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Old January 1st, 2018, 11:29 PM   #1
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Where did the stigma that Americans (esp WASP) always lacked filial piety come from?


I found this thread.

https://www.reddit.com/r/AsianParent...st_generation/

And with a bit of research inspired from reading that I came across this.

Janie's Blog :: "There is no filial piety in America"

As someone of half Hispanic origin (specifically my paternal father came from Nicaragua), I recognized everything the reddit poster and the blog states. I hear from much of my Latino extended family about how kids in America are so rude, how many American white kids would get smacked in the face for their behavior back at home, etc.

However like the reddit post, I also hear comments that assume Americans were always the rude rebel type such as "people here must be rude because the country was founded by spoiled brats who didn't respect their family's wishes and were too greedy to pay taxes" (in reference to the Revolution) and stuff of that nature. Some of my relatives even frequently make comments about how they cannot believe George Washington was such a obedient child who decided not to enlist in the Navy because he didn't want to hurt his mother's feelings and such in accurate movies and biopics documentaries.

Even than historical works of fiction often show Americans as individualist minded who have no qualms about rebelling against the family as seen in Westerns and business themed movies.

I am wondering why this image of "rude disrespectful" and "rebel bad boy" Americans have come to dominate to the point so many people assume Americans never knew the concept of the 5th Commandment: "Honor they mother and Father"?

I mean for Christ sake the first truly (non-Indian) American religion, Mormonism, is so big on family structure and filial piety that it ranks only second to faith in God and the LDS church and there was a time certain sects within Mormonism actually expected followers to kill their children for disrespect (a crime only reserved for apostasy, blasphemy, murder, and rape).

If the first natively created white man's religion was so big on filial piety, how did America come to be a nation that historically was always "rebels and badboys"?

In particular how come WASP is the biggest target of this assumption? I mean The Godfather portrays Italian Americans as being the embodiment of filial piety but many of the WASP are shown as independent minded (particularly Michael's love Kay). Even though this was still a period of relative conservatism where bad manners on the dining table warrant a slap from your Methodist Grandma. The American Tale also portrays Russian immigrants in the same manner too.


I have seen many accounts in the past did indeed match the first link not just from my neighbors but in historical diaries and writings by Southerners during the Antebellum and Civil War periods that matches the reddit links description of expected manners towards the parents and elderly.

Its not just the South, many cowboy and homesteaders had a "Confucianesque" sort of family structure and respect for your legal guardians as I started reading about Texas, Wyoming, and especially Utah and their social history.

Its not gone either. I live near the Appalachian and man I have never seen people so subservient to their elders (not just ma and pa but grandma, great uncle Chuck, etc). You'd think you were living in China with the way they treat elders with reverence.

Can any body explain how America got so entwined with rebellion, independence, and standing up against parents that people assume the country was always like this (and why many historical movies, novels,etc inaccurately show people like this even in time period and regions where family structure and the 5th commandments was strong)?
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 02:02 AM   #2

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Minorities like to think they are special.
So Greeks, Irish, Scottish, Russian, Mexican. Some families are close some are not.

I swore at my mother once. And took a hand to the face for it. I never swore at my dad.
I did what I was told? Had chores and was not spoilt.
The few families I knew not like that my parents considered .... bad/broken.
We had tea together every evening and Sunday dinner was always together.
And I’m English.

Maybe American families are different. But if it is it’s an American thing not a racial heritage thing.
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 02:10 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edric Streona View Post
Minorities like to think they are special.
So Greeks, Irish, Scottish, Russian, Mexican. Some families are close some are not.

I swore at my mother once. And took a hand to the face for it. I never swore at my dad.
I did what I was told? Had chores and was not spoilt.
The few families I knew not like that my parents considered .... bad/broken.
We had tea together every evening and Sunday dinner was always together.
And Iím English.

Maybe American families are different. But if it is itís an American thing not a racial heritage thing.
If you swear at your parents in black families, it was quite common to be smacked in the face.

Italian AMericans take care of their elderly.

Hell Mormons who came originally from WASP thought respect to one's parent was a sacred duty, the most important after community and God.

Even among WASP, many Southerners and Western cowboyish regions have a patriarchal structure that could be labeled "Confucianist".

With that said the Englisha re also freequentlys tereotyped as rebellious in foreign media esp India. Got any comment on that (just my curiosity)?
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 05:56 AM   #4

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Can’t really comment.
I had both parents, and a fairly strict upbringing until I was in my late teens when they cut me more slack.

Bad behavior is a problem in some British schools compared to some Indian ones. But a lot of it is over hyped. My school was a comprehensive in a mixed class area. Some families were very wealthy. Some were very poor. Most like mine were were in the middle. The worst kids usually came from very rich or very poor families. But since I stuck to my circle of friends and kept out of trouble I couldn’t comment on their family lives. Not that all the rich and poor kids were problems, most were sound. But the worst were always spoilt rich kids or the kids who lived in the “rough” parts of town.

