Thank you for tuning in to listen to SEASON 2 of Project Voice! Let's kick off the new season with a topic that many of us constantly have to grapple with regardless of how old we are: interacting with our parents.
I wouldn't say that all Asian parents are strict and conservative by nature, but I would like to open the floor to discuss the reasons why some of them are that way to their children. I think that it's more important to focus on how different our beliefs and values are to our parents as it is quite a unique experience growing up as an Asian in the U.S. in which you experience cultural clashes within your home everyday. In this episode, my friend Swati and I will share stories on how we cope with our differences and disagreements with our parents.
Swati Sharma is a neuroscience research assistant at a pharmaceutical company who loves comedy and singing, and is passionate about learning new things and making the world a better place. I'm so excited to have her as my first guest of the season on Project Voice!
TRANSCRIBED BY CLAIRE TRAN
JESSICA NGUYEN, HOST: Today’s podcast is brought to you by Audible. Get a free audiobook download and 30 day free trial at audibletrial.com/projectvoice. Over 180,000 titles to choose from for your iPhone, Android, Kindle or MP3 player.
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NGUYEN: Hi, welcome to Project Voice! This is Jess. I am so excited to have Swati, my friend here on this episode. Yeah, she's a friend of mine from Smith College. I think I’m going to have her introduce herself because I like it when people introduce themselves more than I do it myself. (LAUGHS) So hey Swati, what’s up? How are you doing?
SWATI SHARMA, INTERVIEWEE: Hey, I'm doing pretty well. So yeah, I know Jess from Smith College. We were in the same house, Northrop House, for about a year and a half. We comprise a group called Clean Up Crew that met in the dining hall every night to stay up until like, 4 a.m. to study and stuff. Yeah, I majored in neuroscience and I am Indian American.
NGUYEN: What are you doing now?
SHARMA: I work in a biotech company called Sanofi Genzyme and it's basically a pharmaceutical company and I work in the neuroscience therapeutic area of that particular company.
NGUYEN: Cool, cool. Sounds cool, actually.
NGUYEN: Yeah, right now we're actually talking at near midnight, right before New Year's. So yeah, it's a bit- we're both a bit tired, but we're going to try our best and follow through with this interview. Today, we're going to be talking about something that a lot of us go through. I know with like, every episode, it's something that a lot of us go through, but this something is definitely, you know, been with us, these people have been with us since ha, forever. When I say people I mean our overprotective parents. Yes. They are always there, even now. From when we're babies to high schoolers to college, you know, they're just parents. What do you call them? Helicopter parents. You know, hovering above you and paranoid about your safety and well-being that they just want to be there with you all the time and know where you are at every second. If they could have a GPS tracker attached to you, they would. Ha! So I know that Swati and I bonded a lot over our frustrations dealing with overprotective parents. Yeah, I don't know. Tell me about your feels about what it's like living with parents like that.
SHARMA: I guess I'll say that they have become maybe a little bit less overprotective over the past couple of years since I came back from college, because they figure like, "Oh, you know, she spent four years away from us, pretty much. There's less pressure." But there's still kind of a lot of elements in spite of, like okay, work, where they kind of try to weight in their opinion a lot. Like on the really small things that maybe less protective parents, or less involved parents, I don't even know what word to use but would maybe kind of leave to the kid- like, what are you wearing? How much time do you spend in your room? You know, whether you clean your room. Basically things that maybe one, parents would urge their kids to guide their kids through when they're maybe preteens or children or teenagers, right? But now that I'm 23, I still have my mom come around and be like, "Oh, are you really wearing that to this event? Make sure you make your bed this morning!" Just will tell me little things like that, which, I mean, I don't know to which extend that's overprotectiveness but I mean, I think they're just trying to be involved a lot. Yeah, sometimes it does get to be like, "Oh, you know, I'm 23, I kind of should know how to do this stuff already.”
NGUYEN: No, I get it. Yeah, maybe not so much overprotective sometimes, more like a bit controlling.
