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Mercury News: Skits Seek to Soften Asian Parental Expectations

A new workshop that includes vignettes on Asian parental expectations is making its way around the San Francisco Bay Area to good reviews.

The Mercury News reports the workshops produced by psychiatrists from Stanford University is especially timely given that four of the last nine suicides of Palo Alto youth were Asian.

Not coincidentally, Stanford is located in Palo Alto.

“Of course we worry. Why is this happening in our area?” said Ann Xu, who runs the Chinese-Language Parent Network at Gunn High in Palo Alto. “That’s a really complicated issue.”

Any number of suicides is too many, but through 2013, the latest statistics available show that the rate of suicides of Asian teens ranks below the rate of suicide of White teens. Yet the symptoms remain troublesome with college bound students showing high levels of depression, anxiety and self destructive behavior.

Efforts to eliminate these symptoms have caused tensions between Asian parents and schools. Saratoga High School earlier this year pushed back its start time to give their students more sleep. It also shaved five minutes from each class period leading to concerns from Asian parents that the plan was an attack on academic rigor. A committee that helped come up with the ideas consisted of no Asian American parents even though Asians make up the majority of the school district. The uproar over the plan forced the district to back away from the idea.

“I’m trying to tell parents, ‘Don’t look at your kids as a project,” said former Fremont schools trustee Ivy Wu. “Help them develop their potential, but don’t insist on your terms. Your kids don’t have to go to an Ivy League school.”

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