Making Sure My Kids Understand the Great Responsibility of Being Haitian-American
April 14, 2013 by Ingrid
Post submitted by Woody Anglade, Attorney
I am a first-generation Haitian-American who was raised by traditional Haitian parents. My parents were strict, tough, and no-nonsense. They had high expectations for me and my siblings and made it clear to us that failure was not an option. They taught me discipline, hard work, and sacrifice. I know that I would never be the person I am today without my parents. I owe everything to them. Therefore, one would assume that I should have no problem passing on the same morals and values to my two children. One would also assume that my children will also appreciate what it means to be Haitian-American and the great responsibility that comes along with it. Yet, I find myself wondering if my children will get it.
When I was a child, I understood early on what it meant to be Haitian-American and to be raised by Haitian parents. I knew that Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and that life for most Haitians was a daily struggle. This is why I understood why my parents were so hard on me. I was fortunate enough to have Haitian parents who came to America with nothing, but worked very hard to give me the type of opportunities that most kids in Haiti never get. They made me understand the great responsibility that came with being Haitian-American and that I should never take my opportunities for granted. I could not fail. I had to succeed. Because my parents sacrificed for me, it was my responsibility to make something of myself.
Today, I have a wonderful wife and two great kids. However, we live in an area where there are very few Haitians and no family members in the area. I am concerned that my children will not grow up with the same appreciation for the struggles and sacrifice that so many Haitian-American parents such as my parents went through to provide a better life for their children. I am also concerned that they will not understand the importance of not taking opportunities for granted because the majority of children in Haiti do not get the same opportunities. How can my children have the same appreciation of being Haitian-American as I did with the lack of Haitian presence where they live? How can they have the same appreciation of being Haitian-American if they never witnessed the type of struggle and sacrifice that their Haitian grandparents went through?
Nonetheless, despite the challenges and concerns I have raised, I must teach my children the same values of discipline, hard work, and sacrifice that my parents taught me. I must explain to my kids early on about the hardships that most Haitians living in Haiti face. It is now my job to ensure that my kids understand the great responsibility of being Haitian-American and to not take for granted the limitless opportunities available to them.