different, and often conflicting values, especially when they are within the home.
You might feel like it's not even possible for you to change or that even if it were possible, it is simply too difficult. Let us assure you - it is not impossible, it might well be difficult, but it is also worth it - to be able to restore your family relationships.
If these feelings resonate with you, you’ve come to the right place. Attend our online workshop -
“Supporting Desi Families - an Introduction”
On 4th September 2021 at 10:00 PM IST