Multicultural Paper

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Acculturation v. Tradition in Chinese-American Families

This paper will face the numerous generations of Chinese-American families in order to distinguish whether traditional values, rather than acculturation of the family to American culture, benefit the individual’s emotional health, self esteem, and overall success. It will study the insight of paternal and maternal parents, along with children in daughter and son point of view. Hopefully, this paper will be able to discuss and determine that the best environment for Chinese-American families is by maintaining an equilibrium between acculturation and traditional Chinese fundamentals.

Multicultural psychology is the methodical study of all aspects of human behavior as it takes place in settings where people of different cultural backgrounds encounter each other. These aspects of human behavior consist of age, ethnicity, social class, and culture. Ethnicity is based on the identity or membership within a particular nation or cultural group and execution of that group's customs, beliefs, and language. Race is frequently incorrectly used in the place of ethnicity. Race defines a group of beings that interbreed to develop common physical characteristics, thus only a description based on appearance. Chinese immigration primarily began during the 18th century, but continue as current as the present day. Chinese-American families have thrived, contributing to the melting pot that America has come to be known as.

Most successful immigrations comprise of acculturation. Acculturation is the process of incorporating norms and values of the host civilization into the immigrant’s. First generation Chinese-Americans find acculturation more difficult than later generations, which cause a greater interference between the family and increase the level of stress than would be faced initially. Many Chinese customs adhere to strict yet simple rules of the family. The father being the ultimate say of the family, the mother being lesser than he. The first born taking priority, although a son in presence takes priority over daughters. Another tradition follows the eldest son resuming the family business, in other words continuing the family name and respect. A great double-standard exists for males and females in the Chinese culture. Women are seen unable to fulfill the duties of a man such as, college degrees, high executive careers, or just living without a male presence. Elderly respect is one of the most foremost important values. Self-sacrifice or needs are laid aside for the better of the family. Obeying and paying tribute to ancestors and grandparents yields a fruitful life in the aspect of family. Feminism has no literal translation in Chinese, because of the respect one has for the whole rule of living.

The first generation Chinese-Americans confront a much harder task living in an American culture. A culture of such freedom and liberation to express thoughts and feelings. Women’s rights of being the CEO’s and senators. Another difficult feat would be the racial prejudice and stereotypes that obstruct the American dream of equality. The thought of a person having lesser value because of their skin color or physical appearance is an unknown idea. Placing Chinese-Americans in one of the most neutral stances in aspect of human worthiness. Challenged by these first time experiences, first generations are more prone to depression and stress related disorders. Especially for children in these situations, bombarded by the American life one can be consumed with the materials and cause an internal strife with the Chinese family dynamics. According to J. Szapoeznik “Ethnic minority families face the added complexities of navigating challenges that arise from immigration, acculturation, and/or assimilation processes” (p. 676 Handbook of Multicultural Counseling). After dealing with these issues in the first generation, the...
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