NGUYEN: A different parenting style that others experience that differ from what our friends have to go through. And yeah, sometimes, you know, it's from the little things, like you said- from what you wear to the little things you do in your daily routine, but also like other things that they put a lot of thought into. Like when I was younger, I wasn't allowed to go to sleepovers, because they were-
SHARMA: Oh, same.
NGUYEN: I think it was like an Asian thing.They were just afraid that something would happen to us.
SHARMA: Exactly. And I never really understood it; even to this day, I don't completely understand it. I think they heard in my case, they might've heard some stories of things that happened at girls' sleepovers and they might've heard of dangerous things that happened at somebody's house. I guess ,just in general, they're afraid of what could possibly happen at night when their little child is off at someone's. Little girl, I guess. Sometimes I wonder if there would’ve been a difference if they treated in certain matters if I was a boy versus if I was a girl.
NGUYEN: No, I think that is a really good topic to bring up. Because we are women, we are girls, they are more worried about our safety. They're just more involved. For example, sleepovers. Or else, it's like how we act, too, like how we behave. Like how I should carry myself around. Like I should be graceful or I should-
NGUYEN: I should just, act like a lady and not shake my legs or do these quirky weird habits that I do.
SHARMA: Not shave your legs?
NGUYEN: No, not shave. Shake. Like, shake my legs.
SHARMA: Oh, shake your legs. I thought you said not shave your legs.
NGUYEN: (LAUGHS) I don't know. When you get anxious or something, I just do that and my grandma would be like, "Stop it, don't do that. That's not ladylike." You know.
SHARMA: Yeah, and like nitpicking on things like clothes and how your hair looks and all that stuff.
NGUYEN: Yeah, it's like, "Oh, you should have long hair, leave it long instead of chopping it off." You know, when I had my hair chopped off, they were so mad.
SHARMA: Oh, really?
NGUYEN: Because in Asian cultures, hair is very much valued and women are expected to keep their hair long.
SHARMA: Actually, it's funny because my mom really likes long hair but my dad always wants me and my sister to have short hair, because he feels that it takes too much time for us to get ready in the morning because of our long hair. He's always like, "Oh, I'm going to cut it short if you cry about the tangles in your hair." You're always like "No!"
NGUYEN: I don't know. I think every parents [are] different. When I showed my hair to my parents--
SHARMA: Oh yeah, because you had the fade out.
NGUYEN: Yeah, I had the Smith chop. So at Smith, we had this thing where like, a lot of people would just chop their hair off during one of your years at this school oR something. You know, it's called the Smith chop, because a lot of people get short haircuts at Smith. (LAUGHS)
NGUYEN: I did that. I remember when my mom first saw it, she screamed her head off. She was like, "How could you do that! That is your hair! Who said that you could do that!" And it was weird hearing her ask me that because I'm here like, "Wait, this is my hair though." You know? And I know that she's just mad because she's concerned and concerned about my well-being, maybe...
SHARMA: Your well-being of your hair. (LAUGHS)
NGUYEN: Yeah. (LAUGHS) Just like, I come off as less attractive with short hair, or something like that. Yeah, like our parents can be very opinionated people. Going back to the whole being paranoid about our safety thing, I think a lot of it has to do with them seeing a lot of dangers, hearing a lot of dangerous events happening in the real world. Criminal activity happening everywhere, apparently. They often cite the news, like, "Oh, did you hear what happened in the news? Like someone blah blah blah got kidnapped or murdered." You know, that- I don't think they want us to feel afraid. Like, they don't want you to feel afraid but just to be more vigilant with what's going on in our life. So it's interesting to see the common traits that our parents have when we think of them being overprotective and a bit controlling sometimes. But it makes me wonder why they're so overprotective. Like, where do you think this feeling stems from? With my family, they've been through a lot of near death experiences like through the war and through starvation. They've seen people starving and in worse life situations. Definitely people who were much worse off than we are. And so I think growing up lacking those resources, like proper food and shelter and lacking that sustainable lifestyle has made them forever fearful what's going on in the future. Or just-
NGUYEN: Super vigilant.
