How culture affects the youth’s view of healthy relationships
Editor’s Note: The following essay won second place in the high school division of the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence 2022 Know Your Worth Essay Competition. The author seeks to describe how she thinks culture affects the way the CNMI youth view healthy relationships and dating violence.
The CNMI comprises cultures such as Chamorro, Carolinian, Korean, Filipino, and much more. From there may come different outlooks concerning general matters with relationships. Adolescents are influenced by the cultural ideals of individuals who are most accessible to them, such as close family. When young people become unaware of pitfalls in a relationship, they can become victims of dating violence and unhealthy relationship dynamics. Though not always intentional, cultural viewpoints may leave youth to discover relationships without knowing the characteristics of healthy relations. When young people don’t have these outlets and environments to have open and accepting discussions about relationships, they are likely to be affected by unhealthy relationships and dating violence.
Firstly, the initial values instilled in a person come from the teachings derived from a culture’s values. So, for example, it may be from pushing the importance of religion within one’s own life or viewed as having more weight or power within a family. And when it comes to relationships, the influences that one’s culture may have can lead to both positive and negative experiences. So while one can have positive experiences that help one mature and grow more, there can be negative experiences that one may have due to their culture. For example, when culture is influenced by religion, one can experience a lack of self-value or respect due to their sexuality, leading to pitfalls such as age gaps and dating violence.
Secondly, cultural factors play a significant role in a person’s values. For some cultures, there are no expectations; others instill presumptions that form their approach to relationships. The different ideas, speed, attitude, and even financial investment, initiate the approach, which may come across different cultures.
When comparing a 13-year-old female to a male, some cultures believe that a female would be too young to experience any relationship but allow the male to engage in a relationship. This double standard leaves many female adolescents unaware of how a relationship should function. Some adolescents’ lack of knowledge often leads to toxic relationship patterns and behaviors. Adolescents oblivious to healthy and unhealthy relationships can progress further to falling victim to both verbal and physical abuse. In addition, some cultures’ attitudes toward youth lead to unacceptable qualities and toxic relationships.
In my experiences of having a relationship while mindful of the dating precepts of my family’s culture, it was hard to navigate relationships. I always felt like I was dealing with them on my own. My parents’ failure to advise and instill healthy behaviors and expectations has led me to experience immense heartache. Psychological effects would have been more avoidable with open-minded discussions about relationships.
To conclude, culture and the values derived and further instilled in a person shape their understanding of how one should conduct oneself regarding relationships. When it comes to its effect on the youth regarding teen dating, the influences of one’s culture, lack of guidance/role models will ultimately lead to the expense of the adolescent.
FIONA MARIELLE BUCALIG (Special to the Saipan Tribune)
Fiona Marielle Bucalig is a student of Mount Carmel School.