Discarding Culture

I’m in favor of people immigrating who are perfectly happy with their children rejecting the parents’ culture (or cultivating it privately). I’m in favor of adults who can accept the idea that their children born in the new country will be more like the children in the new country and will be free to reject most or all of the parent’s world view and culture (including religion).

God, that’s the whole point for me. I want my kid to have a typical American childhood. I want her to be like the happy American kids and not like the deeply messed up kids where I come from. I don’t want her to carry the burden of 70 years of totalitarianism and a whole lot of bad shit before and after.

I have no idea why some nations manage to create a life that produces happy children while others can’t. But I want to be in the place that does, and this is the only one of them that would have me. Besides Canada, of course, but I don’t like Canada as much.

I don’t want to introduce Klara to the books and cartoons I enjoyed when I was a kid. N and I recently conducted a comparison between our most famous kids’ authors and Dr Seuss, and Dr Seuss won hands down.

If I were so into my culture and thought it was great, why would I ever leave?

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43 thoughts on “Discarding Culture”

  1. I’ve seen this issue with Indian neighbors in the past. The children grew to maturity in American schools, and the parents tried to impose arranged marriages. Let’s just say, there were problems. I’ve seen this currently with a Chinese student who attended prep school in the US and is going to college now, and who doesn’t want to return to China even to visit. The parents are having angst over this.

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  2. Yeah, I saw examples of this several times in my military career. When I was stationed in Korea, I was friends with a young Korean military physician who introduced me to several “girlfriends,” only to tell me sadly in turn that “My father has forbidden me to marry her.” He finally presented “my future wife,” and told me after the wedding, “She isn’t as pretty or as much fun as the others, but she’s smart — my father made the right choice.”

    Back in the States, one of the officers under my command was a first-term, first-generation, First Lieutenant American-Chinese young woman who was overjoyed when she got promoted to Captain (the promotion was automatic at that rank unless you’d performed very badly), and she very much wanted a military career. But her Chinese-immigrant mother wanted her to leave the military and come back home to her family in San Francisco, and she obliged.

    Another officer was a middle-aged Indian physician who requested leave to go back to India to meet the arranged wife that his parents has selected for him, and he told me in a satisfied voice that they’d “saved him the trouble of looking for a suitable woman.” He invited me to the wedding, but I knew that the Air Force wouldn’t pay for the overseas flight, so I politely declined.

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  3. I am also in favor of assimilation and I practice it with my kids — they all speak only English, we never visit my ancestral home etc. I think this is the right choice for them, they feel 100% American and they grow up just like their American peers. However, I always get a ton of grief from fellow parents for not having raised my kids bilingual (that’s exceedingly hard unless there’s a big community that speaks the language) and the progressives insist that I am a traitor because cultural heritage is paramount (I personally don’t give a $hit; other than some cuisine and cultivating a good taste in bread and chocolate, my kids don’t have to know anything about the culture I grew up in). What I want to tell those who would rather people didn’t assimilate is that under their concern for cultural-heritage preservation is snobbery, sentencing immigrants to ghettoization.

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    1. @xykademiqz:
      The reasons you are stating are precisely why the Austrian Cultural Society ( not the groups’s official name) that I joined when I moved into the Phoenix metropolitan area twenty years ago is slowly dying from advancing age and attrition. Its core membership consists of first-generation immigrants from Germany and Austria arriving in the years following WWII. The immigrants either came to America alone and married American spouses, or came as a couple, and feel a strong attachment to the old country. (As a 100% American, I joined purely because I wanted to maintain fluency in German, and enjoy the monthly potlucks and fellowship.)

      By now, all the immigrant members are parents of adult children and adolescent grandchildren born in the U.S.A., and guess what? None of these children feel any connection to Europe at all. They all, to their parents’ dismay, simply consider themselves “Americans” with no attached hyphen, speak no German, and have zero interest in keeping the Cultural Society going.

      Occasionally, new young Austrian/ German couples arriving as temporary legal immigrants join the Society, but they never stay long, either because their visas run out, or they don’t enjoy the company of old fogies like us (and who can blame them?). The Society will probably survive about as long a I do, another couple or maybe even three decades, and then will dissipate into the night as newer equally transient immigrant societies take its place.

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      1. Children of immigrants always do everything to avoid being associated with the parents’ culture. Only the ones I’m extremely oppressive families don’t. There is a chance grandchildren or great grandchildren will develop some interest but as a cultural curiosity only.

        People who like their culture and want to pass it on shouldn’t emigrate.

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        1. We are a big fan of assimilation as well. We have never tried to teach our kids the language or culture, although we do visit the home country every couple of years for two weeks. Our kids are also somewhat lukewarm; every so often, one of them would want to know something about the language, or the cuisine. We tell them enough to satisfy their curiosity but that’s it.

