Our last blog article talked about how Yanzie, a typical good American-Born Chinese girl, dealt with parents’ expectations, identity issues as an ABC, together with all the other challenges in her high school years. In the second part of the interview, Yanzie shares about the changes she experienced in her college years, the transformation of her relationship with her parents, and how faith carried her through growing pains and difficulties. With understanding and acceptance, she believes there can always be warmth and harmony within the family.
Parents often like to motivate their children to achieve and excel. Yet Yanzie emphasized that the best individuals to motivate children are the children themselves. Some of the young people know nothing about what they want to do before college. Others may have found their passion and direction in high school already. While parents may only see their child from one angle, they may not fully understand who their child really is and how he or she behaves and interacts with people at school. Sometimes the children may have a lot more strengths than the parents thought.
Yanzie thought she was one of the best examples. Being a good girl when she was young, she always had the desire to please her parents; partly to respond to their love, and partly due to her strong sense of responsibility and her readiness to step up for others’ needs. However, she eventually chose her own path and started working in an organization for civil rights in order to care for the low-income Asian and African American groups. This was far from the expectation of her parents who had really wished for her to go to medical school. Yanzie recalled that the biggest fight she had with her parents happened when she did not want to apply for those prestigious schools after visiting Boston. Her parents were very disappointed. Yanzie and her parents did not talk to one another for quite some time. Her parents eventually gave in and compromised. This is what she meant by the power of self-motivation. When she found her real passion, she would be very determined to go that route and no one could ever convince her to change. That was how she dealt with her own career direction.
But Yanzie believed her “real” rebellious stage did not start until her sophomore year in college. She was somehow very confused not knowing what she really wanted. Oftentimes she liked to question her parents and yet she longed to understand more about their background. Finally, Yanzie’s parents gave in to her dream. Yanzie also started to better understand her parents and why their thinking or perspective was so different from hers. When she looked back, she really treasured those days when they could openly and sincerely communicate. Their hearts were actually getting closer because of that.
Raised in a Christian family, Yanzie had attended church since childhood. Yet, she did not become a true Christian until her college years. When she studied the Bible, faith started to impact her life. She believed that faith became the biggest strength in her life. Jesus is the only unchanging hope in this ever changing world. Jesus showed her who she really was, taught her how to care, how to be patient, and how to support disadvantaged groups. Even when it came to her major and career choices, Jesus’ teachings and values played a very important role.
Lastly, Yanzie would like to encourage parents: whether their children succeed is not their responsibility. They should not take it personally and be hard on themselves. The reality is that all they can do is love and accept their children the way they are, and encourage them to pursue their own dreams. The most important thing is for parents to be open to sharing their own stories with their children, so the children may know that their parents are ordinary people who have their own limitations. Yanzie also reminded young people to understand the love of their parents. They are not trying to obstruct their children’s lives, but may just be overly concerned sometimes. Yanzie would also like to encourage young people to communicate with their parents as much as possible, even if they are reluctant. In fact, this is easier and more enjoyable than one can imagine.
From Yanzie’s sharing, we see the challenges and struggles of a young woman who came from an apparently happy Chinese family. As an American-Born Chinese, she found it hard to search for her own identity. With the love from her parents (though not without limitations) and the strength gained from her faith, she was able to see herself grow out of her struggles and let her life be transformed. May parents not only love their children, but also learn how to let them go, to believe in their children and let them fly in their own sky.