SHARMA: I think one thing that's kind of common to a lot of Asian-, I guess people who immigrated from Asian countries, probably particularly South Asian countries, is that a lot of the times they see, they come from places that have gone through a lot of turmoil, right? And like, you know, I'll ask my parents about all this stuff. I'll ask them oh, what was India like, right? And they'll tell me about all this crazy stuff that had happened just because of a lot of political turmoil, and even just in terms of changing social norms and you know, changing times in general, right? So, they come from all that turmoil and they come here. I mean, the whole reason why they even come here to some degree is kind of for a better life, probably to get away from some of that turmoil and whatever hardships they might've had to face in those countries. You know what I mean? So then they come to me in a state of, “Okay, well whatever we had to go through during our childhood, we don't want our kids to go through that or see that.” So they have this kind of probably idealized picture of how they want their lives to be, and they just see an opportunity to live those lives in countries that don't have that much turmoil or where they see that they could live maybe a more comfortable life. They go there and they kind of want to crystallize that, you know what I mean?
SHARMA: They want to make it so that everything that they thought their life could potentially be, now that they have an opportunity to live it, it better stay that way.
SHARMA: You know?
NGUYEN: Mm hmm. Yeah, and they want their children to live the life that they couldn't have. You know? And if we somehow don't meet up these expectations or this life plan that they've set out for us, then it's almost as if we come off as endangering ourselves. Or they're just worried that sometimes the decisions we make will make us worse off. Or you know, lead us to starvation, getting kidnapped.
SHARMA: All stuff that ultimately doesn't end up happening. Well, not always, maybe in some cases but.
SHARMA: I think, maybe over time, it's more like a fear, right? A lot of that stuff probably comes more from fear and I think over time, we kind of learn to take some of the things they said with a grain of salt. Just knowing that they're there at least to some degree. But then as we live our lives and we hit all those milestones that they think we should, then their perception starts to change and they start to ease up because they see that we can take care of ourselves. But even then, remnants of, I mean, I've talked about this with other Indian people, South Asian people I know and they say a lot of the same things, like their parents will call them and make sure they're not doing certain things. So, we stay really close to our families. I think that the thing you were saying before about there being a controlling aspect is pretty true.
NGUYEN: Yeah. I do think that them being a bit controlling and prohibiting us from doing a lot of things can hurt them, too. Sometimes when they don't allow us to do things, that doesn't mean that we're not going to do it just because we're not allowed to do them. They are super overprotective as we get older, especially during our teenage years. Those are the years when we get rebellious, a bit rebellious. We're trying to gain more freedom, have more freedom in our lives, have more space and you know, we do things that allow us to get our way, allow us to have our own way but not theirs. I know that hiding things from our parents, from my parents was quite common. Confession time. And I'm not the only one, obviously, like.
SHARMA: Oh no. [LAUGHS]
NGUYEN: Right? It's like if I want to go out and be with my friends, just hang out with my frands. Frands? Hang out with my friends. I sometimes don't tell them. I wonder if my mom is going to listen to this. (LAUGHS) But I sometimes don't tell them or if I want to go out of state, stay at a friend's place overnight or something, that's a big no-no from them but I still did it. I just told them I was not there, I was in my own bed [LAUGHS] that weekend. So things like that like, hiding, is pretty common just because we don't want our parents to be too involved. It's like trying to draw that line that they need to stay behind. Like, "Okay, we love you and everything, but we need some space." And you know, it can actually hurt if our parents don't realize that if they don't become more lenient about this up until now, then we're just going to continue hiding things and if something worse comes up while we're doing our own thing hiding them, then that's not going to be any better, if that makes sense. Basically I'm saying that worse things or bad things can happen to us if we continue to not tell everything to our parents. It's better to just be transparent to them.
