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April 7, 2011

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After all these years, the thread is still active. Some were sure it was unambiguous, and now the consensus seems to be that it's ambiguous. But I still have no clue what generation I am, my children are, or my parents or grandparents are.

My wife was born in Vietnam. I was born in NYC. My children are children of an immigrant parent, making them first, or second generation according to some of what this thread says. My father was born in the US. My mom comes from France. Both of my parents are children of immigrants.

So my children have an immigrant parent, I have an immigrant parent, and my father has immigrant parents. My children have an American born father and an American born grandfather, and I have an American born father.

My conclusion is that my father is a first generation American and a second generation American. His parents were first generation or not any generation. I am first generation, and second and third generation. My children are first, second, third, and fourth generation.

I could make a case for any of these generations based on specific definitions in this thread. Or I could come to the opposite conclusion. If I take the term "parents" (plural) as a literal requirement, then my children and I can't claim to have (two) parents who were immigrants, and can't claim to have (two) parents who were born in the US. That would mean that none of the above apply and I'm not any generation American, and neither are my kids. If any of the definitions apply to a parent (singular), it's not apparent.

Does it make sense to say my children are first generation on their mother's side? Are they fourth generation Americans who happen to be children of an immigrant parent, and raised in a home with a cultural background that comes from abroad?

All I know is that my children are the third generation in my family born in the US to an immigrant parent and the second generation born to a US born parent. So should I add 2.5 generation to the list? That leaves five answers for my children. If you thought two was bad, five is worse. The good news is that if I average all five, I still get 2.5 so I can add that to the list again, call it the mode, and go with it.

As far as college goes, my grandfather could not afford to finish it. So my kids will be the fourth generation to attend college in the US, and the third to graduate.