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11:40 am: Not having is not the same as removing

This is a test post for working out the website/LJ process..

But because I have to type something:

I have noticed that my daughter is inundated with Chinese things: Chinese grocery stores, Chinese TV, Jackie Chan in Chinese on DVD.

Sometimes, I wonder if she would be better off if there was less. If she had just been immersed in American culture cold turkey. When I comment on this people say, “Why don’t you just not let her go there/watch that.”

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But not having something is VERY DIFFERENT than being denied it. If I deny it, then Mom is deliberately taking away something that brings her joy, and it is not clear to her why. This is entirely different from if it had not been there. If it was not there, I would not need to do anything. To explain to her why I am taking away something that matters to her is quite a different thing, quite different indeed.

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Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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[User Picture]
From:juliet_winters
Date:September 16th, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
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Well, what with budget squeezes we've had to, in the name of home economics, deny quite a few of the fripperies my daughter used to enjoy. Hard going at first. Has now adjusted. Cost might be a good reason. Nothing personal. Not a punishment.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:September 16th, 2010 06:04 pm (UTC)
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When there is a reason, that's fine. Not going as often to the store because of cost is okay. Not watching during the week during the school year...though she was outraged at this. Apparently, TV was their main activity in China.

The problem is denighing things that don't have any particular reason to them. I can do things like "no Chinese TV if you don't do X" but just saying "no watching in Chinese" seems harsh for no reason to her.
[User Picture]
From:juliet_winters
Date:September 16th, 2010 06:13 pm (UTC)
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Maybe for every half hour in Chinese she has to watch one hour in English or something like that? With total tv limits?

She's a practical kid. If you explain that w/o good English she will have a hard time getting a well-paying job when she's older...? Otherwise she will have a boring job and not be able to get the kinds of things she wants?

[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:September 16th, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC)
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It's a very tickly thing because, right now, she's still wants to rush back to China as soon as she's allowed to...so why does she need English? Yet, it is the lack of English that makes her less than happy here. So, we know that the English is essencial, but she does not.

I should add that one reason for this is that her goal in life is to help other orphans left behind in China. I am trying to help her to see that there are many ways to do this and that English will help all of them...but it's a complicated idea.

We try to have a balance. ;-)

Edited at 2010-09-16 06:16 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:juliet_winters
Date:September 16th, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
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An English-only day? For fun? ; )
Where she must use only English (no gestures) all day long?
We do that kind of immersion program for other kids learning languages. Could it work for her?
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:September 17th, 2010 12:29 pm (UTC)
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She's doing pretty well about using English. Her main problem is a very limited vocabulary.
[User Picture]
From:juliet_winters
Date:September 17th, 2010 01:08 pm (UTC)
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There's software for that. I'm trying one with my daughter.
[User Picture]
From:bojojoti
Date:September 16th, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC)
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Our country used to be called "the melting pot," because each culture that came conformed with the majority and learned to interact with its fellow citizens. Now, it is increasingly possible to come and remain separate from the majority. I'm all for retaining culture, but some effort must be made to understand and assimilate into the country to which one moves.

You are right that arbitrarily denying your daughter access to Chinese things would only frustrate and anger her needlessly.

It would be so beneficial for your daughter to find a good English-speaking girlfriend.

Praying for your family.
[User Picture]
From:samthereaderman
Date:September 17th, 2010 01:56 am (UTC)

Not so

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It is not true that in the past people melted but that today immigrants don't assimilate.

Ever hear of the Yiddish theater? Yiddish newspapers?

For that matter there was a sizable German culture in Pennsylvania in the 19th century such that some schools had instruction in German as well as in English.
San Francisco's Chinatown and the one in NYC date back to the 19th century.

Virtually every sizable immigrant group had a first generation that retained its language and culture, a second generation that knew both, and by the third or fourth retained little of the language and brought out the culture mainly as food and holidays.
[User Picture]
From:bojojoti
Date:September 17th, 2010 06:46 am (UTC)

Re: Not so

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You are right that there were communities that remained separate with their neighborhoods, churches and schools, especially in larger settlements, and different immigrant groups could remain insulated.

However, in most smaller communities--and there were many, many farming communities back then--people learned to speak English alongside their mother tongue. So, you had a rural community of Indians, Mexicans, Swedes, Germans, Czechs, French, Italians, Croatians, and Lebanese and the like all faced with the necessity of communicating with one another. In the Midwest, it was vital that each immigrant group learn English, as there were so many different ethnic backgrounds amongst relatively few people, and they didn't have the luxury of staying only to their own.

My husband's grandfather and grandmother were Russian Germans. They spoke German at home, but they spoke English in public. They were the first generation of immigrants to this country (arriving 1917). Their children grew up speaking only English as the war with Germany shamed them from speaking their parents' language.