SHARMA: Yeah, I know it is better. I guess what ideally happens is just, I mean I'll say one thing, right? I think it does get a lot easier once you get older just because they're less scared and they’re less flustered about the whole thing, which I think is kind of counterproductive, because if you want your kid- you want to make sure your kid is on the right path. You can't put them in a situation where they don't feel like they can tell you things.
SHARMA: Or like, put them in a situation where they feel that they're just going to get penalized even for telling you the truth but the thing is that they're young and they don't really know better. They don't necessarily know that these certain things, why certain things are being restricted. Why should, why should all of the focus be put on obedience than actually understanding the rules? But I know that when I was younger, like I used to hide from my parents if I liked people, right?
NGUYEN: Hmm, yeah. That's it.
SHARMA: I hardly ever used to tell them if I liked anyone or if I was dating anyone or anything. But more recently, now that I am dating someone, they actually do know about it now and they're okay with it and It's a very new concept to me now, because for the longest time, it was like I never used to tell them about that kind of stuff, ever. I never used to even bring it up. Never really talked about it. I think there were a handful of times when I did, but whenever I did, it hardly ever ended well so I used to avoid it completely. Even if I did tell them that I had liked someone, it was usually like, a really watered down version of what was really going on. You know what I mean?
NGUYEN: Yeah, I know what you mean. Our parents are pretty conservative, too. They really want me to just focus on our studies, my sister and I. Just focus on our studies, don't think about dating and knowing that, I'm not going to open up and share with them my crushes from high school. Yeah, my high school and college crushes. (LAUGHS)
SHARMA: Right, because you feel like you're ashamed for having those in the first place and not just focusing on school and doing well in school.
NGUYEN: Yeah, it's weird. They're like,"Just focus," but then also be friends, stay friends with guys. I don't know. Every parent has different attitudes towards their children's dating lives. Some are expecting their children to marry early and they're more liberal about that whole dating/love lives. But I think for me, I'm a bit of an anomaly simply because I think I open up to my parents quite often so I did open up to them about my personal life at an earlier age compared to my friends but I know that it's definitely hard when you're younger just because they see us as children.
NGUYEN: They don't listen to us as if we're adults. But now that we're grown-ass women, we are strong, independent women, they see us a different light. I think our parents not only have higher expectations for us, they're also seeing us as adults finally. Like, listening to us, there we go. There-they know that we're taking care of ourselves, like we are responsible and we're independent. I find that like it’s this validating feeling that I get for just being and adult and proving to them that I can take care of myself. Now that I can take care of myself, then they just know. I don't know, I feel like I'm being respected, if that's the right word.
SHARMA: Mhm. Yeah. Like you're kind of allowed to talk about that now. Like, seriously like, I can't even get over how relieved I was like, my mom and I went to dinner once and um-
NGUYEN: I thought you said Tinder. (LAUGHS)
NGUYEN: I thought you said Tinder. (LAUGHS)
SHARMA: Yes, yes, yes, we went on Tinder together because my mom has a Tinder. (BOTH LAUGH) But no, we went out to dinner and she just casually brought up like, "Oh, okay," so we just casually started talking about my boyfriend and it was just very... different, you know? I wasn't used to it at all. Just because again, like, but I think if I had those conversations much earlier, I probably would've had maybe probably ,maybe a less rough of a time dating and just social situations in general.
NGUYEN: Same. Yeah, like just being paranoid about my parents' paranoia. (LAUGHS) Having to call them every so often just to make sure that, just to reassure them that we're alive, that I'm alive.
SHARMA: Haha, yeah.
