Posts Tagged ‘Haitian parenting’

TONIGHT tune in for another brand new episode of Haitian AllStarZ Radio on WBAI 99.5 FM (Pacifica Radio) every Tuesday evening/ early Wednesday morning 12Midnight – 2:00am.
Tonight’s episode features LIVE in the studio special guest SMAX MUSIC originally from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. Smax Music’s sound is an eclectic mix of a variety of Caribbean Music and Rock.
Tune in to the “Blague” segment! Ingrid Austin-Daniels and Dina John of Corn Bread Cremasse with the latest blog post “Faux Haiti”. Call us at 718-780-8888.



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The following blog was submitted by Elikusa A.

As a middle school administrator in a very highly populated first generation American Community in Maryland, I am often reminded of many experiences of being raised as a first generation Haitian American  in Irvington, New Jersey in the late 80’s.  Here’s a comment  that my parents use to always say to my brother’s teachers when they found themselves in the school office for some disciplinary action, “If you do that again, I will send you back to Haiti.”  As a young child that meant something but by the time my brother got to middle school, he knew that wasn’t happening.  He knew it was just an empty threat but he continued to play the role in this melodrama.  He would act like he was scared (sometimes even cry) and that he learned his lesson and my parent’s walked out of the office feeling like they did something but of course they didn’t because within the next two weeks my parents were back in the school office.  I thought only my parents did this until I became the administrator who was calling parents from- Nigeria, Jamaica, Ghana and of course Haiti – and one after another they would say the same thing, “If you do that again, I will send you back to …. ” and their child would act like they learned their lesson but all I could do is laugh (inside) because I saw was my younger brother, who by this age knew what this meant.  For me I knew sooner or later I would see the same student back in my office.
What comments did your parents make to your teachers, to your principals or just to you when you got in trouble?   I would love to hear them.

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If tiger parents are “strict parents who demand excellence in academics and other extra-curricular activities from their children,” then I have TWO tiger parents. In fact, I know a lot of high achieving Haitian-Americans who are products of not Asian “tiger” parenting,but Haitian tiger parenting.

i am a tiger child

i am a tiger child

When the media was inundated with controversy about the whole “Tiger Mom” phenomenon, I didn’t quite know what the big deal was.  As an adult, I wasn’t traumatized by strict parenting.  I did know one thing, it’s not just an Asian thing.  Tiger parenting did not seem to be terribly different than how I was raised.  Although the Asian technique seemed to be even more strict than my parents’, the general philosophy seems to be the same. It apparently worked for me, and is really all I know. In fact, I still have Tiger in me, and it shows in my personal parenting style. I’m not totally opposed to western style parenting, but some of it is kind of weak to me. My parents didn’t always contemplate how I would react to their parenting style when I was a child. They assumed I was malleable and would easily adjust — which seemed to be exactly what happened.

Growing up, I knew my family was different. My parents were new to the country after all, so of course we were different. I figured when you leave everything you know and love, and move to a foreign country to raise a family for the first time, the stakes are high, and you don’t make silly mistakes like NOT trying – with every fiber of your being – to do your very best. My parents did their best to make it in America.  That was the example they set, and they expected no less from us.

And, yes, they were strict: I didn’t “sleep over”, I wasn’t able to stay up as late as I wanted, I couldn’t have a TV or phone in my room, I couldn’t come and go as I pleased, I had a curfew that I was never pleased with — and we didn’t even have call waiting!  All Haitian kids did not have the “pleasure” of tiger parenting, but I knew a good number who did. And although I know that strict American parents do exist, as a child, I personally didn’t know any American Tiger children. I hated being a tiger child as a teen, but in retrospect it taught me discipline, and helped me focus (because even I know how reckless I would have been with my very own phone), and I am still able to think back to my childhood with fond memories.

Education was, without a doubt, my most important “job” growing up since the first day of grammar grade. I learned early on that school was important and non-negotiable. Unless school was closed, I was going…and would do my best while there. The way I understood it, if I excelled in school, then life – back then, and in years to come — would be better. So that’s what I did. This didn’t happen without the help, encouragement — and sometimes the strong arming of my tiger parents. There were few times I remember that excellence was shoved down my throat against my will (like the time I had to memorize all the multiplication tables up to the 12 times table, and wasn’t allowed to go to bed until I knew them cold…and guess what, I learned them), but for the most part excellence was ingrained in me as something worth achieving. I was taught what the expectation was; I was taught that I was capable of achieving, and so I achieved (naturally, because that’s all I knew).

both my parents were involved in making sure i stayed on top of my work

Unlike the Asian tiger parenting style, I was not strongly encouraged to excel in extra curricular activities (it was all about education). However, because the lessons of striving for excellence and possessing the capability to achieve were so strongly ingrained in my psyche, I often did well in extracurricular activities too…so long as I was interested in that particular extra curricular activity.

The way I see it, Tiger parenting is based on two main factors: self-esteem and discipline. My Haitian tiger parents gave those two gifts to me… and I, a tiger child turned parent, will give them to my children as well. I have learned that achieving success has a lot to do with believing you can achieve. That’s half the battle. I expect my children to expect excellence of themselves, because I’m teaching them that they are capable, and I will give them the tools necessary to achieve that (one of which is discipline). If that makes me a Haitian-American tiger mom, so be it.

How did your Haitian parents’ “parenting style” differ from that of your American friends? How is your parenting style different or similar to that of our parents?

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gros morneOctober 29, 2014

by: Ashley Toussaint

She never talked about what had happened in Haiti. She never talked about why she left home. She did not mention her family much. As a result, I never met my maternal grandparents, my mother’s older sister or her younger brother. She had left Gros Morne, when she was in her late teens, for the Bahamas and then Miami, back in the early 1970s with my father….(Continue reading the original blog here: Gros Morne: The Other Side.)


