Posts Tagged ‘Cultural Assimilation’

Hola, mi vida!

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Venezuelans, and I guess many other Latin American cultures, are notorious for their use of terms of endearment. On any given day, I’m addressed as “mi vida”, “mi

1983 - Terms of Endearment

amor”, “mi reina” countless times by perfect strangers. I know there are American expats who have talked about how they like this familiarity and consider it endearing, but I really don’t. I think it’s trite. Having been sort of the baby in the family for so long, each family member developed a nickname or a term of endearment that they only used for me. I became used to feeling special simply because no one ever used my name. I couldn’t wait to have someone younger that I could make up a unique name for and I didn’t get one until my cousin was born when I was 14. Unfortunately, other family members beat me to the punch and everyone called him by the same nickname. Now I have my little offspring to call all sorts of cutsie names, which I’m sure they’ll tell me to stop using when they get older. As a matter of fact, it’s probably one of my favorite perks of being a parent (it’s the little things, right?).

In the Haitian culture, there are many terms of endearment that are used with those you love, too. The difference I think – at least from my upbringing – is that you only use them with people to whom you are close. There are people (my husband being one of them) who will throw out a “cherie” to waitress or someone – female, of course – in a business setting. But for me, it rings bizarre. Maybe part of it is my anglophone side that thinks there should be clear boundaries with relationships, which in turn is reflected by the language you use. Anyway, isn’t it a fact that the more rare something is the more value it has? Well, I feel the same about terms of endearment.

Do you agree with me or do you think I’m being oversensitive? Hey, I’ve been called worse things :P

P.S. The picture is from one of my favorite movies of all time. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you do so when your head’s in a good place. It’s that consuming.

Hovering is not for me

Monday, September 26th, 2011

The past few weeks have been all about getting used to early mornings again and of course the obligatory parent/teacher meetings (I think we called them “open house” when I was growing up). During the meeting for my daughter, who is in 4th grade now, I noticed something strange…

The teacher was going over the curriculum and the weekly schedule for assignments. She also gave an overview on each subject, as well as how she was going to evaluate them. Every time she mentioned a schedule, I saw parents’ heads go down to write. That’s when I noticed that the majority of them had notepads. What?! You’re taking notes at a parents orientation…for your 4th grader?!

HelicopterOf course I had a moment when I thought – should I be taking notes, too and are they judging me because I’m not? But then I remembered – oh yeah, my daughter is the one responsible for her assignments and quizzes – just like I was when I was her age. I mean, if I do this now, when will it stop? When she’s 12? 15? 18? At what point am I supposed to let her take ownership of her work?

I’ve heard about helicopter parenting and how Generation X’ers (which I’m part of) are guilty of it. But that was in the US. I didn’t realize that I would witness this phenomenon in Venezuela. But then I realized, of course I would. Many Latin American parents expect their children to live with them until they get married. And if they don’t get married, they never leave. I know that this has changed a lot in metropolitan areas, but I know quite a few Caraquenos in their 20’s who live at home. They simply don’t see a reason to move out.

I know that there are many factors to this – economy, limited housing, parents in need of financial support, etc. and I also think that you can live with your parents and still exhibit a sense of independence. However, your parents would have to start instilling these values early on…like before the 4th grade.

So, while I can respect Venezuelans’ (as well as many Americans) penchant to be heavily involved in their children’s lives, I’m going to stick to the agreement I have with my daughter; I will trust her to do what’s right/necessary until she proves otherwise. How do you feel about helicopter parenting?

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