NGUYEN: And if I don't pick up the phone, they freak out. Especially my dad, he calls a million times. I won't pick up the first time, he leaves voicemails, and then he emails me. Whenever I go out, go out of state or traveling or something, he asks me who I'm going with and he asks me for their phone numbers just in case, you know. So, it's just in case something happens to me and he knows that there's someone else to reach out to. I understand that. So, I understand where they're coming from and I really appreciate what they're trying to do but yeah. I think it's ha, comforting to know that we're not the only ones experiencing this
NGUYEN: But a lot of people are too. But it's, I think this specific trait has definitely affected our personal lives and our personalities. I sometimes don't find that I'm in control in my life, because they have such a huge presence in my life.
NGUYEN:I forget that I can make decisions on my own.
SHARMA: Yeah! Exactly.
NGUYEN: Right? And I just, for me how I deal with it is that I chose to go to college out of state and I'm choosing now to live and work a good distance from them - not because I don't want to be with them, just sometimes creating your own space is important. I think that really helps me. I mean, that's why people travel (LAUGHS) and people just get away.
SHARMA: Do your parents know about your next venture in life? (LAUGHS)
NGUYEN: (LAUGHS) Umm, I've talked to them about it, actually. I've told them about my travel plans. I told my mom more because she's more like, "Whatever makes you happy, I'm happy. I'll support you." And my dad is like that too, but he's definitely more concerned about the life path, like the career life path that I'm choosing. Like, he wants me to be successful and the kind of successful that he has in his mind. And I appreciate all the advice he's been giving but I know it's not for me. And it's funny, like when I told them that I wanted to travel and go back to Vietnam, they're like, especially my dad is like "Why do you want to go back to Vietnam? It's so dangerous."
It's weird, you know? Southeast Asian countries having this stigma not only in foreigners' perspectives, not only in Westerners’....
NGUYEN: Non-native. Yeah. Non-native perspectives but also like even my family's perspective is like that. Like, "Wow, Vietnam is dangerous. It's scary. It's not a place to go back to."
SHARMA: There's a similar perception in India, which is weird because all of my- pretty much all of my extended family lives there and I mean, they're pretty decent people for the most part. I've lived in India before. I mean, yeah, were there certain amenities that are available in the U.S. that weren't available there? Yes. Was it such a hellhole that they made it out to be? No. Definitely not. I mean, it's just all kinds of people live there and I'm sure Vietnam is the same way.
NGUYEN: Yeah, I think... Like, my dad, I think he was trying to scare me when he was telling me how on the streets in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City, there are all these used heroin needles lying around.
SHARMA: Mhm. You'd probably capture that if you go to Connecticut right now. (LAUGHS)
NGUYEN: (LAUGHS) Right?
SHARMA: Same thing.
NGUYEN: Same thing. Um, people use drugs here, too.
SHARMA: In suburban Connecticut, yeah. It's an epidemic right now, like.
NGUYEN: Really? I didn't know that.
SHARMA: Or was that New Hampshire? I think I'm confusing it with New Hampshire. It was one of those states. One of those states. One of those states in New England.
NGUYEN: Yeah, got to look it up. The thing is I know how to read, write, and speak the language so I'm pretty confident that I can get by. But they're still like, "You can get kidnapped! You can get scammed by them!" Who knows, you know? I mean, sometimes I just accept their ways and I just let them be them. I just let them be them. And you can't really do much, especially when you're younger. I find that to be a hard truth to swallow. But it's hard. I don't know. I'm curious to know if any of our listeners out there who have tried to have a sit-down and talk to their parents when they were younger about this in a mature conversation. Because I find that my parents- they're like, "Because we're your parents, because we're older than you, we gave life to you, we know better than you," you know?
NGUYEN: "You cannot know better than us." And so I don't feel like I had a voice. I had enough justifications for them. So, yea,h I guess I answered my next question that their tendency of being overprotective does become less often as we get older, which is great. What are some of the things you would do to evade their force, get what you want? So, we talked about hiding. (LAUGHS)
SHARMA: Yeah, for sure. I mean, you know, just like, if you want to go see someone that your parents don't, not that they don't want to see a boy or whatever. And then you just kind of like say, "Hey, I'm going to go see my friend," or whatever. But, which isn't completely untrue, because if it's a boy and they're your friend, then they're your friend, you know. (LAUGHS) It's not like they're your enemy or anything like that. (LAUGHS)
NGUYEN: Unless he's an acquaintance? (LAUGHS)
NGUYEN: Unless he's an acquaintance.
