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Growing Up in Two Cultures

  • Updated July 25, 2023
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Growing up, I was one of the fakest little kids you would ever meet. Don’t get me wrong, I was a happy child with lots of friends and a normal childhood, but it was how I presented myself to certain friends that was “fake”. Looking back on those pivotal years of development, I noticed that I seemed to have two different identities. At home or even with family members Spanish was the language we spoke, and I even recall being told repeatedly how to act around them. “Párate bien, y actua como todo un hombresito!”, my mom would drill into me. Contrastingly, at school I remember being afraid to speak Spanish. I acted how a typical young boy would act, knowing if I acted like that at home I would be punished.

A person’s identity can be shaped by a variety of things such as their family, culture, friends, personal interests and surrounding environment. It’s different for each individual because some factors may have more of an influence than others and some may not have any influence at all. However, with this being said I believe that the most influential aspect in shaping one’s personal identity would probably have to be culture. The lessons, values, beliefs, and practices that make up a certain group shape all of us individually, but what happens when you are part of two groups? Being part of two cultures with varying values and beliefs, having to jump from one to another, can have a significant impact on ones personal identity. Do they pick one culture? Do they compromise and identify with both?

Each culture has their own unique set of knowledge that is passed down from generation to generation, in the hopes that they continue their legacy. I personally grew up around values and lessons from the American and Mexican culture simultaneously. A lot of these values I picked up growing up conflicted with each other, but there were some that were the same. The United States is know as a “melting pot” of cultures with each and every culture contributing in their own way. As a result, they have a very individualistic way of thinking with a lot of their values being very fluid and giving the individual the power to to define their life. In the Mexican culture, they have a different way of thinking on their values and lessons. The lessons that are taught in the Mexican culture are rigid and set in stone, there is no arguing with them. They are a very traditional people.

One of my earliest memories growing up is being taught how to “be a man” by my father, and being punished if I strayed from what he expected of me. This concept of machismo has been ingrained in me, expected to have a strong sense of masculine pride and being self-reliant with the responsibility of taking care and protecting my family. In the short story titled “Boy” by Bret Anthony Johnston, the narrator is giving his son what seems like an overwhelming amount of lessons on how to be a man. At one point he tells his son to, “open doors for women and pay them compliments as they pass (and) make eye contact like a man and not like the coward you’re so bent on becoming” (Johnston). I hear my own father in this quote, shaping me into the man I am supposed to be. However, this concept of masculinity isn’t only in the Mexican culture, it is shared in both. In the American culture there is also a sense of the men needing to be strong, courageous, independent, violent when they need to, and assertive. Having this idea of masculinity being taught in both cultures enforced it even more in my sense of who I was, but there are certain values that are drastically different in both.

One of the most prominent differences I witnessed growing up between my two cultures is the importance of family. In the American culture the importance of an individual’s profession is high, often times more than the importance of their family. In the 21st century both the men and the women have a professional life and the women in the family work both, inside and outside the home. Their kids are brought up to be a lot more independent, and have little guidance from parents. Then as their children grow up parents expect them to set up their independent households once they start earning on their own. Seeing their family is an every once in a while thing because they only see them during the holidays. When I found this out while growing up I just couldn’t believe it, I thought my peers just didn’t love their family. I only thought this because in the Mexican culture family comes first, always. I grew up with my father working to earn money, and my mother taking care of the domestic chores and us. The children are brought up with a lot of guidance from the parents, because it is thought that they will grow up to be unsuccessful if they do not.

References

Cite this paper

Growing Up in Two Cultures. (2021, Oct 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/growing-up-in-two-cultures/

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