A Balancing Act: Unlearning and Embracing Chinese Immigrant Mothering
As a Chinese immigrant, motherhood involves unlearning patterns of thinking and behaving from one’s upbringing and learning healthier ways to mother. Many view Chinese mothers as tiger moms, a harmful stereotype that does little to embrace the diversity of Chinese motherhood. This article draws on my lived experiences as an immigrant mother to my three American-born Chinese children. For me, the act of immigrant mothering entails a delicate balancing act where Chinese and American values often conflict. These conflicts highlight the racial inequities in how mothers are allowed to mother and experience motherhood. There is no one way to mother, but the heteronormative white, middle-class mothering style is dominant in how society defines good mothers. Little has been written about racial equity among mothers and how motherhood often details negotiating between culture-specific and American norms. My article seeks to explore racial equity and widen the boundaries of motherhood by exploring the impact of immigrant mothering practices, navigating Chinese and American cultures as an immigrant mother, reflecting on how my immigrant mothering has affected my American-born children, and lastly, understanding my cultural history and its influence on my Chinese identity. To widen the rhetoric on mothering, we must engage the narratives of racially diverse mothers to understand motherhood’s multiplicities and complexities. Only then will we have a more inclusive view of motherhood that will build racial equity to benefit women and children.
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