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The generation gap between parents and their children seems to be getting bigger and bigger over the years. Generation gaps are the many years between one generation or many generations between age groups of people. Generation gaps are most often related to the culture of a family discussed between parents and their children. Parents become very worried about their children losing their culture when they enter into a new environment that is entirely different from their own. The new environment for their child could simply be a different country entirely different from the country their parents were born or raised in. In the case of Dympna Ugwu-Oju, a mother whom was born and raised with the Nigerian culture now faces the daunting reality that she may or may not have secured Ibo culture within her daughter Delia.
Ugwu-Oju mentions in her article that she is proud of her American born daughter for continuing her education in college. Ugwu-Oju reflects on her own experience of leaving Nigeria for the first time to attend college in New York. Ugwu-Oju reveals that she the pilgrimage to another country made her stronger as person. Internally, she felt that she maintained her sense of culture even though on the outside she may have followed the path of fulfilling the American dream of; becoming a professional, marrying someone who was her equal and being able to have the freedom to have children or not.
This differed greatly with the Ibo culture she was raised with. The negative aspects of Ugwu-Oju’s culture that she remembered vividly dictated that; child brides, female circumcisions, arranged marriages and a patriarchal system of marriage were the norm. There were also many positive aspects of Ugwu’s culture that she enjoyed that she wished she shared more with her daughter Delia. As mentioned earlier Ugwu-Oju worries that when Delia returns from school Delia would have only completely absorbed American culture and lose what little Ibo culture she had already. In comparison to my own life, my mom also worried about my siblings and I losing our sense of black southern American culture.
My mom was born and raised in Florence, Carolina and moved to Boston, Massachusetts as a teenager to attend high school. During that time the entire matriarchal side of my family slowly migrated for the first time in years out of their comfort zone to the rustle and bustle of New England. From what my mom has told me over the years she could not tolerate the weather, or the rudeness of the city dwellers. People couldn’t understand her southern accent very well, so they often rudely suggested she get rid of it. She ignored their suggestions, feeling that once she did lose her accent a large part of her culture would vanish.
My mom was also fearful of race riots that went along with the MBTA busing system. Since she moved to Boston around the early 1980s she missed a bit of the school busing horrors of the 1960s-1970s, and only heard stories from schoolmates. While South Carolina did have segregation from the time my mom was a little girl, she was shielded from it frequently. She also did not witness violent acts of racism while there as she now did in Boston, thoughts that still terrifies her till this day.
A few things people did enjoy about my mom and our newly moved in family was the southern comfort attitude within the culture. This southern comfort attitude revolved around making guests, whether family member or not, feel welcomed and comfortable. This may have involved authentic politeness, hilarious storytelling, cooking large mounds of delicious food with sweet tea on the side and a “please come back again” farewell. Moreover, my mom has often expressed that my siblings and I were so completely from her because of not being raised in the south. In particular, a lot of her superstitious and sometimes sexist attitudes she was raised with were immediately thought of as archaic by a few of my siblings and I.
Also, oftentimes when my mom describes certain things using lingo that only people from the south would understand, but we never really heard growing up. In the end we became confused while she becomes frustrated at not being properly understood. However, a genuine sense of manners and morality were learned by all of us successfully. I have often caught my mom bragging about my siblings and I to other people about how proud she is of all of us. Undoubtedly, Dympna Ugwu-Oju’s story of being worried about not instilling enough of her Ibo culture to her daughter Delia is both similar and different to my mom’s story.
There are similarities and differences to Dympna Ugwu-Oju’s article and my own life regarding a parent passing down their culture to the next generation or their children. One similarity between Ugwu-Oju’s story and my own is that both she and my mom are mothers. This similarity can suggest the idea that mothers often take on the task of nurturing a specific aspect of their personality in regards to culture. One difference between the two experiences is that my family is not of the same culture as Ugwu-Oju. Ugwu-Oju was born and raised in Nigeria, of the Ibo tribe whereas my family is from the southern part of America but of some African descent. This means our cultures could be very differing in terms of social practices but could also share similarities in that category as well.
Another similarity between the two experiences is that my mom and Ugwu-Oju expressed being worried at their children not obtaining enough of their culture when being raised in an environment completely different from the environment they were raised in. They believe that if their children did not take in the culture they were raised with, their culture will become extinct. My mom and Ugwu-Oju did not want this to occur, but they also want their children to make their own decisions in life which conflicted with their culture.
Lastly, the author of, “Should my Tribal past shape Delia’s Future?” Dympna Ugwu-Oju discusses the topic some parents have of instilling their culture to their children. Ugwu-Oju relates the topic to her own life when realizing that when her daughter Delia returns home from college, she may not have any of the Ibo sense of culture Ugwu-Oju was raised with. In comparison, my mom who was raised in South Carolina but then moved to Boston Massachusetts and became worried her children would not identify with southern culture. It is evident that parents and their children may not understand each other due to the generation gap or age gap. But it is even more of a trial when a difference in culture it added to the equation.
Sometimes a parent’s offspring will successfully carry on with the traditions of their parents, which then will keep their cultures alive in the near future. In the cases where this does not happen, parents become fearful their culture will die with them. It is a constant, almost never-ending struggle for parents in this situation. On one hand they want their culture to carry on for future generations, on the other they want their children to the have the chance to be their own person. In the end both my mother and Ugwu-Oju are still not sure if they properly continued on their culture thus far, but they are still proud of their children either way.
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