Because I’m the Parent, and I…

said so! How many of us hated this response from our parents? I sure did. I wanted reasons, and I try to not use this response and instead provide reasons why things should be done. But the fact remains that I am the parent, and most of the time I do know best, at this point in our son’s life.

Several times everyday I require my son to do things he doesn’t really want to do. I make him try new foods. Get dressed instead of staying his PJs all day. Play independently. Pick up his toys. Brush his teeth. Be respectful in how he speaks and treats others. And the list goes on, as I’m sure it does for most parents. And why do we require these things of our children? Because we’re trying to help them become well-rounded, responsible, considerate, and content adults who understand who they are and what place they hold in the world.

So why do so many adoptive parents think differently about their child’s birth culture? I hear so many parents talk about how their child doesn’t want to do this or that when it comes to birth culture so they just let it go, and let the child’s interest guide them. Not at our house.

I guess I’m a bit of a “tiger mom;” some things aren’t negotiable in our house. (And no, I don’t condone the whole “tiger mom” persona, like calling your child names.) Learning Korean isn’t negotiable in our house. Our son will learn the language of his birth culture, as will the rest of the family. How we learn and when we study, those are negotiable. Learning about Korean history, geography, and culture aren’t negotiable for our family. Again how we do this is negotiable.

Do some adoptive parents feel that they CAN’T require these things of their kids because it’s not their culture? Or do they just not feel comfortable teaching something they didn’t grow up with? Or are they just not interested in learning it themselves so they can teach their kids?

I don’t know the answer. But, just as I don’t think most children would make good nutritional choices if left to make their own decisions, I don’t think young children can know what their needs are when it comes to knowing and understand their birth culture.

That’s why we as parents must embrace the birth cultures and languages of our children. I truly believe that parenting is 75 percent example, and 25 percent instruction (words). If we set the example, if we show an interest and a passion, I believe our kids will too. After all those cultures and languages are part of who are children are; where they come from is part of them. By embracing it, we’re embracing and accepting our children on a whole new level.

Will they fight it at times? Probably. Our son at 5 is already saying some days that he doesn’t want to study Korean. But we do it anyway. And someday, I believe, he’ll be thankful we did.

3 Responses to “Because I’m the Parent, and I…”

  1. 1 Kim
    February 13, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    So glad I found you! (Thru T.M.’s blog) I so totally agree. Learning Spanish is not negotiable in our family (all of us – me too!). Neither is going to the local Hispanic church and becoming involved in the lives of our friends there.

    Kids don’t KNOW what they need all the time. That’s why they need parents – to meet the needs they have but don’t know they have. We do it with learning to read, going to school, potty training… and a host of other things that kids don’t naturally “just do because they know they need to.” In my opinion, if we wait till our kids are old enough to know that they need to learn about and fit into their cultures, we’ve waited to the point where a) they already stick out and don’t fit, and b) they’ll go about getting that acculturation without us, instead of feeling like we’ve been there on their team all along.

    Yes, yes, yes!

    • 2 Mom2One
      February 14, 2011 at 11:32 am

      Yep, I totally agree. When our kids are old enough to know they needed these things, it’s often too late to provide them. I really think we as parents have a window of opportunity in “normalizing” things for our kids. I did a post about that a while back. I think that even if we wait too long to begin language and learning the culture, it doesn’t feel right for our kids. It’s something weird or not normal. Our son doesn’t know anything else. As a family we’ve always: spoken some Korean; cooked Korean meals; celebrated the holidays; hung out with other adoptive families; gone to Korean American community events; etc. And we started doing a Korean class for adoptive families when he was 2. All of these things are just part of who our family is and what we do. It’s all normal and natural for him. I’m interested in seeing if that changes at all as he moves into the tweens and teens.

  2. February 14, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Thanks for writing this — really appreciate your perspective!

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My Korean Culture Blog

Just a reminder that if you want to learn more about Korean culture (both traditional and pop culture), language resources, and cooking, check out my other blog: thekoreanway.wordpress.com It's filled with resources for adoptive families or anyone interested in Korean culture.

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Please Teach Me English
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