SHARMA: Yeah, but um, you know, like things like that and just, it kind of sucks to do that, right? Like I want, you don't know how long I've just wanted to actually be like "Yeah, I'm going to see this guy." I kind of envy people who can just openly tell their parents about the people they date in high school or get relationship advice from them in high school. Like, that's a completely foreign concept to me. But yeah, I would just either, social media has the potential to be very helpful in hiding these kinds of things, just because like my parents were never really up-to-date on that. Like, my mom still doesn't have a Facebook. My dad has a Facebook but he hardly ever uses it. He only really got it like, maybe a year ago or so. So growing up, social media wasn't really a thing. My parents weren't on board with it, but of course, I was on board with it because I was a kid. [LAUGHS] You know, like it was kind of for my generation, sometimes, at least in the beginning. But then, I guess differences in technological ability worked in our advantage probably in trying to hide certain things because you could like, you know you could talk to whoever you want as long as they have a Facebook or something or you could go look up whatever you want, you could learn all this stuff. You're basically open to a side of the world that they could never show you or that they couldn't stop you from seeing because they didn't really know how to navigate it. They didn't grow up with it and have the opportunity and need to be exposed to it like we are.
NGUYEN: Yeah, definitely. I am so thankful for social media. I am thankful for the Internet, the advanced technology we had growing up because I was able to create a life of my own online.
NGUYEN: As weird as it sounds, that's how I was able to reclaim my control over my life by creating this persona, world of my own, my own space where I, only I, have access to. Only I can navigate and I can talk with whoever I want, like you said. Like, I could express myself in different ways :blogging, updating my statuses, commenting on other people's posts, creating digital content, sharing them online. Things like that and because my parents aren't up to date with technology... Actually, no. My dad's a computer science major so I think he's quite up to date. So I think for me, it was just more hiding things from him but hiding things from both of them, again, the computer has allowed me to create a world separate from the world that I was living in real time.
NGUYEN: And that makes me wonder whether there is a healthy way to meet in the middle. Is it possible to strike that balance with your parents? With our parents?
SHARMA: Yeah, I mean... I don't know, like sometimes I am kind of able to kind of sit down and honestly tell them things. Like, I remember when I was like 18, I remember sitting, not really sitting down with my mom because at the time I was in India and obviously I couldn't sit down with her because we’re trying to move along. And I just explained to her, I was like, "Listen, I like guys and that's just how it is." Otherwise I'd be probably asexual or maybe lesbian, which is weird because, you know, in a traditional, probably homophobic family is like being asexual or lesbian is definitely not an acceptable option.
SHARMA: Better that your child be straight and want to date, even if dating isn't part of the mold of how you think things should work, but at least they're not the other thing, which is like, even more unacceptable. But that's how I almost bargained with my, I don't even know if you could call it, it's almost like bargaining with my mom. Like, "Oh, I'm going to date guys. Otherwise, I'd be asexual or lesbian." That kind of convinced her in some sense that dating was going to be a part of my life, you know?
NGUYEN: I just told my mom, really. I think it's important to establish that trust, that sense of trust between me and my parents first, proving to them that I am responsible. I make smart decisions on my own and then telling them the truth, telling them that, "Oh, I like this person," or "I'm seeing this person," so on and so forth. Because our parents, too, have been through life and they've had their ups and downs, so I think they have this unrealistic desire to keep us protected from every type of harm, when it's impossible to do so, and I think eventually they have to realize that they have to let their children to be hurt, to experience the hurt, to experience the downfalls of life in order to grow and be able to become a new person, to be better. Yeah, and I think that's what my parents have realized. And the best that they can do, the best thing that they can do as supportive parents is to just be supportive. Just be there.
