Children of immigrants often experience a singular quite guilt, brought on by the pressures of navigating different cultures, living up to their parents' expectations and taking over extra family responsibilities.
They are often straddling two cultures referred to as bicultural straddling. And there’s often this expectation to form our immigrant parents’ sacrifices and choices for coming to the present countryworthwhile.
Many children of immigrants often feel chronic sense of guilt for letting their parents down, for not being enough, for seeming ungrateful. There’s also this sense of a thriver’s guilt or this guilt of growing, healing, accessing resources and opportunities that perhaps their parents didn’t have or our family and other parts of the planet don’t have access to.So many children of immigrants may have grown up being liable for their parents also.
If we expect about an immigrant’s journey to the West, they'll not speak English well, so tons of youngsters of immigrants may act as a translator, may help pay the bills, may help take care of younger siblings and we know that immigrating and immigration can lead to a lot of family and generational conflict, as everyone in the family is navigating their own acculturation journey, creating a way of belonging within the host country.
So, tons of youngsters of immigrants are often mediators for cultural conflict within their family. This responsibility for the well-being of our parents, whether it’s explicitly or implicitly stated, can be reinforced over the years as a sense of obligation and it is exhausting.
Children of immigrants are often internalizing these beliefs that they have to be a certain way, and act a certain way, and then they’re out in the world feeling like they’re also not enough in the western sense of the world.
Regardless of their background, an excellent number of immigrants come to a special country to completely start anew. Many of them have given abreast of their own personal hopes and dreams of living the life that they always wanted. Instead, they rest their purpose on providing the simplest things for their children. They sacrifice their hopes and dreams in order that someday their children can have the chance to form their own hopes and dreams come true.
Many children of immigrants get older aware of the big sacrifices that their parents have made and spend the remainder of their lives proving to their parents that the suffering was not in vain. For this reason, they do not feel comfortable informing their parents of their mental health struggles.
The ways to cope
The thing about chronic guilt is that it can force us to be small. It can tell us we must stay within the box. We shouldn’t take up tons of space. It quite encourages us to distrust our own needs, especially if they differ from the people around us. It is important to understand such guilt and few strategies need to be adopted to come out of it.
1. It is really important to question the guilt.
2. It is important to identify your parents’ beliefs and values and then explore your own and see how they overlap.
3. Ask yourself how he/she can lovingly detach from the assumption or belief their parent have. And also ask yourself if you are internalizing something that doesn’t actually speak true to you.
4. Remind yourself that your parents are often doing the best they can with what they know and were taught.With that, you have to have a lot of self-compassion to understand that you’re deciding the way to affect something that perhaps nobody in your family hasaddressed.
5. It is really important to show up with a lot of self-compassion.
6. To accept that guilt may always be an emotion that you navigate, it’s a warning light. A lot of children of immigrants look to guilt and feel guilt and say, “oh my god’’ so this is a sign that they need to turn around and not do the thing they want to do or continue on the path he/she is about to take.
7. Sit with guilt, see it as a warning sign and try to understand where it’s coming from.