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Growing up, if I ever wanted to go to an after school function, house party, or quite frankly anywhere without my haitian parents, I had to give them at least two weeks notice.

Haitian parents do not like to be ambushed with requests at the last minute. Never, I repeat never, call from a friend’s house asking for permission to do something that same day or you will be in some serious trouble when you get home. You already knew better not to even ask to sleepover. Although, the phone conversation may have ended politely, as soon as you walked through the door, you were facing a consequence. (See “Mete ou ajenou (Get on your knees)!”https://cornbreadandcremasse.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/mete-ou-ajenou-get-on-your-knees/ for the aftermath.)

So just like leaving a job, you need to give haitian parents ample time for notification and to process your request. You may also have to spend time explaining to them terms like ” pep rally”, ” calabash”, or “tailgating”. Not quite sure there is a word in kreyol for any of the aforementioned, but in any event just avoid discussing the attendance of members of the opposite sex. Keep in mind, after you’ve made the request, you had to make it your duty to constantly remind them up until the actual date of the event. If not, you had better be prepared to have them tell you, that they don’t recall you ever asking them, and that either the answer was no or they would back to you after discussing it over with each other. This usually was the kiss of death.

Personally, I had a strategy in presenting my two weeks notice. First, I asked the more lenient parent, which in my household was my dad. My dad didn’t care too much about the details, but I knew that when I needed a backup for when, not even if, my mom acted like I was telling her something she had never heard before, he had my back.

Next thing I had to do was discuss it with my mom, but in doing so I had to invoke the “ONE FRIEND” into the conversation.

You see, Haitian parents have your one friend that they like. They don’t like your friends in groups; just one. The one friend even knows your parents love them because they will even say to you ” Just tell them you are coming with me”. The qualifications of the “one friend” vary from parent to parent. For my parents, mostly my mom, she had to have never been seen hanging around boys. This clearly meant that she was ” loose”. Her appearance and overall presentation had to be always on point. This meant her hair had to be done and her clothes neatly pressed. If she were Haitian, she would receive bonus points, and quite frankly win by default. Just make sure that you are actually going with that friend because the fallout from lying on and about the friend is devastating. Take my word for it.

I really envied my friends who could just go places on short notice or better yet tell their parents after the fact. That was unheard of when I was growing up. How about you? Did you parents let you go to different things on short notice? Did you have to give notice way ahead of time like I did? Did they have the one friend they loved? Are you still friends? Were you the coveted friend? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

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Creole lessons empower the Haitian diaspora in the small Two Moon Art and House Cafe in Brooklyn by the founder of the Haitian Creole Language Institute of New York, Wynnie …

via Creole, Haiti’s Mother Tongue, Brings People Back to Their Roots.

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The following post was submitted by Ellen Thompson. Ellen is a Haitian-American medical professional living in Orlando, Florida with her husband and two children.


Plate&Fork- 032Throughout my years growing up as a Haitian child, my mother would fix us Haitian breakfast pretty much every morning. My mother had some rules when it came to breakfast. Always eat everything on your plate, never turn down any type of food and you can never eat a man’s food. We as woman were taught that we pile up the man’s plate and don’t eat off it. As I got older, I missed those home cooked breakfasts and I didn’t really cook them when I got on my own. After my grandmother passed away in 2011, my now husband Danny, my son and I went to New York for her funeral and I finally got a chance to have some of that home cooked breakfast that I haven’t had really since my mother moved back to New York a few years ago. But there was one thing I didn’t mention, my husband is a southern black man from North Carolina, who has never had a Haitian breakfast and his best idea of Haitian food is rice and beans.


As we traveled on the train from Orlando to New York, he asked a lot of questions about my family and how to act. This is the first time that he had met my family and he was really nervous. I figured he knew the rules, little did I know that I should have explained all of these principles to him. After we got into town and good night’s slept, we decided to have breakfast before we went into the city for a busy day. My mother fixed one of my favorites, Mais Moulin and avocado. I explained to my husband how excited I was to be having this when he asked me “Ellen, what does Mais Moulin taste like?” After thinking about what to say, the only thing that came to mind was Yellow Grits. Little did I know how much he loved Grits?

As we sat down at the table, my excitement grew as my mother fixed our plates and as she laid them down on the table, I saw my husband’s face look deflated like a balloon that lost its air. My mother hovered over us as we took the first few bites, as I took my bites the memories of growing up as a child flowed through my mind and the taste was incredible. When I turned and looked at Danny, it looked like the opened a present on Christmas morning expecting the one thing he asked for and ended up getting a pair of socks. My mother started speaking in Creole, he doesn’t like the food? Danny smiled and said its good Mrs. Michelle. Then Danny leaned over and said “Baby, this isn’t Grits, I have no idea what this is, but this isn’t’ Quaker.” I finished off my food like it was last supper and I looked over at Danny’s plate and he only had taken two bites. Looking a child who was looking for the family pet to come over to eat the food off his plate, I started to take some of his breakfast when my mother and aunt stopped me in my tracks. “Ellen, don’t eat Danny’s food” my mother said. “Danny is the man and he needs to eat all of his food.” He took another bite and he whispered in my ear, “This tastes like gravel and I can’t eat any of this anymore.” I told him that it’s disrespectful to not eat the food that is made and it’s insulting to say that the food is terrible. He explained that he would just have to eat it and that’s it. Danny had the look of a 3 year old was just told the word “No”. I grabbed small spoonful’s to help him out, but he had to put in the work to get it done.

After breakfast was done and we started out on our day, he told me that I only finished the food because I wanted my future mother-in-law not to dislike him at all. But he asked where the nearest pizza place on the way to the subway is.

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