How this compares to India I don’t know.
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 05:59 AM   #5
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I've noticed that some wealthy parents (not just in America) use that wealth as leverage over their children, using the threat of disinheritance to extract obedience.

In America there's a strong tradition of being a self-made man, of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps to be more successful than your parents were.

We might be losing that reverence for the self-made man. Consider the growing number of presidents who come from old money.
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 08:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chlodio View Post
I've noticed that some wealthy parents (not just in America) use that wealth as leverage over their children, using the threat of disinheritance to extract obedience.

In America there's a strong tradition of being a self-made man, of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps to be more successful than your parents were.

We might be losing that reverence for the self-made man. Consider the growing number of presidents who come from old money.
Have you read the OP or any of the links in it? Your claim of the "reverance for Self-made man" in American culture is exactly the criticism many Chinese and Hispanic makes towards the country as far as respect to parents go.

Ignoring how much of American history, Americans acted very structural in a Confucianist sense with respect towards elders (especially in remote regions such as the Deep South). And you can still find many subcultures and regions that still do such as the Utah Mormons and Cajuns.

Hence why I wonder why America got the image of disrespectful billy bad boy and rebels in its entire existence (because early history shows Americans were anything but, in fact being the opposite-George Washington decided not to enlist in the navy for example out of filial respect for his mother).
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 10:03 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrangler29 View Post
Have you read the OP or any of the links in it? Your claim of the "reverance for Self-made man" in American culture is exactly the criticism many Chinese and Hispanic makes towards the country as far as respect to parents go.

Ignoring how much of American history, Americans acted very structural in a Confucianist sense with respect towards elders (especially in remote regions such as the Deep South). And you can still find many subcultures and regions that still do such as the Utah Mormons and Cajuns.

Hence why I wonder why America got the image of disrespectful billy bad boy and rebels in its entire existence (because early history shows Americans were anything but, in fact being the opposite-George Washington decided not to enlist in the navy for example out of filial respect for his mother).

That's the danger of long posts in chat rooms. The chat environment encourages short attention spans. If you want people to understand your thesis, you might consider shortening your OPs.

If your thesis is that 'Americans have always respected their parents and their reputation as bad boys who disrespect their parents is undeserved,' then I must disagree with you. I rarely find an unusually high degree of parental respect in American history. I don't consider Mormons, Cajuns, or recent Italian immigrants to be representative of the American mainstream. American men have always been encouraged to 'make your mark in the world' by in part by distancing one's self from one's parents and establishing an independent identity.

Washington's relationship with his mother was not typical as his father was dead and George was his mother's oldest son. To some extent he was the man of the house with paternal responsibilities to his younger siblings. His decision to stay at home may not have been that of an obedient son but rather that of a man with responsibilities. (I know he was only about 15 or so at the time.) My point being that where you see parental respect or the lack thereof can be interpretted in different ways.

In some parts of the South and to a lesser extent the West, where the tradition of settling disputes via the feud ran strong, then yes, familial bonds tended to be stronger. Families were the best protection from other, hostile families, but this is not indicative of parental respect as strong bonds also existed between siblings, cousins, and other relations.

Last edited by Chlodio; January 2nd, 2018 at 10:06 AM.
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 11:05 AM   #8
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@ Chlodio

Keep in mind by Italian Americans, I'm not referring to immigrants but to people who've been living here since birth and whose first generation in the family came as far as early 1900s (if not even Civil War).

However even today the WASPSED Americans of Italian descent still take care of their parents when they reach elderly age (despite family ancestral line already having assimilited into mainstream America as far as 1890s).

I'll respond to the rest of your post later after lunch break. I'm at work right now so I can't continue this conversation until later but I just felt I had to clarify what I meant by Italian American (which I mean by descendents of immigrants at least three generations ago, not recent arrivals by boat or more accurately airplane).
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 11:14 AM   #9

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Perhaps it's because America is a very diverse place, and some immigrants who settled here maintained the norms and values of their original cultures, their children and children's children had to learn what it was to be an American. Things cluld be difficult as they integrated into the big experiment, and were exposed to diverse ideas. I'm not sure, but I suspect this led to the rebellious youth culture movements in America, as America redefined itself and found its way.

Last edited by Todd Feinman; January 2nd, 2018 at 11:55 AM.
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 11:31 AM   #10

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I think family ties are weakening everywhere around the globe, and if they have weakened faster in America, its probably because the USA has been the primary driver of modern global culture since WWII.

I think in many ways the advance of technology has had an effect on the treatment of elders. In previous ages elders exuded wisdom because they had a lifetime of relevant experience to reflect on. Today, instead of wisdom, elders seem to exude backwardness and confusion, because much of their life experience and lessons learned no longer apply to the techno-landscape, and this discourages youth from taking them seriously.

Last edited by Pacific_Victory; January 2nd, 2018 at 11:47 AM.
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