Competition in the Desi Community

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Considering I am the eldest daughter in a semi-traditional Desi family, being the victim of a brutal comparison to some other kid is not new to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure children from different backgrounds deal with the same thing, but for some reason, it seems more prominent in Desi families. How many of you have arrived home with a 98% in Math; you proudly present it to your parents. You expect praise, yet the only response is a “What happened to the other 2 points?”

My parents have very strict standards; not only must every one of my classes be an Honors class (along with a few AP classes thrown in), but if I come home with anything below a 90, I can expect my allowance revoked, accompanied with a severe grounding, not to mention a constant reminding of how so-and-so’s daughter is the top of her class, well on her way to Princeton to become a heart surgeon. Honestly, have any of you ever wondered that maybe the only reason parents want us to do well in school is so they can brag to the other aunties and uncles? Maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic here…children don’t listen to me, your mummy and daddy want you to do well in school so you can make something of yourself (preferably something along the lines of a doctor, engineer or lawyer).

I don’t have any complaint with their desire for us to succeed; it’s the competition they force us into. What does it matter if I have a 95% and so-and-so’s daughter has a 97%? I tell myself that when I grow up, I never want to put my children through this type of pressure…but will I? Has this need for competition been instilled in me as well? Will my children come home afraid to show me their grades? Hopefully not, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be allowed to slack off; they’re going to have to work just as hard as I do. It’s only fair; besides we have to keep the tradition going.

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