My parents are immigrants: Why do I feel caught between 2 cultures?

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Having immigrant parents often comes with the feeling of not fully belonging; of feeling like you’re different, no matter who you’re with. In this article, we explore the different ways this might make you feel.

If you, your parents, or your family immigrated to Quebec, you may have had to face differences between Quebec culture and the culture of your country of origin (or that of your parents and family). It’s not always easy to live with cultural differences! Here are some of the problems you might face and our tips on finding balance.


My parents are too strict

Some immigrant parents tend to be stricter and to demand obedience, whereas Quebec culture puts more emphasis on discussion and autonomy. So you may want to protest and express your opinion, which doesn’t go over well with your parents, who may think you’re casting doubt on their entire role as parents.


I’m caught between 2 cultures

Children often integrate into a new society more easily than their parents. So some parents may be afraid of seeing their kids move away from their values and thus be tempted to impose their own culture and vision. That can be hard for you to deal with, since you find yourself trapped between your parents’ cultural traditions and those of your new society, which you’re learning about at school and with your friends.


I don’t agree with some Quebec values

When we arrive in a new country, we may feel that there’s a huge gap between our values, attitudes, and beliefs and those of our host society. In Quebec, we promote autonomy, creativity, critical analysis, the individual (more than the group), equality, and liberty. Some immigrants may not know about or understand these values. For example, this might apply to the role and meaning of education, the conduct of romantic relationships, the roles of women and men, and openness to different sexual orientations, which may be surprising at first. Then, the shock may die down a bit. We observe and understand a bit better, and we develop our own view of things.


I have a double identity at school versus at home

If you feel caught between 2 cultures, you may be tempted to adopt a double identity. You don’t want to reject all the values of your original culture but you also don’t want to comply with your parents’ vision and obey them in everything, at the risk of forgetting who you really are. To cope with this problem, some kids adopt 2 personalities, one at home with their family and the other with their friends or at school… All they want is to make everyone happy.


Balance is possible!

To feel that you’re really yourself, you need to find a balance between your family’s values and those of your new environment. Choose values that are meaningful for you and build your own identity, both in your family and community and in Quebec society. Your parents are facing the same challenges: they’re redefining their identity and their parenting style. Gradually, they’ll adapt and change too. If you need to talk about this, text or call us!