Upasana Dillip, Grade 9
Volunteering at a tiny zoo in San Mateo and binge watching TV shows with her mom. Going out to see the newest Marvel movie and giggling at dad jokes with her dad.
When freshmen Upasana Dilip thinks about her parents, happy memories like these come to mind. According to Dilip, her family, comprised of her 11-year-old sister, mom and dad, play a huge role in shaping her life.
“I am pretty close to my [family],” Dilip says. “I can talk to them about everything and I feel comfortable being myself around them. I can [express what I’m feeling], happy, sad or any other emotion, around them.”
To Dilip’s mom, Preeti Raghunath, understanding your kids and supporting them emotionally is one of parents’ most important duties. Whether it be a bad grade or problems with friends, Dillip believes it is vital for parents to be there for their kids and help them — a job she thinks her parents do well.
Raghunath further believes that the duties of parents not only include helping your kids emotionally but also helping them thrive in every other aspect of life.
“[Beyond just feeding them and clothing them and so on], my duty as a parent would be… to make sure that my kids are living up to their potential,” Raghunath says. “Whether it’s academically, athletically, artistically or any kind of vector that they want to develop in, being that force and that enabler in their area of interest is absolutely my duty.”
Although Dilip’s parents try hard to always complete this duty and provide for their kids, not everything in their family runs smoothly. According to Dilip, similar to many other families, she and her parents sometimes disagree about their methods of parenting.
“I think my parents definitely are on the strict side,” Dilip said. “[If I could ask them to change one thing], I would ask my parents to give me a little bit more freedom. Let me do things with my friends; I’m not going to go out every single day but maybe like once or twice a month, which would be better than what it is now, which is like four times a year.”
On the contrary, Dilip’s parents don’t believe that they are strict. Rather, they believe their parenting style falls into the middle of a spectrum from strict to relax.
“I think we are more in the middle of the spectrum,” Raghunath says. “I think that we are more strict when it comes to certain aspects of her life. We want her to be home at a certain time. We worry a lot about her safety and her happiness, so that way I think that we are a little bit more conservative. But we’re still relaxed because we take her to [lots of football] games and we travel immensely.”
Dilip’s parents are against dating in high school and emphasize the importance of getting good grades. They also often disagree about how much she should hangout with friends.
Often times, what makes Upasana more upset than the restrictions themselves is not understanding why these restrictions are enacted in the first place.
“Personally, my parents, they just say no to anything and they don’t give me an explanation,” Dilip says. “That’s frustrating for me; it would be easier for me to see where they’re coming from if they explained their decision. “
Although she thinks living with strict parents is difficult, Upasana understands where her parents are coming from when they disagree with certain things or restrict her; she understands they aren’t trying to upset her.
Dilip’s mom expresses a similar sentiment, explaining that making Dilip sad or angry is painful for both sides.
“The hardest part about parenting for me is taking a hard stand in my kids life,” Raghunath said. “When you get an understanding or feeling for what the kid wants, but … it’s not the right thing for him or her...You know they’re going to be heartbroken at the end of it, but still the mom in you kind of arises despite all her instincts, just to make sure your child is protected.”
Raghunath explains that a parent’s first job is to keep their kid safe, and sometimes that means making difficult or unpopular decisions. Usually, however, Raghunath tries to be a friend to her daughters, someone they can reach out to and confide in. Through all the highs and lows, at the end of the day, Raghunath believes parenting is an incredibly rewarding and satisfying experience.
Whether it be having a deep conversation with Dilip, watching football as a family or taking care of animals with Dilip, Raghunath thinks the memories that parents make with their kids are irreplaceable, beautiful and enriching.
“I love, love, love, love these kids,” Raghunath says. “I like the whole journey. When the kid is small, you have no clue what to do with [them]. The whole journey of how I’m going to groom it into a person who you become proud of, the world becomes proud of...from a little infant to a person who you can respect and be able to say, ‘Hey this is my piece of art and I’m proud of it.’ I think that is my favorite part.”
Tabitha Mendez, Grade 10
For sophomore Tabitha Mendez, the most important thing about parenting is trust.
