Recommended ReadsJuly 20th, 2021

Navigating relationships with your parents as an adult

A photo of Farhana working from home. There's a book shelf and plants in the background.
Farhana Ismail , Associate Design Researcher

As I grow older, my relationship with my parents has grown and evolved. At some point, they became more than just ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’ and I realised they have real names and stories. This has shifted the dynamic between us.

With immigrant parents, there are nuances to that dynamic. They grew up with a different culture and set of values than I have. This extends to the way they express their emotions, how they choose to act, and their beliefs around how society should look.

For many immigrant children, including me, there is a lot of self-reflection to do when growing up between two cultures. What are my values? Which beliefs serve me? Which don’t? A big part of answering these questions is learning more about my background, and unlocking that sense of intergenerational strength and cultural identity.

Rather than focusing on the friction between the two generations and cultures, I’ve found curiosity to be the most helpful approach. Joseph Lam, an Asian-American entrepreneur, wrote.

“I started asking them questions about their childhood, what their favorite food was growing up, what their favorite memories and proudest moments are, as well as their fears and regrets. I became genuinely interested in who they were as people and the stories they have.”

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