Father and Son

father son conflict

Parents often have conflicting views with their child, something they see to be correct is seen as incorrect by the child. This often causes conflicts between the child and the parents as both are unwavering in their belief that they are correct. These conflicts range from small conflicts, when we are just a bit older than a toddler, to larger conflicts, when we are teenagers. I find this especially true with parents that have not “modernized” or have not had much contact with a diverse part of society, resulting in extreme close-mindedness and unwavering perspectives.

My dad came over here when he was in high school, went to community college, worked his butt off, and went to UC Berkeley. He likes to remind me that during that path, he gave everything up, his friends, his free time, and his childhood basically. Unfortunately he would like me to do the same, he wants me to not join any clubs, not go out with friends, he wants me to do nothing but study. He was mad at me this weekend because I wasn’t studying for finals (which is 4 weeks away). He gave me a talk about how he believes I am not determined enough to get to college, that only 4 kids in a high school usually get to a good college and I probably won’t be one of them. What annoyed me the most was the fact that he said the people in clubs are bad influences. It just aggravates me that he hasn’t even met those people yet and still made the assumption that they do not care about school simply because they do clubs and volunteer. I told him about kids who do clubs, varsity sports, and still get straight A’s; however these kids balance their time out instead of focusing all their time on school as he would like me to. He replied with a sneer and snobbishly said “We’ll see” after I said they will probably get into college. I currently have straight A’s yet he wants me to study more and tells me that I do not have the determination to get into college. I feel as if he is too traditional, that everything during our childhood revolves around academics. I often ask myself what if hes right and I am wrong, what if I actually wont’ get into college? I just hate the fact that he only sees high school as the time in our life where we must spend our entire time studying.

OldVsNew

Traditional vs Today

I love participating in clubs, however getting a ride to club events is always a pain. Every time I ask my dad to go somewhere for volunteering I always get a speech about how I should focus on school rather than non-academic stuff like clubs. This often discourages me from going to club events as  I don’t want to deal with him by asking him a simple question of whether he can drive me or not. What is even worse is when he interrogates me about my friends, whats their GPA, what do their parents do, what ethnicity are they (he is extremely biased toward certain ethnicities), etc. He tells me that I should only be friends with the smartest kids in school so that I can learn from them and use it to make myself smarter. This idea just annoys me, this seems as if I am taking advantage of other people for their intellect. I can’t simply just go up to a person and decide we should be friends; we must have something in common, enjoy the time we spend together as friends, not whether not his/her GPA is higher than mine.  I understand that academics is extremely important, however I feel that we need to balance it out; we only have one high school experience in our lives. How can I tell my kids that I spent my entire high school experience studying and not doing anything else. Club experiences just aren’t the same as we grow older, there is just a childish feel to being a teenager. I understand that my dad went to high school in Vietnam and their high school experience is probably different than ours, however I wish he would open his mind and instead of just sitting there making assumptions that everyone who does clubs is not going to college, he would instead give it a chance. I don’t mind if he nudges me in the right direction, but I don’t like the fact that he’s completely grabbing my shoulders and shoving me down the pathway that he took. I noticed that he doesn’t really have any friends, he rarely ever visits friends and if he does its always the same one or two. I would hate to be like that,  I may be introverted but I still enjoy spending time with friends.

What I feel like doing most of the time talking to my dad

What I feel like doing most of the time talking to my dad

This conflict has strained my relationship with my dad since I began high school, my ideology of balance and his ideology of complete devotion to academics are unwavering. I truly believe that if I listen to him, and even if I get into a prestigious school, what use is it if I don’t study. Problem is that I can’t change his mind, he is simply too stubborn and stuck in the mindset of his childhood. Whenever I try to explain to him he either ignores me or simply just says something like “We’ll see” or “They’re wrong” with his little sneer that I have grown to hate. In my hallway, I have a little whiteboard where we used to doodle on when my sister and I were younger. After last weekends argument, he writes on the board “You have 4 weeks to prove whether you are a success or a failure”, which I don’t mind, maybe hes just trying to motivate me. I do mind, however, if he keeps breathing down my neck and constantly pushing me toward pure academic devotion. After he had written that little message he did a little gesture that infuriated me. So in my home, my room is at the end of the hallway, and my dad recently hung his UC Berkeley diploma at the end of the hallway so whenever I am leaving the house or my room I see it, glaring at me, reminding me that my dad went to UC Berkeley and  I might not get into it. I feel as if this was a slap in the face, just annoys me how he wants to convey his message.

My dad and I have never had the model father-son relationship ever since I was around 6, he and I always had conflicting views, me being influenced by American culture and him still living in 1980s Vietnam. We never went fishing together, its always awkward being around each other, and we rarely say more than a few sentences to each other. This relationship often makes me wonder, how would I react if he were to disappear. In English class, we are currently reading Night by Elie Wiesel, a book about a Jewish father and son that live during the Nazi occupation of Hungary. They are both deported to concentration camps, and I predict that the son and father will get separated before the end of the book based on hints in the book. It makes me think, if I were in this situation, how would I feel about my father, even though we may have our disagreements and I hate him so much at times he is still my father and I am his only son. Its one of the questions of life that is hard to answer without tearing up and reaching into the bottom of our hearts. The simple answer is, I don’t know, which is ever more scary to me than knowing how I would react.

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