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          1. I’ve seen so many parents in my immigrant community who go to truly heroic lengths to pass on their culture and it’s always a major waste of time. It simply doesn’t work.

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  4. In terms of language, it mostly doesn’t matter much what language immigrant parents speak to their kids, the language of the playground will triumph over it every single time.

    If might make parents feel better to use the language they used in their old country (or the new country) but it’s mostly irrelevant. What matters is who the kids are socialized with because that’s the group they’ll belong to.

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  5. God, that’s the whole point for me. I want my kid to have a typical American childhood. I want her to be like the happy American kids and not like the deeply messed up kids where I come from. I don’t want her to carry the burden of 70 years of totalitarianism and a whole lot of bad shit before and after.

    Typical American kids aren’t fluid and don’t have fluid ancestors and relatives scattered all over the world. Because you and N did a lot of work on yourselves (by your account) before you had kids I don’t think she’ll carry that particular burden you fear. I don’t think it’s a matter of her looking at your childhood books and cartoons.

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    1. It’s because you haven’t seen our books and cartoons. 🙂 They can traumatize the healthiest of kids. Even in nursery rhymes, everything goes wrong for no reason and never gets better. (These are Soviet era ones.)

      Also, we don’t have scattered relatives. Neither N nor I are in touch with a single person in Ukraine or Russia.

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      1. ” our books and cartoons. 🙂 They can traumatize the healthiest of kids”

        The only one I can think of off the top of my head is “Nu pogodi” which isn’t much if any worse than a western cartoon dedicated to a predator failing to catch its prey (Roadrunner and Coyote is the most famous American one).

        Okay the wolf is pretty disgusting in that one…
        Did they show other Iron Curtain country cartoons? Some of the Polish and Czech ones are actually very… heartwarming (there’s a Polish one with stop motion little animals in the woods that’s too cute for words).
        I really like the Czech Krtek (Little Mole) and the Polish “Pomysłowy Dobromir” (Inventive Dobromir)

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        1. Somebody threw my teddy bear on the ground and tore away a paw. But I won’t abandon him anyway because he’s nice. The end.

          That’s a famous nursery rhyme written in the 1960s, I guess.

          There is a Llama Llama story where a toy’s paw is ripped off. But in the American story, mommy sews it back on and it’s good as new.

          I still feel sad over that stupid Soviet teddy bear. And they are all like this. Something bad happens. The end.

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          1. “I still feel sad over that stupid Soviet teddy bear”

            I take your point about the overall different tenor of American and Soviet children’s entertainment but I remember seeing the Disney cartoon “The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met” as a child and being completely traumatized…

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Make_Mine_Music#Finale:_The_Whale_Who_Wanted_to_Sing_at_the_Met

            And it’s on youtube! (I’ll just go to room and cry for a while now…)

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            1. Our Tania is crying bitterly because she dropped her ball in the river. Quiet, Tanechka, don’t cry. Balls dont drown in water. The end.

              It’s like what kind of a freak tells that to a kid? Tanechka is a toddler. She doesn’t care about scientific properties of rubber. She wants to play with her ball!

              Sorry, it still bugs me decades later.

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              1. “Our Tania is crying bitterly because she dropped her ball in the river”

                “Dont’ cry Tania, the valiant bauxite miners in Kazakhstan have exceeded their monthly quota by 26% Soon the Soviet Union will be completely self-sufficient in Bauxite!”

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  6. What do you think of this?

    “Starting at the age of 1, “ghetto children” must be separated from their families for at least 25 hours a week, not including nap time, for mandatory instruction in “Danish values,” including the traditions of Christmas and Easter, and Danish language. Noncompliance could result in a stoppage of welfare payments. Other Danish citizens are free to choose whether to enroll children in preschool up to the age of six.

    Denmark’s government is introducing a new set of laws to regulate life in 25 low-income and heavily Muslim enclaves, saying that if families there do not willingly merge into the country’s mainstream, they should be compelled.”

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    1. I’m trying not to laugh because it’s not supposed to be funny. It’s one of those things that are so horrid they become comical. Is it a real thing or a project?

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      1. This is the NYT so they’re trying to make it look like religious persecution. It’s an awkward response to mostly welfare-dependent non-Danish underclass parents (who, as in other European countries, are mostly muslim) who do everything they can to keep their children from assimilating to Danish culture (the childcare institutions are used by over 90% of the population).

        it’s mostly the non-Danish welfare-dependent underclass that doesn’t use them, this is an unsubtle attempt to give the kids a chance at joining the mainstream that they currently don’t have (mostly because their parents don’t want them to).

