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Generational Gap & Parenting in Asian American Family Spotlights of MESA Conference

Generational gap and parenting in Asian American family will be the focus of an upcoming conference organized by a prominent California-based evangelical Christian ministries.
( [email protected] ) Feb 05, 2006 05:56 PM EST

Generational gap and parenting in Asian American family will be the focus of an upcoming conference organized by a prominent California-based evangelical Christian ministries.

Due to the great cultural difference between Asia and America, many of the Asian American families in the U.S. generally experience problems in terms of relationships- whether it is between husband and wife or parent and children- in a certain extent. However, this challenge could not be fully addressed neither only from the viewpoint of an American nor only from the viewpoint of an Asian.

Ministries for English Speaking Asians (MESA) is therefore holding the "Asian American Family Conference," which is expected to draw some 150 Asian Americans mainly from Chinese churches in Bay Area to Redwood Chapel, Castro Valley, on Saturday, Feb. 11. Most of the participants are Asian American couples with a wide range of ethnicity, age and background.

The founder and director of MESA, Rev. Louis Lee, explained the importance of the Conference, "Although there are a lot of marriage conferences for Christians, most of them are primarily run by American Caucasians. Some of the cultural issues among Asian Americans are a little bit different.

Many Asian American families are dealing with the different generations- perhaps their parents are immigrants and their children are very Americanized- these cultural differences lead to a lot of tensions within the family. For the American Caucasians’ family conferences will never address these specific issues, my ministries really focus on the need of English-speaking Asian churches and Christians."

Generational gap between parents who are Chinese immigrants and the American-born second generations is usually identified as the hottest issue. The Chinese culture is characterized by its emphasis on cooperation within the family whereas the American culture tends to respect each person as an individual more than Chinese, Lee sharply pointed out the so-called "gap".

While this seems to be a helpless reality, Lee suggested that the answer is in the Bible, "In the bible, it’s clear that God concerns about both, cooperate and individual, and so it’s not good to just follow one culture to the other. Chinese culture is very different from American one, but if you go to the Bible, then you can find principles that apply to both."

Rather than just following their own cultures, Lee said both Chinese Christians and Caucasian Christians need to learn how the Bible addresses family issues.

Some Chinese parents have made mistakes in parenting while they are unaware of the generational gap and have been trying to follow their own culture only. One of the very typical examples would be the extreme emphasis on academics of Chinese parents for their children.

"There are a lot of pressures on the kids. Sometimes, their [parents] expectation is a standard that go beyond what the children really capable of," Lee said.

"If you tell them to study two hours a day and then maybe they get straight ‘A’s, but they stop to develop socially, emotionally, relationally, and all other areas of life," he pointed out. "The children can be very good in terms of academics but they are not developing in all the other areas of life that God considers to be important."

The Conference aims to address all these issues among Asian Americans more openly as the true crisis is emerging because of negligence. Lee said that there are problems in every family and every marriage, but Chinese churches tend not to address the real problems because they feel very embarrassing.

Lee commented that the problems really get "worse and worse." And in extreme cases, divorce and child abuse could be resulted. Suicide may have become the ultimate crisis, he warned.

Lee will be speaking on one of the eleven workshops to help parents prepare their kids to be the best students in a Christian perspective, rather than just in terms of getting good grades. In his opinion, it is not only important to develop academic achievement but also characters.

The main speaker of the conference is Pastor Cory Ishida, the founder and senior pastor of the Evergreen Baptist Church in San Gabriel Valley, California.

MESA’ s last "Asian American Family Conference" was held three and half years ago with 150-200 participants. This time, the Conference is supported by various prominent partner organizations such as Asian American Center, American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW), the San Francisco-based Christian Psychotherapy Services, Navigators Asian American Ministries and others. They contribute to the Conference in terms of prayers, promotion and finances.

Please visit the MESA official website for registration and further details: http://www.mesanetwork.org/.