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6716: Re: 6631: Stressed families struggle to relate (fwd)

From: C&C Henrius <carolineislands@hotmail.com>

>....said Marcelin, who with her husband, Louis, a UM sociologist
and anthropologist, is researching drug use and gang activity among
Haitian youths. ``Parenting in Haiti and parenting here is not the same...

Boy howdy, is that ever the truth!  I just returned from spending time with 
a couple of our kids in Haiti -- 3 and 4 years old -- and was it ever a 
thrill ride.  I kept the kids with me for several days and I'm still not 
sure if they adore me because of genuine feelings toward me or because I 
don't spank and yell.  The minute they are left in my care and the Haitian 
women are out of range, they go wild.  They run and dance and make a huge 
rucus.  They climb on me and kiss me and laugh for hours.  And they don't 
listen to a single thing I say because I won't yell and make an evil face.  
And when I got desperate and tapped the 4 year old on the butt, he just fell 
back on the bed, slapping his thighs and said, "Woy!  Kawolin, ou fE m ri 
twOp!" and off they went again.  It was a regular circus, and I love them so 
much I really didn't mind even though they were wild and crazy.  The hugs 
and kisses and long conversations were worth it all.  But it does raise the 
question as to how a person coming to the U.S. from Haitian culture would 
make that change in parenting, especially if the child is older, like early 
teens.  I see in my own experience that these children are so conditioned to 
yelling and spanking (*hard* spankings) that they really don't respond to 
anything else.  This problem is a real challenge.   It makes me wonder how 
we can resolve our cultural differences and how far we have a right to go in 
dictating to Haitian-Americans as to how they can and can not parent their 
own children.  I remember my husband telling how he once saw a Haitian woman 
and her teenage daughter getting off the plane in Port-au-Prince.  The 
minute they passed immigration the woman started thrashing the girl and 
saying, "call the police NOW...  call social services NOW..." and the people 
all laughed heartily.  There's a story in that, I bet.  Then there's the 
bank account.  The Haitian-American teenager gets $50 US deposited in 
his/her name each time they act out. When there's enough money in there to 
buy a ticket to Port-au-Prince, they are off for 6 months with grandma and 
grandpa so far in the mountains you never see electric light.  The second 
time it's a year. The third time, they have to get back to the states on 
their own.

C. Henrius
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