I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!…….Who’s going to read it anyways?………. Who cares about what I have to say? …….These are some of the questions I asked myself as I contemplated setting up this blog, but the real question should be: WHY NOT? The truth is there are thousands of women like me, struggling daily to maintain a healthy family life while trying to advance their careers. All in the name of chasing the elusive American Dream. Our failed attempts often result in elevated stress levels, feelings of disappointment, anxiety and in many instances depression.
Why Caribbean Parent?
………..Because that’s who I am, a 30 something, Jamaican juggling parenting, marriage and career. I became a Permanent Resident in the summer of 2012 and made the decision to move to New York city in the Spring of 2013, four years later I am still struggling to achieve balance. My main reason for moving was to finally have my family living under the same roof as my husband had been living here since 2006. While I wear many hats, being a parent is my first priority. After all, it is the reason I decided to leave Jamaica. Parenting is no easy fete, it is one of the most challenging jobs we will ever have, and our own dreams and aspirations often take a back burner so that we can be the best parent possible. Aside from uniting the family, the move to America seemed like a great idea as it meant exposure to a world of opportunities for my children. The truth is, being a Caribbean American parent presents a unique set of challenges and some days I can’t help but wonder if I made the right decision.
What makes us so different?
Many of us were raised by parents with strong biblical principles, which have shaped our beliefs and value systems. Our extended families provided a strong support system, helping to maintain the home if both parents decided to work or it was a single parent household. Members of the community readily offered their “two cents” (much to our displeasure) but we understood the need for respecting our elders.
We got a good spanking when we were out of line; our parents could be our best friend and worse nightmare, all at the same time, but we felt loved. Another interesting point to note is that we were brought up in communities that were significantly smaller than many of the towns and cities we now live. For example, Jamaica is home to an estimated 2.9 million people, the city of Montego Bay, where I grew up has an estimated 110,000 residents, compared to an estimated 8.5 million people living in New York City.
Children seem to be “out of control”, disengaged, underperforming academically and ill-mannered, a far cry from what we are accustomed to.
The fact is, children here do not have the luxury of being raised the way we were. Life in the Caribbean has its fair share of struggles, but we can all agree that raising kids in America presents a new breed of challenges. Being a stay at home mom is not usually an option as both sources of income are needed. Maintaining work-life-balance can also be very challenging as many people cannot afford the 40 hour work week. Children are often left with strangers in after school programs and in some cases at home with an older sibling; not the traditional family environment we are accustomed to. They are battling bullying, cyber -bullying, obesity, drug and alcohol addictions, and are overstimulated by sexual images all around them.
Easy access to technology and Social Media help them create multiple personalities and has been linked to an increase in the number of children being diagnosed with a mental illness.
I DON’T HAVE IT, but I have purposed in my heart to utilize all available resources to help me be the best parent I can be. My goal when I moved here was to get settled in the quickest possible time so that I can focus on giving them the best chance at life. That is what this next chapter of my life is about. I have been tasked with helping them succeed in this jungle called life and while challenging, I believe that success is still within reach.
I started this blog to connect with you, with the hope that together we will successfully navigate this journey to adapting to life in America. As I find useful resources I will share them with you, to help you Survive the Move!
Thank you for reading my post, Feel free to leave a comment below!
Kayan LM – Caribbean Parent