Issue Five: Parental Language

Asians Between Cultures

The stories here speaks of a new consciousness amongst young people to find and forge their identity in this brave new world. Being born across cultures is not a choice one makes but should be being a privilege. Some see it as an inescapable state of being. As a practising mental health clinician, I have seen people and families caught up in some of these issues. Some adapt and accept to embellish their heritage. Yet others have had allowed themselves to be swallowed into the abyss of social and family disconnect, torn between wanting to belong to the community they were born into and navigating the parent’s culture and language. E.g. the issue of having to accept or reject language as one’s native tongue and/or accept it a second language. Schools and the education system regard the person as having an advantage over others in high school courses and exams whereas the person, may in fact be as new to the learning of their own language, as any other Australian born here. Should one be punished for not knowing your parent’s native language well? I have also seen young people who cannot communicate effectively with their overseas born parents. The lack of bonding and connection that often is the eventual outcome of this unique language barrier, perhaps almost irreparable. This new consciousness allows for the open and wider exploration of these particular issues, perhaps even at a broader level. One should not to feel cloistered or ashamed of being in this unique situation but to find resolution.