Immigrant parents won't drop the subject of their former country, help
August 15, 2014 10:32 AM Subscribe
It's been 32 year since they immigrated to this country, but pretty much the one and only thing my family ever talks about is the home country, and it drives me crazy. I can't change them, but I could probably handle it better. Details and the plea for help within.
posted by tumbleweedjack to Human Relations (30 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I am the adult child of Iranian immigrants. I'm born in the USA and identify as a Persian-American (ethnicity dash nationality. I'm not Iranian). My entire life, the number one topic of conversation within my immediate and extended family has been:
1) how horrible things are in Iran now
2) how great things in Iran used to be
3) Such-and-such celebrity is 1/4th Iranian, isn't that wonderful
4) Iran Iran Iran Iran Iran Iran Iran
Three decades have passed since they left Iran- for both my parents and much of my family, that's more than half of their entire lives. I understand that emigrating from a conflict is an extremely traumatic event that leaves a deep mark, but sometimes I feel that their expectations of how much *I* should care are far too high.
This morning my mom and I got into a (minor) argument because I was not appropriately outraged that Iran photoshopped Maryam Mirzakhani, the first winner of the Fields Medal for Mathematics, into a headscarf for newspapers there. My response was along the lines of "why are you surprised, this is what they do." What I wanted to and did not say was "I don't really care about what Iran does, because I'm not Iranian and I'm tired of this subject." I tend against nationalistic feelings and don't feel like the accomplishments of a person of Iranian origin have anything to do with Iran or with me.
I don't want to take away their right to talk about a subject that they obviously care about deeply- fine, talk about Iran amongst yourselves until the cows come home- but I want them to stop trying to force me to share their interest. As far as I'm concerned my only connection with Iran is that I speak the language and I eat the food and am the progeny of two former nationals.
Has anyone else had this kind of issue? I want to be sensitive to them, but also, Persian families are not exactly respectful of personal boundaries and I don't have a lot of faith that anything I could say would actually result in changing their behavior. So-- how can *I* change to make this less bothersome?