To her, trust is a two-way street. A parent must be able to trust their children to help make the right decisions, and children must be able to trust their parents to do what’s right for them. In fact, Mendez credits trust as the reason her relationship with her parents is so successful.
“My parents trust me a lot so … they don’t have many boundaries for me,” Mendez said. “They know I’ll be responsible at the end of the day. It helps build a better connection between us because since they trust me, they’re not always suffocating me to tell them where I am or [tell them what I’m doing], and that makes it a lot easier to get along with them.”
Another important part about Mendez’s relationship with her parents is balance. Although her parents give her a lot of freedom to have fun and try out new things, she says her parents also understand when it is important to utilize a harsher parenting style.
According to Mendez’s dad, Tyrone Mendez, he and his wife try to shoot for the middle of the parenting spectrum: not too strict to the point where Tabitha and her younger brother feel stifled in their home, but not too lax to the point where kids have no direction and guidance. Although many parents try to aim for this middleground, Mendez explains that it is very difficult to achieve. Fortunately, in the Mendez household, Mr. and Mrs. Mendez work as complementary parts
“For us, it seems like the mom and the dad [complement] each other,” Tyrone said. “Usually, my wife is stricter and I am less strict. There are other areas where I’m more strict and she’s less strict. So my wife and I balance each other out so that we reach the middle point.”
Tabitha explains that the differences in parenting between her mom and dad stem from their own background and childhood. Tabitha’s mother was raised in an Asian family with a relatively stricter environment. Tabitha’s mother’s parents started working long hours when her mom was only 10, leaving her mom to take care of herself and her younger brother.
“Because of the way she grew up, she’s always been very work focused and driven and very centered around being independent,” Tabitha said. “Sometimes she’ll tell me to figure out the problem on my own because she knows I’m capable of doing it even if I don’t know [if] I’m capable of doing it. My mom pushes me that way and it helps me grow.”
On the other hand, Tabitha’s dad grew up with parents who were constantly involved and supportive, and he tries to replicate that for Tabitha and her younger brother, Talon.
“My dad is usually way less strict than other parents,” Tyrone said. “He’s very laid back; he’s like my friend.”
Although Tabitha’s mom and dad have different styles of parenting and slightly different backgrounds, they form a united front for their kids.
“The most important aspect to [successful parenting] for us is that me and wife agree to raise them a certain way,” Tyrone said. “I think it’s important that parents are united in how they’re going to raise the kids and have had discussions about what’s the best way to do things [so their kids aren’t confused].”
In the Mendez family, both Tabitha’s mom and dad stress the importance of being supportive and affectionate toward their children, an aspect that Tabitha really appreciates.
“My parents are very supportive and very caring,” Tabitha said. “They let me try a ton of different things — different sports, different music... They always say whatever dreams I have, those are their dreams too. They always uplift me and my brother and try to teach us to see things better than worse.“
Tabitha explains that when she was a little girl, she would get in trouble for things like forgetting something or not standing in line properly. Her parents would punish her first, and then reassure her that they still loved her and nothing would change even if she messed up. To her, this reassurement gave her the strength to take risks and reach out of her comfort zone.
Just as Tabitha appreciates her parents and the sacrifices they’ve made, her parents appreciate all the happiness and positivity that their kids have brought them. Whether it be on a family vacation or around the table at dinnertime, the Mendez parents enjoy just talking, laughing and learning about their children.
“When they’re babies, you look at them and you wonder — what are they gonna be like?” Tyrone said. “What’s gonna be their favorite thing to do? What are they gonna be interested in? They grow up and you see their character shape and keep changing and developing, its really fun to watch ... who they’ve become... both of my kids turned out wonderful and that’s quite rewarding.”
Tabitha says that she is well aware of all the hard work and effort that goes into raising children, and because of that, she greatly appreciates everything her parents have done for her. In fact, her parents effort translates to more effort from her as well.
“Both my parents are really loving and supportive,” Tabitha said. “And so I try to work hard to make them happy to give back what they give to me.”
