Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

No babysitters, please, we’re not from here!

Posted by chinesecanuck on May 14, 2008

An acquaintance of mine once said that he and his wife do not use sitters because where they’re from, it’s always family members who take care of the children if the parents have to be away. They said that no one in the old country used sitters. I wanted to disagree with him, but didn’t want to come out sounding politically incorrect. Sure, it may be true for general, every day people, but I really doubt wealthy people from the old country would agree. I can’t think of any country where the wealthy have historically lived just like the “masses.” Wealthy people always had servants of some sort, and this includes nannies/nurses. It’s just that now, “regular people” also use outside help. His little speech made it sound like people who had the money to afford servants weren’t really “part” of the country culture. HUH? I’m pretty sure historically speaking, these were the people who shaped it. They’re the ones whose names are in the records and history books. Unless, of course, he’s only talking about “regular” people.

What gets really odd is that this guy isn’t FROM the old country.  In fact, he was born in the UK and raised in Canada.  He’s probably been to the “old country” less than ten times in his life, yet it seems that he feels connected to the “old country” much more than any other 1.5 or second generation Canadian I know.   Even his wife is from the “old country,” an arranged marriage.  I know other people who have had arranged marriages, but they all married people who were either born or raised here. Did his parents brainwash him?  If so, it’s seriously a WHAT NOT TO DO situation.  It’s parents like his that slow down the acceptance process.

*NOTE: I was mostly raised by my grandmother, but my family still hired a “sitter” to stay with me between 4 and 5:30 while my grandmother cooked dinner.*

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One Response to “No babysitters, please, we’re not from here!”

  1. Mucous said

    The term brainwashed is rather provocative and unnecessary. The medical evidence is still up for debate as to whether brainwashing is a real phenomenon even in the context of religious cults or torture of POWs.

    Additionally, as this post at RConversation puts it rather succinctly ( http://rconversation.blogs.com/rconversation/2008/04/hu-jias-jailing.html ), “the most unsuccessful way to win a person over to one’s point of view is to start out by telling him he’s brainwashed – second only in effectiveness to telling someone that she is part of a grand conspiracy”

    So to apply it to a guy that prefers to use family members rather than hiring babysitters, especially when the superiority of hiring is very unclear, is pretty unwise.

    If it is better to hire, present your arguments for that. If it is better to use family members, present your arguments for that. I think the ‘acceptance by Canadians’ angle is pretty irrelevant.

    CC’s note: I said that this guy goes on and on about how having sitters isn’t what people in the old country do, which is CLEARLY INCORRECT. He should have said that it’s his family. I know for a fact that wealthy people from his heritage had servants, because it’s in the history books. It’s in movies made by people from that country. It’s the way he said it that bothered me. Also, people who are really attached to a culture they don’t really live in (anymore) somewhat bother me. At times, these people are more ignorant than some rednecks I’ve come across/seen on television. Honestly, if you’re going to be that ignorant and disgusted by mainstream Canadian culture, why on earth are you here? Usually, the people who’re this way are older, but this guy is one of the first people under 40 I’ve ever met/heard of.

    In any case, when a family is that insular, kids are in for a big culture shock when they start school. It’s better for a kid to spend some time at a day care or with a non-relative before they start school. It wouldn’t be as shocking.

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