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Forums / Multicultural experiences / How to decipher between culturally acceptable behavior and problematic behavior?

Topic: How to decipher between culturally acceptable behavior and problematic behavior?

5 posts, 0 answered
  1. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    9 March 2018

    Hello all,

    I have an Indian family living directly downstairs from my apartment. We are friendly with each other and in the odd ocassion we might borrow some sugar or a lemon etc. A couple of times we have had a cup of tea and/or visits. The family, young couple with a baby, have their elderly parents live with them. It’s a very small two bedroom place. The sounds of the baby crying mixed with music from Bollywood movies (the tv is always very loud), and laughter often mingles with conversations and the delicious curry smell that permeates the building.

    Not sure if this is the elderly couple’s home and the young family has moved in or vice versa. There is also a younger brother (not sure if he’s the young mother’s brother or the father’s) that either lives there or visits and stays often. I have met him a few times and his manner varies dramatically from friendly to indifferent to overpowering and challenging. I’m not sure if it’s the lack of English or lacking in social skills but there’s definitely something odd in his demeanor. Here and there you can hear shouting and what sounds like arguments in another tongue. Again, not clear from whom.

    The other day I was returning a washed plate, from a delicious meal they had prepared and offered me a taste to thank me for bringing them a plate of moussaka that I had cooked, and the younger son happened to open the door. He seemed aggressive and his behavior/mannerisms and language were a bit intimidating. I certainly was taken aback! The look in his eyes scared me and he was saying something in a language I couldn’t understand. The others in the household seemed to carry on as normal and ignored him but I just couldn’t stop thinking about it afterwards. I was pondering if I should say anything. Ask them. Or if this may not be appropriate and I come across as intruding.

    They seem nice people, hospitable and caring. Overall it’s great having them as neighbors. Always smiling and gesturing in a friendly manner. Their flat door is always wide open and as you walk up or down the stairs you cannot not sense their presence in the building.

    I’m just not sure anymore after this incident how to approach them. Should I continue as usual, as if I’m not bothered or worried, as if this incident didn’t affect me? I’m not clear if they need support either. Or if the young man has mental health issues that are undiagnosed or not managed properly.

    Any ideas? Is this culturally acceptable or is intervention required?

    1 person found this helpful
  2. PamelaR
    Champion Alumni
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    PamelaR avatar
    2740 posts
    9 March 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Hi Donte

    You always have such good threads. This one is so difficult though. It's hard when you don't know culturally what's happening. Not sure if any of our readers are from that background and can provide any insight.

    I'm assuming you've already thought of ways to solve what you see as the issues.... maybe what I say is just reiterating these. E.g. have you thought about inviting the elderly couple (or young couple) to your place for afternoon tea? While they're there you could talk about how you are 'feeling',i.e. what happened the other night and ask about the young person? Maybe you're not comfortable with that? Can't think of any alternatives.

    To be honest, I've recently had issues of my own with a family from NZ that live next door and the very noisy arguments they have. The neighbour below me rang the police because she was concerned about domestic violence. Having known the Maori family for some time I was sure it was 'just' loud voices. However, following that particular altercation, I hadn't see the wife and new born for over a month or more and was so worried about their welfare. I was catastrophising all sorts of scenarios. This week everything was revealed, the baby was being isolated from the measles. Daahhh. All that worry. Lesson for me - talk to my neighbours!!

    1 person found this helpful
  3. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    9 March 2018 in reply to PamelaR

    Hello PamelaR,

    Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoy my threads. I’m also happy that you can share your similar experience about the Maori family you had next door.

    It is difficult to know yes. I was tormented all day thinking about it and was getting angry. Finally talked to a friend today who validated that this was unacceptable and aggressive behavior and I have every right to feel unsettled about it. He suggested I minimize my interaction with this family but I’m not convinced that this is the best approach. After all, they haven’t done anything and I’m not sure how they personally feel about the son’s behavior. The fact that he’s not there all the time and I usually don’t engage with him makes it easier but also more complicated simultaneously.

    Interestingly enough another neighbor I met today on the corridor was talking to me about her feelings in regards to this son. He seems to ignore her down the street but other times he’s friendly and approachable, then he’s distant again and she isn’t sure what’s going on or if she’s done something to deserve this treatment.

    I told her my experience and we concluded perhaps is not us. Perhaps it’s him. Still not sure if I want to involve others though. It is a tough one....

    1 person found this helpful
  4. PamelaR
    Champion Alumni
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    PamelaR avatar
    2740 posts
    9 March 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Wow Donte, of course it's not your problem/issue. It is obviously the young person's behaviour that's causing issues. I know your feeling of being adverse to involving others. I just couldn't bring myself to knock on the neighbour's door to see how she was. I'm sorry now that I didn't. It would have stopped my month of angst 😔

    1 person found this helpful
  5. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
    • Foundation members of our Multicultural Experiences section
    • Greece
    • LGBTI
    Donte' avatar
    845 posts
    11 March 2018 in reply to PamelaR

    Hi PamelaR,

    Interestingly enough the husband approached me this morning when we bumped into each other in the car park.

    As if they read my mind!

    He apologized about the behavior of his young brother. He told me the family was not happy with the aggressiveness he displayed towards me without any reason and that they were very embarrassed about his behavior. He wanted me to know that they had a chat afterwards and he agreed that this wasn’t right. He told me that his brother has a lot of mental health problems and he’s often in and out of clinics and hostels. He was thrown out of the supported accommodation for his aggressive behavior and causing trouble with other tenants and he now stays with them temporarily as he’s practically homeless.

    Apparently he gets an injection every few weeks and that keeps him calm and he can function better but when it wears off or at periods when he refuses to continue with his treatment his personality changes and a few times the C.A.T. Team and police had to come out.

    He asked me to forgive him and the whole family feels shame about the situation.

    I thanked him sincerely for talking to me about it and told him that indeed I felt awkward and kind of intimidated but didn’t want to upset him or the family so I didn’t say anything. I also told him that it was a good thing that they talked about this and my concern is for his health mostly and the safety of the others around him. I asked him if I could support in any way but it seems at the moment everything is under control. He has a case manager and housing officer and frequent medical interventions.

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