Tabitha and her parents believe that they have a balanced, healthy, loving relationship. However, just like any other family, they have their own problems. Often times, Tabitha and her parents disagree or argue and don’t see eye to eye on certain topics, such as school or how to spend free time. According to Tyrone, however, at the end of they day, the family devotes the time and energy to work past their issues and ensure all family members are happy.
In fact, Tyrone believes that taking the time to work past difficulties and get to know each other is essential to building positive family relations and the main reason why Tyrone and Mrs. Mendez are so close to their kids.
“It’s very easy to let our schedules dictate what we do and get in the way,” Tyrone said. “But it’s really important to put those schedules away at certain times and make sure we spend good quality time with the kids…I spend time watching the shows she watches so we can talk about them and listening to some of her music so we can make comments together and share our favorite music together. Spending that type of time together helps us become really close.”
Tabitha agrees with her dad, adding that even through she disagrees and argues with her parents sometimes, she knows they will always be there for her. Whether it be watching Asian movies and buying groceries with her mom or laughing at cartoons and watching musicals with her dad, the little moments are what make her bond with her parents so strong.
“We struggle together,” Tyrone says. “We [go through] hard times together, we pray together, but we make it through.”
Vikramaditya Rajpal, Grade 11
This simple question has made a huge difference in junior Vikramaditya Rajpal’s relationship with his parents.
“I don’t know any kid who comes back home and asks his mom, ‘What did you do today? How was your day?’” Vikramaditya’s mom Sohini Rajpal said. “It’s as simple as that, but I love it [so much]. I ask [also] him: How was your day? What was good today? What was not so good today? It may be something silly. It may be something nonsensical, but I love to hear all that.”
Both Vikramaditya and his mom believe that these conversations help their relationship grow, especially because most families are often too busy and wrapped up in their own schedules to converse in that manner
Vikramaditya’s parents try to let their kids find their own way through life and not get too involved, so this question also serves as a way to understand what is happening in their kids’ lives.
“For both our children, we have been pretty liberal,” Sohini said. “We go along with what they think, as in we explore their ideas. Usually, we found that they are more knowledgeable than we are … about what they are doing. They choose their path so we support them in that.”
Vikramaditya agrees with his parents and enjoys the freedom that comes with a more relaxed parenting style. He often hears stories about other parents forcing their kids to join clubs and sign up for certain classes, so he appreciates that he gets to make his own decisions.
Vikramaditya’s mom believes that every parent and their parenting style is slightly different. According to her, every parent wants their kids to be happy, successful and good individuals, and each parent has a different way of achieving that goal. However, she also believes a relaxed parenting style is most effective.
“This style is definitely more effective because the world is changing everyday and it’s shrinking,” Sohini said. “If the kid looks up to the parent to decide everything, he or she may miss out many opportunities. They may not be capable to face the world, so I feel like this kind of parenting to allows kids to grow more.”
Vikramaditya believes that his parents trust him to make the right decisions, so there isn’t a need for them to control every aspect of his life or chip in for every decision; Vikramaditya believes that this trust is key.
“[I think the key to a successful relationship] is a balance of freedom on both sides,” Vikramaditya says. “Never controlling too much of a person’s life and also giving a benefit of the doubt that like they know what they’re doing and they’ll pull through.”
Although Vikramaditya’s parents allow him to make his own decisions, they are always open to helping him and guiding him when necessary. According to Sohini , one of their primary goals is to provide a home environment where Vikramaditya and his sister are safe and happy.
“The kids should feel safe [and] they should be able to talk to their parents about anything,” Sohini said. ” I don’t believe in parents [and their children] being friends. Parents should be parents, but they should have that comfort level with their children where the child can talk to their parents about any of their problems or emotions.”
Beyond safety and happiness, Vikramaditya’s parents also try to mold their kids into kind people with good moral values.
Because kids learn from what they see at home, Vikramaditya’s mom believes the best way to teach them how to be good people is by leading by example. By going out of her way to help someone or cooking food for her sick friends and neighbors, Vikramaditya’s mom tries to teach her kids how to be kind and considerate.
She also believes that language is another important factor that plays a role in her kids’ characters.
