Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

International Parents Have High Expectations

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have grown up with international parents. My mother is Scottish, and my father is Australian. They both grew up overseas, and their first time living in the United States was when we moved here in 2002. Growing up in New York with parents who were not American allowed me to learn so much about different cultures. There were also amazing perks, such as traveling to visit family in the United Kingdom and Australia during the holidays.

Although this was amazing growing up, there were also things that my parents didn’t understand, such as the American college system. I struggled explaining to them small things such as the application process and sororities, and I also find it hard to meet their high expectations of what I should be doing with my life. How do you suggest I talk to them about the fact that there is a difference between growing up in the U.S and other places? -- Between Two Worlds, New Orleans

DEAR BETWEEN TWO WORLDS: Your parents know that the experiences they provided for you early on are unique to your family, but you may want to remind them as you also tell them that now you are creating your own experiences. Because you have chosen to go to school in America and have been learning the culture for many years now, you feel more American than not. Tell them that you know your duty is to be an excellent student, and you also have the responsibility of figuring out how to live your life. As you are growing and developing, you have to learn how to navigate in the world on your own. Tell them how much you appreciate all that they have done and are continuing to do for you. Ask them to allow you the space to figure some things out on your own as well.

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