Children Born to Immigrants

Children born to immigrants

I think children born to immigrants seem to have a different relationship with their parents than those whose parents were born in the same region as they were. Once, while trying to explain my reasons for hiding my tattoos, sexuality, and depression from my parents (easier said than done, let me tell you) to a close friend, she asked me something I had genuinely never considered before: “Why do you care so much what they think of you?” Traditional filial devotion and universal desire for validation aside, I had no reason to. What was keeping me from letting my guard down with the people who raised and nurtured me?

Well, primarily, the fact that my relationship with my parents is distinctly immigrant. My mother is Taiwanese and my father is Turkish, and their parenting style is infinitely more reserved than most American parents’. My mom is not my best friend (something I catch myself yearning for when my white American friends claim the opposite), she is my mom. Much like how non-practicing Catholics cannot shake “Catholic guilt,” the children of immigrants, particularly ones from multiracial households, cannot shake the all-consuming guilt of disappointing one’s parents.

I propose a feature that addresses the disconnect between multiracial people and their monoracial, immigrant parents. Children born to immigrants often grow up with stories of how their parents overcame immense obstacles to move to the U.S. and succeed, and often internalize the pressure to carry on that noble legacy. It’s a nice thought, but it fosters an intense fear of failure and of deviating from a parent’s socially conservative expectations.

I have written about multiracial experiences in the past, and samples of my writing can be found in my e-portfolio, ilaydaorankoy.weebly.com.

Thank you.

My name is Ilayda Jinjee Orankoy, and I am currently a junior at Penn State majoring in Digital & Print Journalism and Gender & Sexuality Studies. I’m a first generation American born to a Taiwanese mother and a Turkish father, and I hope to use my writing to highlight the nuances of navigating multiracial spaces.

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Published on: March 4, 2017

Filed Under: Articles, Essays & Poems, Non-Fiction/Memoir

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