“They pick up a lot of what tone is used at home, especially at a younger age,” Sohini says. “When parents use a kind tone at home, it affects the language of the child. They will talk in that same tone, use those words. You can’t tell them [to] respect person A, or love person A—they have to see it happening around them and they follow.”
According to Sohini, leading a good example can build respect and lead to a healthier relationship between parents and kids. This technique has worked for the Rajpal family, who enjoys spending time together.
The family eats dinner together every night, watches movies together and even devotes time on the weekends to hangout. This special bond was strengthened by multiple different factors.
The Rajpal family has lived in in India, Australia, Japan and the United States. When their environment changes, the family turns to each other as constants.
“We moved around a lot,” Vikramaditya said. “So I always have to look to them, like, what do I do now,’ cause it’s a new place and environment and they help me out and allow me to do everything else.”
Beyond this experience, Rajpal’s family grew even closer when Vikramaditya’s sister was diagnosed with cancer. Although she recovered and now attends college, going through a difficult experience like that brought the family together.
“I [love being with them],” Sohini said. “[Vikramaditya] has been a very talkative child ever since he was small. He would ask me when he was four years old, ‘Mom, when I was in your stomach, did I have an umbrella for all the food that would go on top of me?’ It’s just little memories like that just really stand out to me.”
The under-celebrated dad
We don’t give fathers enough credit
When tackling the topic of family roles, modern television and cinema spits out the idea of a “dumb dad.” Maybe it’s a satirical reflection of America’s families parenting roles. Or maybe it contrasts the know-it-all, overbearing mother role that’s depicted alongside the father. Characters in TV shows like Family Guy’s Peter Griffin or The Simpsons’ Homer Simpson emulate dim-witted dad characteristics on the big screen. Overall, these ideals of simulated families from mass media muddle the current reality of a father’s role in the household.
This caricature of a father passed through generations ingrains the image of a nonchalant father figure, whose responsibility as a parent falls behind because they lack involvement in the family. They are allowed to be dismissed from being a parent due to their incompetence, and responsibilities like household chores and involvement in their children’s lives fall to the mother.
There’s a possibility that this all came from the traditional sense of a family, in which the father solely works to support the family, and the mother is considered the housewife and sole caregiver of children. This hands-off dad takes no part in raising their own child. The one who comes home overworked after a ‘nine to five job’ and does nothing but drink beer and watch TV. The one who doesn’t drive their kids to their soccer games and help clean the house. The one who refuses to go to the PTA meetings and their kids’ drama rehearsals. This idea created the conception of the super mom, who manages a full time job and fulfills most of the household duties. This toxic representation of father figures in families undermines their importance, implicating that their sole duty is to pay the bills.
This unflattering image of the father has all too real consequences. One such consequence is in child custody cases, where the stereotype of the father as the financial support and mother as the emotional support continues. A study conducted in Nebraska in 2013 revealed that mothers got either sole or primary custody of their children 72 percent of the time. Favoring biological mothers in custody battles is sexist towards men. It’s especially unfair because there’s no reason a father would love and care about their kids any more than a mother. In an article by The Independent stated that in August of 2016, the Supreme Court dismissed a father’s attempt to remove his two teenage daughters from the custody of their mother and stepfather, the latter who is a registered sex offender and served prison time for molesting a teenage daughter in a previous relationship.
Despite their image as uninvolved and insignificant, fathers are actually very crucial to the development of their children. A 2016 Pediatrics study examined the development and health of children based on their father’s involvement in their lives. On average, children born with developmental problems do a lot better when fathers are involved in their raising. When a child is a toddler, the father often engages in rougher play than the mother would, encouraging the infant to explore and become independent. When children are first learning language, it is often fathers who introduce new vocabulary, despite mothers spending more time talking to babies on average. Fathers more involved with kids during their teen years have children less likely to develop psychological issues and exhibit self destructive behaviors like smoking and drinking. Girls with active fathers are even less likely to become pregnant in their teenage years.
Craig Garfield, co-author of the Pediatrics study and professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University’s School of Medicine stated, “We know that dads who are more involved can contribute really positively to their children’s development. And they do it in a unique way that can complement, but not necessarily mimic, the way moms contribute.”