NGUYEN: Provide advice. Be present. You know?
NGUYEN: Yeah. Sharing affirmative words, just showing positivity, all that good stuff. Providing the advice from the experience they had. So yeah, even I remember when I lost my, I had a really good job offer. And I told my family about it and they were happy for me, of course. They were looking forward to this new life transition. And then I lost it. And I hid it from them for quite a while out of the shame, you know? Like, I feel like as children of Asian parents we feel obligated to please them. Not only to take care of them when they’re older, but also to listen to them, to do whatever that makes them feel content and again, please. Because I think culturally, we're just conditioned to feel obligated, culturally we're just conditioned to respect our parents and listen to them in every way all the time. While in white American households, it's different. Their children, there's just more freedom with them. Like, they're not expected to take care of their parents once they're out and about, once they've become adults. They have more freedom. And I mean, not every, I wouldn't say, you know, again, this is a generalization but it's a common theme that we see.
SHARMA: Yeah, I guess there's just less obligation.
NGUYEN: Yeah, between two different cultures. So, before we both fall asleep, ha, I want to know what kinds of takeaways you are hoping our listeners will take away from listening to this podcast episode.
SHARMA: If you have really overprotective parents, over time you kind of learn to kind of see their perspective and I think the more you try to see their perspective, the better. But just because you see their perspective, that should help understand them and maybe develop a kind of similarity, like a kind of kinship with them based on that. But at the same time, that doesn't mean that they're right all the time, even if their fear makes sense or you know, you can kind of understand that fear. That doesn't mean you have to bend under that fear, too, and make decisions that you think you might regret just because you think your parents may not agree with it. But I think at the end of the day, most Asian parents, I would say, most do things because they genuinely care about their kids and they genuinely want to see their kids successful, and if they see that you're successful, that you're happy, then what else is left, right?
SHARMA: Over time a lot of those parents learn, they learn what to put value on and what not to, right? And you know, it's understandable to want to like, to want to hide things from your parents and stuff like that. Like, you said earlier, there's often this ideal to try to build more trust with your parents even if it is difficult.
SHARMA: Yeah, even if you kind of have to battle it out. I know I had to battle it out with my family over a lot of different things. And sometimes those battles get resolved, sometimes they don't. You just leave them alone and it gets better.
SHARMA: I mean, ha, I don't know, just try to like, not talk about it.
NGUYEN: We can visit them later. Months, months later.
SHARMA: Yeah. (LAUGHS) All in all, it is possible. It's kind of like, yeah it's difficult in its own way but that doesn't mean there's nothing to learn from your parents and even from their experience and that it's completely possible to have a more balanced relationship with them down the road.
NGUYEN: Yeah, definitely. Have hope in your relationship with parents. Sometimes it's a tug-of-war. Sometimes it just takes time. I would say try to be empathetic towards your parents’ situations, to their upbringing, to where they come from, and see how it's like. Because I remember when my parents were like, "You know when you start having children, you're going to understand how we feel."
SHARMA: Oh my god, that's exactly what my parents tell me.
NGUYEN: Right? And I'm like, "Okay!" [LAUGHS] Um, yeah.
SHARMA: If I ever have children.
NGUYEN: Right, yeah, exactly. If I ever have children. So being understanding, being patient, again, making sure. Just remember that deep, deep down, they do it out of love. The power of love can be overbearing, a bit too strong sometimes. But it's there for the better. So the second question I have for you is what are some spaces and resources that you would advise our listeners to go to? If, for example, they have a hard time connecting with their parents, like opening up with personal issues, either emotional-related, mental health-related.
SHARMA: I mean, I just often found it really good to have friends that I can confide in. I know that sometimes anonymous help lines will often help if you need someone to really just listen to you, just vent out something. Like the Samaritan's help line. Like, I've called that a couple of times with my frustrations with my parents. You know, just being able to have friends, or even if your friends don't necessarily, don't have necessarily the same family dynamic. Even if you have people around you who are willing to listen, that's often more than enough.
