Incorporating the traditions and culture of their heritage into their parenting style is part of the package when Asian American and biracial couples start their families.
Adding additional layers to an already busy lifestyle, these parents must find a balance between the times we live in and the culture of their ancestors.
Trying to get a young married professional with young children to give you the time of day is a tricky process. Juggling work, marriage and children is difficult enough on its own, without a reporter pestering them to answer a few questions.
The only free time Joe Trieu had to speak with me was early on a Saturday morning, during a break in coaching high school wrestling, a fact that is testament to how busy these parents are.
“We do have a busy schedule, and we kind of expected the busyness,” Trieu said. He added, “My wife’s in dental school and I have my own business. I run a beauty school, Evergreen Beauty and Barber College, and then also I am a wrestling coach.”
Joe and Tammy Trieu, a Vietnamese couple who recently bought their first house in Mountlake Terrace, are the proud parents of a 3-week-old son, Nathaniel.
“I remember like, the third day I had him. He’s usually a pretty strong baby and he was a lot limper and looser and it freaked me out. I thought he was going to die,” Trieu said. “Your whole entire life just kind of stops.”
While worries and sleepless nights are common for the majority of new parents, new Asian American parents also face decisions on how to integrate their heritage into the lives of their children.
“We definitely want our kid to be bilingual,” Trieu said. “We only speak to him in Vietnamese right now; he can learn English when he gets to public school.”
Kimberly Lim, who is Cambodian, and her husband, Scott Raymond, who is Caucasian and Native American, have an 11-month-old son named Oliver. For Lim, currently working as a part-time accountant, she agrees the hardest thing about being a new parent is learning to juggle everything.
“We both knew it would be hard, but we didn’t exactly realize how hard it really is,” said Lim. “There is honestly no way to describe raising and being responsible for another being as well as the shift in our schedules and priorities.”
As for incorporating Oliver’s heritage into his upbringing, the couple has discussed enrolling their son in Cambodian school once he is old enough.
“We also plan to take him to Asia and Europe in the next few years, as soon as he is potty-trained, so that he will understand different cultures,” Lim said.
For parents Mary and Jeff Raymond, a Cambodian and Caucasian couple, the second time around was more relaxed. Having already gone through the new parent experience with their 4-year-old son Devon, raising their 3-month-old girl Hayden has been easier.
“The first time around,” Mary Raymond said, “no one knows what to expect, even if you’re given lots of advice.” She added that one will never really know until they have a child and don’t get any sleep.
According to Raymond, the way you were brought up, whether Asian American or Caucasian, will influence how you raise your child.
“Whatever it is that you see your parents doing, you will probably tend to veer towards the same style. If it was frustrating, you would try to stay away from it,” Raymond added.
For another local biracial couple, An and Angella Ly, incorporating their 23-month-old daughter Sasha’s Vietnamese heritage into her life has taken many forms.
“Her birthday is going to be Tet-themed,” Angella Ly said. “Tet” referring to the Vietnamese Lunar New Year.
“We’re doing it all in red, and she has a cute little outfit to wear,” she added.
All of the parents interviewed agreed that as an Asian American or biracial couple, they recognize that they have a lot of familial support.
“As an Asian American parent, I’ve learned that listening to our parents has proven pretty useful,” Lim said. “New parents should take any help that they are offered. This includes babysitting and advice.”