As the world is becoming both more diverse but culturally blended , which, in my opinion, is such a beautiful thing, we are all trying to learn to navigate having more than one culture in our homes. A few weeks ago I talked about blending an interracial, intercultural family. I worked on that post with my husband to make sure both sides were covered. Having an interracial/intercultural marriage is hard enough (although completely rewarding as well!) adding kids to the mix can make it tricky!
For example, my husband isn’t a very sentimental guy. Honoring traditions aren’t necessarily a priority for him. He has fond memories of things he did with his family when he was young, but only typically recalls them when I ask him. Therefore, it makes it difficult for me to implement Bahamian traditions because I’m not familiar with them and have no memory of them. But it is important to him that his kids know The Bahamas as more than a vacation island, so he’s started to make more of an effort. Together we’ve worked on some ways to integrate both cultures into our lives. Maybe a few of the things we do might help you too.
Raising Kids while Honoring Two Cultures
Celebrate both Holidays
I know this may sound overwhelming. As if Americans don’t have enough celebrating to do, let’s add another country’s celebrations to the list! But maybe, instead of adding, choose! Choose the holidays that are important to each parent/culture and celebrate those. Try to do it in the most authentic way possible even if you’re not living in that culture and/or don’t have the option to travel there. We’ll talk more about blending cultures during the holidays next time I’m here.
I think it’s a fun idea to discover the culture together as a family. For example, my kids are mostly American because we don’t get to spend as much time in The Bahamas as we wish. My husband is able to talk about things from his childhood, including playing some very typical Bahamian songs for the kids. The kids sing with him and now it’s something they all enjoy together. It’s become a regular part of our family. Now they have a list of songs they constantly request, “Daddy, play ‘just cuz she’s fat’!” (Yes, that is a Bahamian song…)
Find Like Minds
I know it could be hard depending on what culture you celebrate and where you live, but try to find families who are learning to navigate this world as well. If they’re from the same culture as one parent, even better! But even if not, I bet there are still some things that each family can learn from the other about how to ensure both cultures are honored.
Oh yes, food! It’s funny how something that is such a basic necessity of life can bring back so many memories and be attached to so many feelings all at once. I just returned from Eastern Europe and tasting the many cultural meals was one of my favorite parts. Food can be an amazing way to introduce your kids to the lesser represented culture. Bahamians fry a lot of fish and other items that can unfortunately only be found in The Bahamas. However, I do try, especially on special occasions, to cook some of my husband’s favorite dishes…specifically the meals that don’t require a food I can’t find close to home. He is beyond appreciative for my efforts, our kids are trying and experiencing something new and learning about dad’s culture as well. It’s a win for everyone. Except for maybe me, who has to do the dishes… (kidding!)
Kids love movies. As we discussed this when I talked about teaching kids a second language. Movies and YouTube videos are high on the list. Children enjoy them and it barely registers that they are ‘learning’. Try to find kid’s movies that focus on one culture or the other. If possible, target the culture where you don’t live.The extra benefit is, kids will be entertained while mom or dad get to share a little piece of their childhood with their kids.
Finally, and the the most obvious component, incorporate traditions from both sides. For Christmas, what’s the big meal you have? When do you open presents? What do you do during the day as a family? For Easter, do you look for eggs? Is there even an Easter basket? Presents or no? Find the traditions most important to the parents and incorporate them into your holidays. Your kids, without even knowing it, will be immersed in both cultures right away. As they grow up, a ‘combined’ culture will simply be how they celebrate and therefore, how they eventually how they teach their families
I think the most important part is that you try. Like I mentioned before, not one culture is better than the other, just different, and your kids growing up seeing that will benefit immensely! Interracial, intercultural families are a beautiful thing and lives blended with such rich traditions is a really neat experience! Embrace both sides of culture in your lives and it will carry over into your kids lives. I think they will appreciate it as they get older as it opens their eyes more to the world and the beauty there is in our differences.
Do you come from an intercultural or interracial relationship? What are some tips you have about sharing these cultures with your kids?