by Ngot Toung

Aside from my son’s birth, another great moment in my life would have to be the birth of my daughter. Being a parent is thankless, exhausting, and frustrating at times; yet, I would not trade it for the world. I know that raising my daughter correctly will take a lot of love, trust, and encouragement to see her grow up into a healthy adult.

I want her to have the traditional Khmer and American values. Why? It is because I am American and Khmer. I believe that by exposing her to both cultures, she will have the opportunity to choose the best of both worlds.

Khmer culture is family-oriented. The average Cambodian household consists of the immediate family and the extended family. In contrast, the American culture is more about independence. Learning to be on your own. I want my daughter to act independently, yet maintain a sense of familial obligation.

Both cultures have their own ideals. For instance, keeping quiet during a meeting may appear to be respectful in Khmer culture; on the other hand, the American may assume it to be a sign of an unwillingness to participate in a group discussion. This could result in a negative outcome when dealing with Americans.

Another example of contrast is the concept of time. In America, there is a saying, “Time is money”. Americans tend to look down on people that show up late for meetings. To them, it is a sign of disrespect. By contrast, in Khmer culture, we try to understand the reasons why they are late and be more lenient. These differences are not correct or incorrect, but as a parent, I want my daughter to understand and appreciate both culture’s views. My only wish for her is to live in equal balance with her Khmer as well as her American side.