With technology, the world has become smaller, and it is increasingly easier for someone like Ping-Ping to immerse herself in her culture and not step outside her comfort zone. That would not have been possible in a smaller community in the past. She would not have access to movies, books, or even communication in her culture if she didn't live amongst a large settlement of her people.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:September 17th, 2010 12:32 pm (UTC)

Re: Not so

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I don't think it is the process that changed so much as the will. It used to be that there was a cultural emphasis on joining the general culture...which did continuely gently change to reflect some of the newcomer's culture as well.

Nowadays, there is less positive emphasis on this, but it still goes on.

In fact, I heard about this just last night. My daughter's teacher talked about how quickly the children learn English and added that the only thing that made her sad was that by the end of two years, they lose the charming qualities they brought from their original culture...such as politeness.

Edited at 2010-09-17 12:33 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:juliet_winters
Date:September 17th, 2010 01:10 pm (UTC)

Re: Not so

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That used to be (and to a lesser extent still is) the job of public libraries. Part of outreach services. That particular mission was given to us back in the days of huge waves of European immigration and was one of the reasons people like Carnegie built public libraries.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:September 17th, 2010 12:28 pm (UTC)
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>It would be so beneficial for your daughter to find a good English-speaking girlfriend.

Ah...exactly.
[User Picture]
From:annafirtree
Date:September 17th, 2010 05:29 am (UTC)
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Out of curiousity, how comfortable do you feel putting your foot down with Ping-Ping? Do you feel as comfortable disciplining her as you do your other children? Or does the fact that she was already a teenager when you adopted her make that more difficult? (Or am I getting too personal for an over-the-web question?)
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:September 17th, 2010 12:37 pm (UTC)
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It's a more delicate thing. She is, oddly, more obedient than the boys...she has a habit of following rules. But she is also more reasonable. So, I try to reason things out if she understands.

The biggest difference is that if I tell her she did something wrong, she almost never does it again. With the boys, repeat offenses is the main problem (usually because their offenses are not conscious.)
[User Picture]
From:hannahsarah
Date:September 17th, 2010 08:43 am (UTC)
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It sounds like there's a very difficult adjustment phase going on. My best advice would be to find other parents who have adopted older Chinese children, and ask them how they handled things.

Best of luck, I hope you find a workable compromise soon.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:September 17th, 2010 12:54 pm (UTC)
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One of the problems is that the problems are brand new. Even five years ago, there were no Asian grocery stores near by. Now we have 5 in easy driving distance. Only a few years ago, there was no Chinese TV on the computer. Now, they put it all there. China doesn't make money from its TV the same way the West does. They have no reason not to post it all.

So, unless someone lives in an area like us with many Chinese groceries and restaurants and unless they adopted recently, they would not even begin to run into the same problems.

Overall, I think we're negotiating this pretty well. I just notice that stopping her from accessing stuff that is available is entirely different than if it had not been here.
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From:hannahsarah
Date:September 17th, 2010 06:49 pm (UTC)
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I wish I could be more help. I don't personally know anyone who's adopted a teen, or been adopted as a teen. Still, there must be a message board or forum out there for parents in your position. Can you discuss it with the social workers who helped you with the placement?

It sounds to me like you are doing a wonderful job so far, being sensitive to her needs and trying to get her acclimated at the same time. I wouldn't wish being a teen on anybody, and having a language barrier is hard, too.

I've been advised that if I want to move to Israel, I need to do it before Rivka reaches third grade if I want her to have an easy transition. The older the kids are, the more likely that they will rebel in their new country. That's why I'm starting Rivka in Hebrew immersion classes every Monday after school. If we do eventually immigrate (G-d willing, soon) she'll be much more prepared, and I can use her for a translator!
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:September 17th, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC)
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Sounds like you're making good choices about moving!

What I do have is contact with other parents adopting Ping-Ping's friends, but most of them have had their children for shorter times. There are a few parents on our list, though, who have had teens for a while. One told me that she had to cut her daughter off entirely from anything related to home before she settled in. But the rest haven't found it to be a problem.
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From:arhyalon
Date:September 17th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
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Thanks, by the way, for your thoughs on the matter!
[User Picture]
From:hannahsarah
Date:September 17th, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC)
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I would be SO scared to cut a kid off completely, but I totally understand it. I guess it depends on the child's and the parents' personalities, and how it's handled. Culture shock is one thing, but when you're trying to get someone to bond with you and they barely know you... wow. I'm so glad I'm not in that position, because I haven't got a clue what would be best.

Just pray for wisdom, I guess!
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:September 17th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)
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Interestingly, our best week since our daughter came (not that there have not been many other good ones) was the week at Chincoteague with no TV or computer. The kids read and played games. Ping-Ping finally read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, which I had bought for her in China (in Chinese). It was great fun.

Yesterday, I discovered she was reading Harry Potter. Unfortunately, they didn't have vol. one in China the day we were there, so she's got 2 and 3, I believe.
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