SHARMA: As for resources, I would probably say if you're talking about outside resources, yeah I would say like, help phone lines, like Samaritan's really helped.
NGUYEN: How are they? Like, what's your take on using these phone hotlines?
SHARMA: It's pretty good. The only downside is that sometimes they have a time limit.
NGUYEN: Oh, okay.
SHARMA: So they'll only take people for like 10 minutes at a time. And sometimes you want to talk more, you want to discuss it more.
NGUYEN: Wait, 10 minutes? That's... not a lot. Okay.
SHARMA: Yeah, Samaritan's has like a 10 minute time limit, which is really annoying but I guess if they get like, a lot of calls they can only allot a certain amount of time to each call.
NGUYEN: Yeah, okay. But. Hmm, that's something that they need to work on. It shouldn't be 10 minutes, I feel. Like, yeah, there's a lot of calls but there's a lot of calls for a lot of reasons so they should have more people working these hotlines.
SHARMA: Yeah, I know online there are certain websites, like the Kid's Health or the Teen’s Health website that has a lot of different resources for those kinds of things. Even if you read, I know this sounds weird, if you ever read parenting help books, right? You could probably see exactly what sorts of things those parents might be thinking and you use that as a way to mediate. I don't know if maybe only like for certain ages then, not for college age. People probably if you're younger, or whatever. I used to sometimes read parent, I'd read some parenting magazines when I was really young and kind of like got to see the other side sometimes. Just because my parents would have parenting magazines lying around in the bathroom.
NGUYEN: Yeah, that's a good way of trying to look at it from their perspective. I just, again, I think I was a weird kid. Just being an anomaly and trying to be different. I think it was easier for me because I had divorced parents. They were both single and so I felt like it was easier for me to approach them because the way they made their children their center of attention, so... I got it a bit easier... sometimes and like they want the attention from their children I think. And so I think for me I felt like it was easier. My sister was the opposite, though. I hope we'll be able to share that side of her in a future podcast episode, but growing up, we had different personalities and different reactions to our parents’ overbearing, controlling, protective behavior. So she was a bit more closed off than I was. Sometimes, I just think doing something outside of the norm or going again this norm or assumption that they're not going to listen to you, when in reality, maybe they really do want to, you just have to be the first one to initiate it.
NGUYEN: But again, it depends on your relationship. I think now I've come to appreciate my relationship with my parents so much more because I can talk to them about so many more things and can relate to them more. What's going on with work, what's going with dating. What’s going on...
SHARMA: I found politics to be a very unifying factor in my family because we all hate Donald Trump.
NGUYEN: Yeah! (LAUGHS)
SHARMA: During this entire election season, we've had so few fights than we used to.
NGUYEN: (LAUGHS) That's a fun fact. I remember growing up as a high school student and college student, I found it easier to open up to my dad. Or I found that I was talking to him more because that was when talks about work life, career, future, adulthood comes in. Yeah. Growing up isn't always that bad, you know. There are some pros to it. But yeah, I guess the basic message is we all love them. It's just that they're different. We're different. We just need to accept each other's differences and try to create that bridge if we can. So, Swati, thank you so much for taking your time out and talking to me. I know it's really late now but I really do appreciate it.
SHARMA: Thanks for having me on.
NGUYEN: Yeah, you're awesome.
SHARMA: Thanks. (LAUGHS)
NGUYEN: (LAUGHS) Thanks.
SHARMA: You called me awesome, bruh.
NGUYEN: You're welcome, bruh. Haha. Umm, so. For all you listeners out there, if you ever want to get in touch with us, you know where to reach us. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also tweet or find us on Facebook, whatever floats your boat. But I will see, well, not see. But tune in next time for the next episode of Project Voice. Thank you for listening. Bye!
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