A Generation Gap or Two

Korean food

“Hello, Mr. K. This is Mrs. Jones calling. Can you come in to school for a parent/teacher interview?”

“No. Is not possible.”

Well, okay then. His daughter was an honor student. No need really to meet with the parents, but still …

The next day, L handed me a note. It was an invitation for me and my family to dine at her father’s restaurant on Sunday evening.

“You eat Korean before?” Mr. K asked as the hostess seated us at a table.


He took the menus away. “I bring. You eat.” And eat we did. A delicious array of new tastes and smells.

After the meal Mr. K pulled up a chair. “My kids. They look in mirror all day. Go to movies. Wear jeans. Makeup. No work.”

“But, Mr. K,” I said. “L is an honors student. Her marks are all in the 90s.”

“Bah! Why not 100%? When I come to Canada I work many years in tar sands. Finally, I have enough money. Come here. Open Taekwondo club. Then restaurant. My kids. No work. No speak Korean. No want to go back visit family.” Dramatic gestures accompanied his words. Sounds of disgust punctuated his sentences.

“But, Mr. K, your kids are great students. L and her brother have good marks. They work hard.”


And that was pretty much the end of the interview. I learned later that L’s brother contemplated suicide. Fortunately, he never acted on it. Both L and her brother went on to be successful professionals, but I’m guessing Mr. K would have still had doubts about his children.




7 comments on “A Generation Gap or Two

  1. Very high expectations for asian children. We had a Japanese homestay student who got excellent marks and worked hard at her studies. She came home in tears one day and showed us her report card. It was mostly As with a couple of Bs. A report card I would have loved to have seen from my daughter. Our homestay sobbed, “My father will kill me.” We were in shock.

  2. Not only immigrants. Trust me on that one. I have realized in later years how much damage is done to a child where little or nothing is asked of them. But equally expecting and/or requiring perfection is not the answer. The real problem is that it takes an enormous amount of time and attentiveness to parent well. The short cuts always cost us and our children.

  3. As with most things in life, parenting is a matter of finding the balance between too strict and demanding and too lax. After years of teaching and parenting, my advice would be to err on the side of strictness and high standards without going over board.

    • Amen to that. I figure you can always go down hill if you choose. But going uphill without having had that experience prior is an unfair disadvantage to those kids who never had the opportunity to feel themselves lofty.

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