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      2. I was just about to post this link here but Stringer beat me to the punch. Denmark is doing exactly the right thing. Kudos to them. I wish UK and France would follow suit!

        The next time someone tells me that the NYT is unbiased, I will point them to this article. By the same logic, the US government also forcibly separates every 5 year old to 18 year old from their families for 25 hours a week for mandatory instruction! And this instruction is carried out in English too. Imagine that!

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        1. Age 5 and age 1 are completely different age groups with a completely different psychological makeup. Before the age of 3, the only thing a child will participate in enthusiastically and enjoy is something that mommy is sincerely enthusiastic about and sincerely believes is a good thing. If mommy is miserable about this project, if she is not into the separation sincerely, the only result will be a deeply miserable, resentful kid.

          By the age of 5-6, the first major separation has begun and the child is not so dependent on mommy’s mental states.

          Thus, the only way to make this plan work and not backfire in horrible way is to convince the mommies to be sincerely, enthusiastically into this project.

          It always has to begin with adults. Always. And by the way, homeschooling has not been outlawed in the US, so nobody is forced to send kids to school at five if they really don’t want to.

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          1. “Thus, the only way to make this plan work and not backfire in horrible way is to convince the mommies to be sincerely, enthusiastically into this project.”

            And the only way to do that is to make into a segregation project (completely compliant with the mommies’ religion) rather than integration project.

            So Denmark is stuck with an unassimilatible minority… yay?

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            1. Welfare payments for childbearing should end. Any form of UBI should be avoided because it swells up the ghettos. Welfare support should be in the form of maternity leave and free or heavily subsidized childcare. Making stewing in the ghettos unprofitable is the only real way now that ghettos have already been created.

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              1. Take Canada, for instance. Instead of cash payments for child-bearing, why not address the situation with the shameful shortage of subsidized daycare?

                Right now in Montreal there is a plan to close downtown to traffic other than trucks. This will be a disaster for working mothers. But there are cash payments for procreation in the ghettos galore. It’s like they are trying on purpose to make sure that immigrant mothers never integrate because it’s more profitable to be a baby factory.

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              2. “Making stewing in the ghettos unprofitable”

                Well that’s one idea behind the Danish project (as unrefined as it is). It only applies to those in ghettos who are on welfare. Get off welfare and the parents can continue to devote considerable time and effort in segregating their children and preventing their success in Danish society…
                I also suspect it’s a way of soft ethnic cleansing – convincing those who cannot bring themselves to let their children assimilate that maybe they might want to return whence they came (or find a bigger sucker to become their new welfare sugar daddy…. like Sweden)

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  7. “If I were so into my culture and thought it was great, why would I ever leave?”

    You’re assuming that culture is the only factor in consideration when people decide to leave or stay. People may love their culture and yet immigrate for, say, economic reasons. I can give you the example of India. I think its culture has demonstrably gone down in the recent years, as exemplified by its ruling quasi-fascist party. Yet, there’s been a decrease in Indians coming to the US because now there’s a booming tech sector, and the emergence of entrepreneurial ‘start-up culture’. If there was ever a time to get the fuck out of the country, it would be now. Yet, the people who’re most equipped to leave (and would earn very decent salaries here too) are increasingly choosing to stay back.

    The sad part is that people for the most part don’t give importance to the same things that you (and I) do. Like, I wouldn’t work in Saudi Arabia for any amount of money. I couldn’t say the same for many people I know.

    “I left my country because I didn’t like their freedom of speech laws’ is not a common reason for immigration.

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    1. Of course, the situation where people are escaping from a civil war, horrible gang violence or starvation is completely different. I obviously don’t judge such people. But I do judge those who have a very good life and leave simply because they think they will have a bigger house or more cars after emigration. This is about 99% of immigrants in my immigrant community. Everybody who leaves is very financially comfortable at home. But they leave without any knowledge or interest in the new culture. And they are SO miserable as a result. It’s sad to watch. They do get their extra car and a bigger house as a result but at the enormous price of living in a culture they don’t get and honestly despise.

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      1. Ok, here’s where some of your positions are in tension. You’ve repeatedly advocated for a ‘merit-based’ immigration system like they have in Canada. So, in effect your fundamental criterion for determining who gets to come in seems to be economic productivity.

        Yet, you despise those immigrants who’d want to come to the country to reap the rewards of their productivity.

        ‘I want people who will make our country prosperous, but I don’t like people who are motivated to be prosperous’ seems inconsistent to me. Am I missing something?