In an article by The Independent, research shows that children who grow up in fatherless homes are more likely to live in poverty, use drugs and alcohol, commit suicide, be sexually active, engage in juvenile delinquency, have long-term physical and mental health problems, have lower life expectancies and have lower educational attainment.
Dads, in a way, change the perspective of nurturing children. They are an important keystone to a child’s development. There’s always been a public stigma of a non-committal father. As a society, we need to portray dads as having an equal standing as mothers in terms of parenting, not as being the secondary parent. Because males do not carry the child themselves during a pregnancy, there is a preconceived detachment to the child. However, this toxic perception of the father does nothing to benefit anyone. The child is ultimately detached from their fathers, and the mother must compensate for the absent parent. Fathers who are involved in their children’s lives deserve to be highlighted and praised by society. Fatherhood should be celebrated as much as our society currently celebrates motherhood.
Students talk about their experiences with immigrant parents
Branching out of Stem
Why Monta Vista parents shouldn’t always push their children towards STEM extracurricular
Parents of MVHS students want the best for their students. They’re known for being willing to make sacrifices and go to extreme lengths to give their kids the best possible opportunities. They often have high expectations for their kids and a very narrow idea of the “right path” through life. Whether it be providing math tutoring or signing kids up for computer science classes at a young age, parents do whatever they can to enable their kids to be successful.
Despite their parents’ good intentions, this often turns into a lot of restrictive pressure for MVHS students to pursue STEM fields.
MVHS is located in a suburban city called Cupertino. While Cupertino may be small, it is in the heart of the Silicon Valley, with companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook all headquartered in the area. As a result, most of the students of MVHS are the children of employees to these tech companies, creating a suffocating STEM-centric culture amongst MVHS.
From this chasm of the technological world, there is an incredible atmosphere of pressure on students to follow their parents and go down career paths in similar fields, leading many MVHS students to choose a career simply to satisfy their parents’ wishes or continue the legacy.
Although parents often have good intentions, their influence can weigh too heavily on their children. Some parents of MVHS are so forceful that their kids blindly follow their guidance towards STEM careers, ultimately losing their own interests.
Granted, some students pushed in this way end up truly enjoying their STEM classes. However, many end up mentally and emotionally drained as they devote years of their life to something they don’t even enjoy.
What’s worse, parents pushing their kids to sign up for STEM classes and pursue STEM extracurriculars since a young age leads to a vicious cycle that traps kids in STEM fields. When the time comes to apply to colleges and choose career paths, students only have qualifications and experiences suitable for STEM fields, and therefore feel obligated to apply under a major they don’t want to pursue, simply to better their chances of getting into a higher ranked college.
Ultimately, it is vital for parents to understand there is more than one path to success. While STEM careers are successful, other careers can be just as lucrative. On top of the financial aspects, it is undoubtebly more important for a child to choose to pursue a career they love. At the end of the day, money will mean nothing if a person is not happy and enjoying their life.
While it may be acceptable to drive students towards these classes at a young age, parents should not force them to continue, especially as they reach middle and high school and begin to make their own decisions. At that point, staying in extracur
riculars that they do not enjoy takes time away from exploring fields that students are actually interested in. When these classes become less of a desire and more of a chore, parents should listen to their children and let them quit. They should trust their children to make wise decisions and thrive in whatever field they may choose.
No matter how late it might seem, it is worth it for both the child and the parents to take a moment and reflect. Reflect on one’s reasons for pursuing a certain field. Reflect on whether extracurriculars and studies actually provide value to one’s life. Reflect on whether or not one would be happy in their chosen career for the rest of their life.
Parents are not in charge of their kid’s life; the kid is, and a child’s meaning of success may completely differ from their parents’. This pressure-filled culture MVHS contains needs to be revolutionized to an open, supporting environment for students to thrive, and this needs to start with our parents. If a student wants to pursue the teachings of the Bible as their career path, let them. Don’t add on stress to an already rigorous academic lives the students have. Let the students do them.