What do they talk about?
Part two of this wonderful episode of This American Life presents a curious addition to the stereotype of 'controlling immigrant parent' on 'suffocated child.' The parent in this case is a comedian who clearly and humorously acknowledges her control on her daughter's life, and the daughter while lamenting this, understands and sympathises with her mum's case.
Children of first generation African and Asian immigrants often have a shared experience of being pressured to overachieve in professions imposed upon them. This urge to control the professional aspirations of their children does deserve some empathy however.
Immigrants are hyperaware of their difference and the likelihood that this may hinder their careers. Vocational careers such as medicine, law and STEM subjects are the most prevailing choice as they are seen as reliable, trustworthy, and with qualifications hard to dispute.
At the same time, this desire for their children to have stable careers does not necessarily mean that they will thrive in them and their parents' desires can butt up against the children's' happiness and independence. In the podcast, Zoya confesses: "I had worked so hard to create this identity that wasn’t just Indian girl does STEM… I feel like I’m caught in this mismatch of cultures." For their parents, the compensation and status that a successful career brings takes precedence over whether one enjoys it. To have a job that entails both is an unfortunately rare privilege. However, for kids growing up nowadays, liking their job often takes precedence and provides the foundation to the likelihood of a rewarding career.