Ideas: How students and parents interact with different ideological beliefs

Stephanie Lam

Originally printed with the headline Familiar Tension on Apr. 6.

Co authored by Mingjie Zhong

To junior Manya Balachander, applying for a job at Jamba Juice seemed to be a natural part of the high school experience.Experiencing the workforce, learning to make money on her own. All of it seemed like a good idea—until she asked her parents for permission. Her parent’s answer was a simple and firm no. Manya’s parents believed that since Manya was a student, she needed to focus exclusively on her school work.

“In my mind [the reason] is fairly easy to see,” said Bala Balachander, Manya’s father. “When you do all these things, being a student, getting a job… your mind is going to be divided. It’s hard to do all [the] things justice.”

But Manya disagreed. She believed that she should be able to balance her academic life along with her social and work life.

“I think the disconnect comes when you grow up in a western kind of high school and western environment, you’re encouraged to explore all these different options, explore what it’s like to be an employee,” Manya said.

“I think the disconnect comes when you grow up in a western kind of high school and western environment, you’re encouraged to explore all these different options, explore what it’s like to be an employee,” Manya said.

To Manya, the word “no” was not only a disappointment, but also a representation ofher and her parent’s sometimes conflicting beliefs. The incident with Manya and her parents is just one example of differences in ideology between parent and child. Student exposure to surrounding ideas allows them to create their own beliefs and opinions outside of family about certain topics—even
if it goes against the way they are raised.

“I am a very argumentative person, and I think I get that from my parents,” Manya said. “I stand up for what I believe in, and my parents taught me that. It’s just that my parents didn’t [foresee] that I [would have] such different beliefs.”

While Manya was asking her parents for a job in her sophomore year, senior Julianna Liu started to rebel a little against her parent’s beliefs in her own sophomore year. Liu realized then that she didn’t have to listen to everything they said. As a result, she disagrees with some of her
parents’ views on controversial issues. “I really got to see what my parents [thought] about certain issues that I’ve always accepted as, “Oh, my point of view should be the same as theirs,” Liu said. “But I’m pretty sure that was the moment I really realized that I was raised to believe in different values than they were.”

One topic in particular that Liu and her parents disagree on is the issue of gay marriage. According to Liu, her parents are not comfortable with the topic of homosexuality and against gay marriages. Liu, on the other hand, supports both. Liu’s parents declined to comment. However, despite the differences, Liu thinks her parents are understanding of the way Liu feels about certain topics.

“Of course there were arguments in the middle,” Liu said, “but we work things out.”

On the other hand, when Manya confronts her parents about controversial issues, she feels that the argument ends in a stalemate. Manya can’t convince her parents, and her parents can’t convince her, although Manya gives herself credit for trying. At least she knows that she has opened up a door of possibilities for her parents to see society through her eyes.

“It’s a process,” Manya said, “I think that [parents] are open to change if you approach them the right way and you are patient because it will take a long time.”

It’s a process that has shown its benefits when Bala admits that he is proud of the way he and his wife have raised their children — even if they do have different beliefs.

“[Manya’s mother and I] have no regrets about the way we’ve brought [Manya and her sister] up.” Bala said, “We’re confident that both of [them] will be true to their roots while also being true to their everyday commitments and transactions in the world. They are Americans in every way, shape, and form, but in their core they are governed by values that are universal.”