Onwards and Upwards: Ambition threatens true love in this moving saga


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Fifty-one percent hold college degrees, compared with 31 percent of all adults. Indrakrishnan, 53, who also teaches at the Emory University School of Medicine, is something of a celebrity among South Asian immigrants — the sociable, civic-minded and highly successful professional everyone wants to schmooze with at the local Hindu temple each week.


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He lives with his wife, Gayathri, 49, a tax accountant, and their daughter, Harini, a high school senior, in a gated enclave on the banks of a glistening artificial lake, not far from the former residence of the football quarterback Michael Vick. Personal statements can be found throughout: in one corner, an elegant bronze sculpture of the Hindu deity Shiva ; in another, a bulbous-bodied stringed instrument called a Saraswati vina that Gayathri Indrakrishnan wishes she had more time to play; and in the basement, a custom-built studio where Harini practices Bharatanatyam, a highly structured, almost geometric form of classical Indian dance that has become a defining feature of her otherwise all-American life.

Her parents grew up in the same part of Sri Lanka and had friends, a family doctor and a cleaning woman in common. He flew to Toronto for a rendezvous.

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Indrakrishnan said. After they married and settled in the United States, Ms. Indrakrishnan traded microbiology for an M. She and her husband became American citizens a decade ago. The Census Bureau does not track the frequency of arranged marriages, but researchers believe the numbers are rising. Among other signs, they said, is the growing number of immigrant matchmaking websites like bharatmatrimony.

And though many Americans may bridle at the idea, studies suggest there is little downside to letting the family do your advance work. Indran and Gayathri Indrakrishnan independently identified the same key to long-lasting marital harmony. Many of Dr. Tolerance extends to their parenting style. Their expectations for Harini are quite high, but they care less whether she aces every class than that she is always trying, always seeking to improve. Harini, it seems, has absorbed the parental credo. When she sensed that Facebook was interfering with her schoolwork, she deactivated her account.

It is no secret that many Asian-American students excel academically; their average SAT scores, for example, are the highest of any ethnic group. But a long-term study of Chinese-American families suggests that view is nothing but a stereotype. The researchers, led by Su Yeong Kim , an associate professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, administered lengthy questionnaires to parents and children, asking about school, work, home life, grades, extracurricular activities and emotions.


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Kim said. With two children, the Glusacs may seem typical, but their story is more complicated.

The Indrakrishnan Family

A few years ago, she and her family participated in a landmark study by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles — a close anthropological look at the daily lives of 32 typical middle-class American families. She wears a long white skirt, black blouse, jeans jacket and a silver necklace, and is sitting on a plump aubergine couch in a comfortable, recently renovated postwar bungalow in Westchester, a solidly middle-class neighborhood not far from the Los Angeles airport.

On the typical side of the ledger: The average middle-class family has two children, and seated next to Ms. Glusac are her two children, Katie and Chris. Katie, 17, is a high school senior, a star of her cross-country and soccer teams, an intern at a local veterinary clinic and these days a captive player in that all-American combat sport called applying to college.

Chris, 21, is a Santa Monica College engineering student who still lives at home but plans to transfer next year to the University of California, Santa Barbara. Glusac says. Around 6 p. Glusac, who goes by the nickname Serg pronounced surge , was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia, but grew up in Montreal. He looks like the original from which Chris was cloned: the same mild face, the same fine, sandy hair. Glusac generally gets home an hour or two after his wife, a scheduling disparity common among two-career households: American men spend 35 to 55 minutes longer on the job each day than women do, while working mothers devote eight more hours a week to child care and housekeeping compared with working fathers.

Less typical is Mr. The family has had its share of frame shifts and body blows.

Glusac was treated for breast cancer eight years ago. In middle school, Chris became extremely introverted and barely left his room. Her parents were devastated. In the U.

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The investigators spent weeks with each family, staying in the background as they observed and recorded every aspect of home life: the banter, the spats, the struggles over homework and piano practice, the laundry, the meals. Arnold , a professor of anthropology. The researchers also particularized the centrality of the kitchen, where the largest and most visible clocks are displayed and where the greatest number of calendars, school memos and to-do lists are posted. Yet the lure of a festively pushpinned corkboard has its limits.

