THE ROLE OF FAMILY IN THE LIVES OF ASIAN AMERICANS

Tuesday, May 21, 2024 10:58 AM | Anonymous

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By Kusum Punjabi, LMFT, Director of DEI

The racial identifier ‘Asian’ huddles under one umbrella individuals from more than thirty different nations and ethnic groups. Each of these groups has its own customs, languages and cuisines that are distinct from one another.

Being Taiwanese or Pakistani or Bhutanese is a distinct way of being. This way of being is preserved in America within families, and in homes.

Most Asians consider their connection to their ancestral roots a source of pride and belonging, identifying more by ethnicity rather than by race.

In America, members of Asian communities often occupy dual identities- the acculturated ‘American’ one and the one from their culture of origin.

How children are parented within Asian families is often stereotyped in America. Customs such as close parental involvement or children’s obligation to parents is misunderstood when seen through a Eurocentric cultural lens.

Studies have shown that children brought up in homes where their values are in alignment with the values of their parents turn out fine.

It’s when one generation holds onto the traditional way, and the newer one feels pressured to assimilate, that problems begin to arise.

The river of assimilation runs powerfully and cannot be stopped. And yet this is an opportunity for therapists to support their clients of Asian origin by leaning in to understand the role that family plays in their lives, and by critically examining Eurocentric psychologies and frames, before applying them to these families.

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