Thursday, October 15, 2009

Life as an Asian-American Mommy

I read an article from the Asian Reporter regarding Asian American Motherhood. I found it quite fascinating because it hit "home" for me. The complexities of motherhood paired with being Asian-American are not discussed or shared. What is life like through the lens of an Asian-American mommy?

Since childhood, the values of working hard and respecting my elders seemed apparent, translucent, and understood. As I reached my adolescent years, experiencing guilt, shame, and emotions were something less tolerated or accepted. The early experiences of racial discrimination beginning in elementary school have left invisible scars. While growing up, there were times that I had hoped to relinquish my Chinese heritage in order to be truly assimilated to the dominant white culture. It just seemed easier.

There is the expectation of being Asian American that you are smart, educated, ambitious, hard working, goal-oriented..the "perfect" model citizen. When you deviate from these perceptions, there must be something wrong. Research states that Asian Americans are less likely to seek help for their emotional or mental health problems. I wonder how many Asian Americans live by the ingrained belief system that “we don’t talk about problems.” I have witnessed the struggle between second generation youth who attempt to merge into mainstream culture and thus, develop conflicts within the family.

Attempting to reach "model minority" status can be emotionally damaging to Asian Americans. Research demonstrates that Asian Americans suffer from higher rates of stress, depression, mental illnesses, and suicide attempts in comparison to other groups. Why? Because we don't talk about our personal stuff, we don't share with others our deep concerns and feelings. Thus, not allowing ourselves to get a new, different, and fresh perspective. The self talk we "hear" can be distorted ideas and beliefs. Through talk therapy, we can allow ourselves to identify and work on changing those irrational ideas and beliefs to being more positive and healthier.

I have read numerous books and research articles on best practices for positive parenting. And, I have to admit...there have been a few times that I detoured from expert advice on issues like the "binky" and cosleeping. Guess what? My child is fine and thriving.

Parenting is challenging and yet so rewarding. Through the lens of an Asian-American mommy, there is definite guilt associated with how to be the BEST MOMMY for my child. This present guilt stems from earlier experiences. And awareness allows me to deal with the guilt and not let it overcome me. I want to spend enough time with her. I want to expose her to all types of social emotional learning activities. I want to raise her with values that I learned from my family. And I want to encourage emotional expression and TALK. Looking back on what I have learned from "walking the talk", I am definitely proud to be an Asian-American Mommy.

If you are dealing with emotional distress, I encourage you to reach out and seek help. You don't have to "make it" alone. Look forward to hearing your stories of Asian-American Mommyhood.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Welcome to my first blog on improving adolescent girl and women health. Today, I realized what my first topic would be to share with you. I recently experienced an AHA! moment and can use reflection to tell the story...

I finished my first half marathon run, or should I say jog/walk? It was physically exhausting and emotionally exhilarating. I began training 3 months ago with the hopes that I would become the avid runner... ultimately healthier and fitter. I was really invested to accomplish the journey to finish a half marathon. Setting the END goal was easy! Setting the weekly goals (you know the stuff in between points A and B) like running 4 miles twice a week and running longer on the weekend, seemed like a stretch but definitely possible.

As each week passed, the short-term goal of running three times a week grew farther from grasp. I knew what I needed to do to train for the 13.5 mile run but couldn't get myself to commit to the lifestyle changes that I needed to make to actualize the goal. At one point, I didn't run for almost 4 weeks. Why? I had all the excuses.. too tired, allergies, tomorrow, ate too much (Do any of these sound familiar to you?). Excuses lead to self-sabotage. I was fulfilling the story I wrote for myself. How do you identify and respond to dysfunctional thoughts that lead to self-sabotage?

I was motivated to sign up for the run because it challenged me to get healthier and fitter. However, the journey that I had hoped for did not happen. And yet, I still reached my end goal. At the 8th mile, I felt like I could run's amazing how adrenaline kicks in. At the 10th mile, I was in tears wanting to give up, ready to fail, in physical pain and exhaustion. Crossing the finish line was a goal accomplished.

It is easier to set goals than to follow through. Have you ever set an achievable goal with the best intentions...only to find yourself doing the same things over and over? Do you live a self-fulfilling prophecy that someone else wrote for you?

Whatever goal you have for yourself to being healthier physically, emotionally, mentally, or first need to ask yourself, "Are you ready today to make the changes needed to make your goal a reality?" If not today, when? In a week, month, or year? Write down your motivations for getting started today or waiting til later. What are the pros and cons to waiting vs. doing now? How do you want your life to be different? Who will it impact? What will it feel and look like? How will you know when you have reached your goal/s?

Self-defeating thoughts can lead to lowered self worth and confidence. You can rewire your self-talk with practice and support. It is possible to say "I CAN" and "I WILL" vs. "I CAN'T" and "I WON'T". Commit to the goal and value the journey even if it is not what you hoped for. There is a purpose for the journey, even the challenging ones.

There is HOPE! Get your positive support team on board (friends and family). The more you share your goals with others, the more likely you will follow through and be accountable. Find people who want you to be successful and aren't sabotagers themselves. You might find people in your network who are envious of you or just plain negative. Don't fall victim to the peer sabotagers. You have enough on your fill up with people whom lift you up.

Please share your GOAL ACCOMPLISHED stories with me.