Written by CAPA-JRC reporter Justin Jiang
Recently, the Chinese American Museum in Washington, DC, hosted a writing competition called “Dear Mom, Dear Dad” on intergenerational communication within the Asian-American community. Competitors were to write a letter to their parents, highlighting the struggles they faced related to intergenerational communication. On March 27, 2023, the museum hosted a roundtable discussion allowing the competition winners to share their ideas and answer questions. The first-place winner was Scarlet Jacobson, the second-place winners were Nicole Wang and Andrea Zhang, and the third-place winners were Eileen Jiang, Emily Chin, and Yuan Cheng.
After introductions, the winners at the roundtable were all asked the same question: if you spoke to your parents while or after you wrote the letter, what did they say?
The writers’ answers varied as to whether or not they spoke to their parents about the competition; however, most of them had the central idea of trying to tell their parents about how they felt. Whether they were not being understood or had trouble communicating, they all wanted their parents to know how they felt and to change their actions.
Next, the hosts asked each of the winners individualized questions based on their essays. Each of their responses highlighted the differences in expectations between generations and the problem of not understanding each other. Some parents might want their child to focus on studying more often while the child wants to hang out with friends or play their favorite video game. Children and parents often have different expectations because they grew up in different societies and cultures. One participant said his parents “didn’t understand what being American, what being in a different culture, growing up into the culture was like.” Another participant felt that his parents “couldn’t understand who [he was].”
However, there are ways to improve intergenerational communication. As one writer said, “Communication and compromise and just respect are key to building and maintaining a harmonious relationship with our parents.” This shows how crucial intergenerational communication is within the Asian-American community.
The writing competition helped many Asian Americans better understand their parents and themselves. Though communicating with and understanding their parents was a challenging task, writing the letters strengthened the bonds between children and parents with relationships that previously may have been unstable or confusing.
This article was provided by Chinese American Parents Association Junior Reporter Club (CAPA JRC) with members who interviewed, audio recorded, wrote, translated, and video recorded. CAPA JRC has 25 Montgomery County middle to high school students. They have created a bilingual platform delivering news and serving the community. Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA0gylW1ZCcgDvDiLAyObbA Instagram: @capa_jrc Blog: https://capajrc.org