Check it out! Caring For The Bicultural Family: The Korean-American Example (JABFP, May-June 1993: 261-268). It's super interesting and discusses how to bridge gaps in communication in bicultural families. For example, B. Wayne Blount, MD, MPH, MA, and Amos Curry, MSW, advise that "...it is not appropriate to equate the nonexpression of emotions in Asian women with the absence of those emotions" (266). They also talk about the idea of a "cultural broker" and describe it as a "rare individual who understands both cultures well, who has bridged the differences between them, and who can live comfortably in either one" (266).
My experiences tell me that the Korean-American elements translate well into Chinese-American. I see myself and some other bicultural children as cultural brokers. A few tables and other sections of the article really stick out. Here recently, I've been thinking about how I might have been depressed as a child and not known to describe it as such. On the sixth page of that JABFP article, the authors describe how a child might present with depression: "abdominal distress, sleep disturbances, headaches..."
All of the discord between me and my sisters, all of that depression and passive aggression between my parents. Most of it makes sense through the lenses of the majority-minority and cultural identity development models. It's been difficult to explore cultures -- ethnic, economic, education, and otherwise; and to be honest with myself about personal traits that hinder or help. Always, there is a question of, Does this help or hinder my Chinese side or my American side? Group conversations have been particularly challenging over the past few years. Ad-libbing? No way, not for a long time. All of that terrible with the rapist. Now with an eldest sister who doesn't speak with me. Embarrassing. I feel a little humiliated about this stuff.
Perhaps it's the kind of thing to which we can all relate, to some degree. That sense of humiliation and confusion. We all feel low or lethargic sometimes. There's a really helpful simple exercise that shifts emotion with minimal effort: half-smile. It's when you raise the corners of your lips to a half-portion of a smile. Try at-once half-smile when irritation arises. It's so basic you might dismiss it at first like I did.
Communication and cultural identities are complex topics. It's a challenge to live in this world sometimes. My hope is that all of us trust ourselves and the greater good, and that we keep going with confidence. Even if sometimes we trip up or feel foolish, may we nourish, support, and protect our innermost selves and practice harmony in our society.
Well hello there.