Cultural differences are clearly something that we wrestle with more than ever in society, church and even homelife. Things are not simply black and white. Those who live in the margins know that very well.
djchuang recently highlighted two articles from the gospel herald about Dr. Peter Lam (director of Asian Family Today and father of two second gen children) on improving the communication between Chinese parents and their ABC (or not) children. lam points out the obvious problems or methods employed (to those of us who are ABC) – rebuking, punishment, guilt – and he offers simple advice to parents – encouragement is key – and other biblical sounding counsel.
i also enjoyed this thoughtful post from Nikki Toyama co-contributor of more than serving tea, about boundaries, enmeshment and justice. she poses some great questions that i wrestle over with my non-asian wife. how do you manage boundaries on the mission field, in doing mercy and justicework? do you?
I’m beginning to wonder if boundaries are the luxury of the middle class. Is there such thing as boundaries when you’re doing justice work?
I’ve wondered about boundaries, Asian American families, and Christian discipleship. What therapists call “enmeshment” is a common occurrance in Asian American families. Is it an issue that we need to fight against in the Asian community. Or is family therapy culturally bound.
What some might called “enmeshed” has great characteristics. There’s a wonderful sense of involving everyone, and a corporate identity that is a healthy antidote to a narcissitic individualized model. But it has its problems too.
From my limited vantage point, it comes across as parents who are very upset at a young person’s decision. A lot of emotional pressure lands on the young person to comply to their wishes. I’ve heard extreme cases of threatening suicide unless a young person changes their plans. More common examples are sleepless nights, extreme anxiety, etc. Are the young people just clueless and self-absorbed? Or is the older generation enmeshed? Both?
Is this just how things get done in Asian American households? What’s the Christian response?
What’s cultural? What’s Christian? What’s do we embrace and what do we work against?
Back in 2003, the BBC had featured the cultural clash in The Asian Family.
Listen to their program here.