Thursday, January 24, 2013

Our student son is angry – he thinks we've deprived him of his culture

Annalisa Barbieri advises a mother who can't understand her son's attitude

We have lived in the UK for 15 years and have one child – a son who is bright, funny, kind and caring. We sent him to a school of academic acclaim, but he didn't make use of the various opportunities, despite his father and me prodding him to do so. And while he is at university and doing well, he could have made it to one of the top five universities had he put in the effort. While that saddened us, we were happy that he settled in and was doing well.

As he grew up, we visited our families back home annually. He enjoyed those holidays. However, on return he didn't bother to keep in touch with his cousins, however much I asked him to, or reminded him. Similarly, I attempted to teach him our mother tongue several times, but he was not interested.

University life has turned him into a mature, loving and caring young man – he helps me with household chores when he visits in the holidays, chats to me and appreciates what we have done for him as parents.

At the beginning of last year, I mentioned internships in the motherland, as he hadn't managed to get one here (although he hadn't tried very hard). He applied for and secured one. Off he went, a well-balanced, confident young man. He lived with my sister and did well; it helped him decide on his career path. He also bonded well with everyone in the family.

But my son noticed that the other cousins had a strong bond, a shared history and a language he didn't speak, although he understood it well. He conveniently forgot all our attempts to teach him about our culture. He returned full of rage, all broken and shaken up. He raved and ranted at us, so we reminded him about our attempts to teach him our language etc. He grudgingly accepted this and declared he was going back after graduation to settle there. We gave him our full support (as usual) and he began to learn the language, with me as a teacher. Sessions have been very painful – a lot of it involved him spewing hateful words and accusations. He is back at university now, full of rage and anger against us.
Barbieri, Annalisa. 2013. "Our student son is angry – he thinks we've deprived him of his culture". The Guardian. Posted: January 12, 2013. Available online:

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