The Generational Cycle of Immigrants’ Priorities in Life

On January 11, my older son married at the ripe age of 24 to a wonderful girl from Vietnam. It was an emotional day for sure (well, I definitely felt a lot older) but we’re all confident that this union is the right thing for both of them.

Among many other reasons, I’m very happy that she will soon be a first-generation immigrant. My son, for all intents and purposes,, is third-generation. My father (first-generation) currently struggles a bit with his retirement because he has no hobbles and have only known work. I’ve had the privilege of witnessing my parents’ hard work and sacrifices growing up in an immigrant family but was also able to assimilate into the American lifestyle to learn to enjoy leisure as well. While us second generation are driven to over-achieve from the pressure and example from our parents, my children (third-generation) have never seen economy struggles first hand. Therefore, they take the family’s relatively monetary success for granted and are heavily influenced by their peers who also come from high-achieving families. Opposite of my father, this generation has a lot of hobbies and may not know how to work (speaking here only figuratively).

The third-generation is neither incapable nor innately lazy. They just have different priorities and many times do not see the merit of blind ambition in a career. They tend to be experiential and not materialistic.

Once in talking to  a board member of one of my companies, this very successful and wealthy British gentleman explained in a very matter-of-fact manner that this has been a recurring generational cycle in Great Brittain for centuries. His insinuation was that there is nothing I could really do about it. As a driven second-generation immigrant this was hard to accept.

Now, as wonderful as my new daughter-in-law is in so many ways, I do see her unabated drive and optimism as a great complement to his laid-back approach to life. May God bless their lives together.