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Diary of an immigrant family

April 8, 2010 3 comments

An interesting anecdote recently came to my mind, about families and the cultural, and possibly generational differences that exist within even the most cohesive family units.

Here, we have a family of five living in Canada, two parents and three siblings. This is an immigrant family from a country that upholds very different cultural values, where children’s upbringings are much more strict and structured. The three children of this family were all born in the family’s home country. The third was only an infant when the family moved to Canada, while the two older siblings were both already in grade school.
Along with the parents’ decision to move to Canada comes the inevitable reality that their children will be brought up in a much different cultural environment than back home. The parents wholly realize and accept this reality, and also know that they will still – or at least try to – hold on to their traditions within home and within the family unit. 
So the question becomes whether or not this kind of co-existent cultural dynamic is realistically possible? Can parents really raise their children within one external cultural environment and expect that the same children will be able to maintain a high level of their ancestral cultural background in the home? 
Are the differences in personal views between children and parents only inherent in an immigrant family like the kind described above, or is it also – or more-so – a generational difference?
Within the family described above, the oldest of the three children is very much like how the parents imagined: (s)he holds the values of the family’s own cultural traditions of structure and discipline, but is also very much Canadian in many of his/her values and attitudes. In this case, the end result that the parents aimed to achieve comes to fruition, and this first child is very much Canadian, while maintaining the values within the traditional family unit. 
The second child is much different, perhaps a little undecided about whether to uphold the family tradition or go in the complete opposite direction; ultimately, this one will fall to the side that makes the most sense to his/her personality. This child does not embody the kind of hard structure and discipline that the parents believe in and promote wholeheartedly, and he/she rejects traditional values of stability and security, which the parents believe must be the ultimate source of happiness. Instead, the second child lives a very liberal lifestyle open to many possibilities, believing that this is a much more realistic source of happiness for his/her personality.
The third child is Canadian in heart and soul. This child will uphold the traditions, values, and beliefs of the Canadian way and will live life accordingly. Meanwhile, the third can also understand and entirely support and respect the tradition and beliefs of the parents; after all, it is the Canadian way to be tolerant of all systems of belief, and to respect the traditions of all cultures. Like the second, the third maintains a liberal lifestyle open to many possibilities, BUT also understands the value in striving for some level of stability and security in order to find eventual happiness.
So how much of these differences are cultural – a dialogue relevant to immigrant families – and how much of this is simply generational – a dialogue between all parents and children?

Clearly, these kinds of personality conflicts within a family unit can exist within immigrant families and native families alike. The question is more about how the family members treat these differences. The parents of the immigrant family will often be very strict and impose rather restrictive expectations upon their children and their personal lives, eg. to marry someone of the same cultural/racial background; or to go to University and get a job they can keep until they retire.

Would we also find these same kinds of high impositions from parents on their children in native families? Certainly it exists, but is it then more of a generational, rather than cultural conflict of personalities; and do we see these generational conflicts within a family as much as we see the cultural ones within an immigrant family like the one described above?

Based purely on subjective empirical evidence, I believe that in Canada, we see a lot more of the cultural conflict within immigrant families, and this does make sense given that Canada is widely known to be an incredible cultural mosaic. The generational conflicts within a family unit will exist more in countries that have a much deeper history, and a more one-dimensional cultural dynamic.

We see the generational conflicts much more in America, and this dynamic is played out and popularized in American mainstream media, in movies and TV dramas and sitcoms. Given this realization, perhaps Canadian media could create an entire industry that focuses more on the cultural context that exists here, for example, Little Mosque On The Prairie…?!?

But I digress! 

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Charlie Winston

April 7, 2010 Leave a comment

… And here’s another great artist to look out for, Charlie Winston.

I saw Charlie and his band open for Bedouin Soundclash at The Mod Club in Toronto, and they were excellent, and Charlie was genuinely entertaining. And whadya know, he’s British!

Is it just me, or does so much great music really originate in the UK? Them cheeky Brits come up with so much that is new and great, a new groove or idea; and then Americans steal it, popularize it, and make all the money from it… damn Yankee hacks! =P

In any case, listen to Charlie Winston. If I had to describe his music in one word… GENUINE!

http://www.charliewinston.com

Categories: Uncategorized