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        1. The profession was only one of the criteria in the Canadian system, though. And it was outweighed cumulatively by the rest of criteria. I’m not in the least opposed to excluding the profession from the criteria altogether. If instead of the profession we put the criterion of the danger one experiences at home or language or relatives in the US, that’s perfectly fine with me. What I detest is the confusion and the constantly changing rules that seem designed to lure people to cross the continent only to get stuck on the border or in illegality. That is the part I absolutely detest. Let’s just decide what the goal is and proceed to fulfill it with clear permanent steps. But let’s just stop jerking people around by false hopes.

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  8. Denmark always creeped me out with its penchant for uniformity. I like variety and mixture and was always more comfortable in the Western hemisphere for that reason. DK has a state religion, too, which I am against because I am post-18th century, raised with the idea that the separation of church and state is a good thing. I also don’t seem to run into as many immigrants who aren’t interested in the place they’ve come to. And a lot of people who are in fact interested in maintaining some kind of bicultural identity/skills.

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    1. Do you remember the story about my parents I told you in FL? It’s the same for everybody I know in my immigrant community. Everybody. It’s so sad.

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      1. Yes, I was thinking about this. They were not actually interested in living in a different place. I have colleagues like this, academic jobs not available in Spain so they are here, but don’t speak English and don’t go anywhere outside work, just watch satellite tv.

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        1. Also the denizens of the Alliance Française are like this, high drama among them since they will only hang out with each other.

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        2. “They were not actually interested in living in a different place. …but don’t speak English and don’t go anywhere outside work, just watch satellite tv”

          There are “ex pat” communities like that in most large European cities. They do speak English as a first (or sometimes second) language and are utterly uninterested in learning anything about the country they’re in and devoted to keeping everything about it at arms length (though they might complain about limited job opportunities and unfriendly locals). Pre-internet they spent a lot of time socializing with each other. I’ve had a brush with them in Poland a time or two and stay very far away from them…

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    2. In Denmark and Belgium, big cities have become unlivable for women. Unlivable. In London there are areas where it’s very uncomfortable for women.

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        1. \ I wonder if being from US means I don’t expect high safety levels…

          No.

          I am from Israel and also expect them. They are a sign of normally functioning, civilized society / country.

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          1. It’s not about safety per se. It’s about being treated like a peace of trash by disgusting, ogling, swinish and entitled men and with extreme hatred by their enslaved women.

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  9. What an interesting topic…
    We in particular have done nothing to deliberately prevent the americanization of our daughter, but we also did not go to any significant lengths to keep her from her heritage. We had friends from our own country and from Russia and we did talk with them in respective languages in our daughter’s presence. We were selective about who our friends were, but for our own sake, not specifically for the sake of our daughter’s assimilation. And we had friends from elsewhere with whom we communicated in English.
    Let’s me describe a couple of situations that may happen to you, Clarissa, down the road, given where you live… May be worth thinking about how you may react….
    Our daughter is blond and blue-eyed and acquired accent-free English very quickly. And a Polish-sounding name is not that out of place in the Midwest. So she was, by default, perceived as “one of us” by the American kids at her elementary school. And then it turned out that she does not go to a Bible school, or to church, and does not even identify as a Christian… simply does not have this in her system. There were some kids that were disturbed enough by that to tell some nasty things to our daughter. Now a million-dollar question is – should we have gone as far as finding religion in order to provide our daughter as optimal assimilation experience as possible and spare her from this particular trauma?
    Now consider teenage years. Quite a lot of kids are searching for something at that time… some go to great lengths finding their estranges fathers,or other relatives, some go look for their heritage. Now, our daughter was not under any pressure from us in this department either way, so there were no grounds for protest. She made some amazing and amusing synthesis of several different cultures and incorporated it into her art. But if it were an issue to protest about, if she perceived us as particularly pro-americanization and anti-homeland-culture… what if she became a Russian imperialist? And I am only half-joking… But jokes aside – are you prepared to the possibility that Klara may at some point want to explore her heritage?

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    1. If you are not religious, you definitely shouldn’t have faked it. And I’m not going to fake love for junk food or pizza. I already had trouble explaining to Klara who a pizza man is because I’ve never met one. 🙂

      We are not concealing that we are Russian-speakers. I only have one Russian-speaking friend to show Klara. N has none. I tried hanging out with other Russian-speaking people in town but it was a disaster. I don’t know if you’ve seen my Basia posts but I doubt you’d like these folks either. And by the way, you never came to visit when you were in IL, thereby depriving us of the opportunity to show Klara a non-appalling Russian-speaker. 🙂

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      1. But I wrote you a couple of times while I was in IL and you did not respond… Maybe it went to the junkmail folder…

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        1. Really??? That really stinks! I’m so sorry, I swear I didn’t get the emails. Shit, I would have loved for you to visit.

          I’ll be in Montreal in October, by the way.

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