The researchers determined that even when all of the family members were at home and awake together, they were in the same room only 14 percent of the time. In a study of the after-school life of students in the Philadelphia area, Annette Lareau of the University of Pennsylvania and her colleagues found that virtually all the middle-class children remained as tightly scripted outside the classroom as they had been during the school day. Nowadays, the kids largely take care of themselves, Ms.

Wanting Marriage and Pursuit of Happiness.

Onwards and Upwards: Ambition threatens true love in this moving saga by Lynda Page

The clues to an American paradox, and family changes, can be found in the past. The American family began life in the raggedness of the Colonial era as a kind of organizational Swiss Army knife — many institutions in one convenient package. The home was a place of business, of relentless industry, where there was always more flax to spin and tallow to drip; all able-bodied family members from toddlerhood onward were expected to work for the family economy.

The home was a delivery ward, schoolroom, hospital and funeral parlor. And in an age before centralized government or even a reliable town sheriff, the home served as the primary locus of social control. As recently as the s, according to Andrew J. Cherlin , a professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University, unattached adults could arouse community ire.

Onwards and Upwards

Yet as a young nation of wide horizons and Powerball opportunities, America also encouraged a degree of footlooseness, a scorn for the settled and a yen for the new. That novelty-seeking spirit applied as much to conjugal matters as economic ones, and the divorce rate rose steadily along with the number of stars on the flag. By the turn of the 20th century, the United States had the highest divorce rate in the Western world, a title it retains to this day. Cherlin said. At the same time, we value our liberty, the pursuit of personal happiness and the right to leave a bad marriage behind.

Other factors helped give the American family its distinctive cast. As the population shifted westward and the distances between dwellings opened, Americans grew accustomed to a degree of privacy and personal space that few other earthlings could share. The passion for privacy accelerated as the Industrial Revolution pulled productive activity out of the house and into the factory, leaving the home as a private sanctum for the family. Americans went wild for the privatized family and family-themed activities: the family vacation, kiddie birthday parties, decorating the Christmas tree, and the ultimate American family holiday, Thanksgiving, signed into law by the man who saved the Union, Abraham Lincoln.

Industrialization and the entry of women into the work force changed the nature of marriage as well, from the pragmatic merging of skill sets that prevailed in the agricultural era to a relationship of choice based on friendship, personal compatibility and love. The trend has only intensified with time. Bonding From Behind Bars. The children of more than a million inmates are left to cope as best they can. One variant of the modern American family — sadly characteristic, if often ignored — is the family struggling with the impact of an incarcerated parent.

And of the estimated 2.

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That translates into 2. Some groups have been hit much harder than others. Families are left to cope as best they can, not only with the deafening absence, the economic hardship, the grief and loneliness that separation from a loved one can bring, but also with the stigma that accompanies a criminal conviction, the feelings of humiliation, debasement and failure.

Studies have shown that even accounting for factors like poverty, the children of incarcerated parents are at heightened risk of serious behavioral problems, of doing poorly in school or dropping out, of substance misuse, of getting in trouble with the law and starting the cycle anew. Poehlmann, who helped develop the tool kit. Nearly half the caregivers never talk about the imprisoned parent, while another third simply lie, Dr.

Poehlmann said.


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Caregivers are also often hesitant to take children to visit incarcerated parents, either out of fear the visit will be traumatic, or because the prison is usually in a remote rural area hours from public transportation. Whatever the reason, a vast majority of prisoners get no visits, from their children or anybody else, Dr. Women brought babies, children, teenagers and bags of quarters for the vending machines. Older children settled into seats beside their fathers, while younger ones played at kiddie tables in the corner.

Onwards and Upwards: Ambition threatens true love in this moving saga Onwards and Upwards: Ambition threatens true love in this moving saga
Onwards and Upwards: Ambition threatens true love in this moving saga Onwards and Upwards: Ambition threatens true love in this moving saga
Onwards and Upwards: Ambition threatens true love in this moving saga Onwards and Upwards: Ambition threatens true love in this moving saga
Onwards and Upwards: Ambition threatens true love in this moving saga Onwards and Upwards: Ambition threatens true love in this moving saga
Onwards and Upwards: Ambition threatens true love in this moving saga Onwards and Upwards: Ambition threatens true love in this moving saga

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