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Feeling a little sad DS will mostly be removed from cultural background

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Sorry for the long title... Hi there! I've never posted to this particular board before.

 

So, I'm 2nd generation American... sort of. Or 3rd depending on how you keep track. But I'm also mixed. Latina & European. I look pretty white & grew up pretty much Americanized. But I've always been close with my grandparents & culturally I've identified strongly with my two "cultures." It's a big part of who I am.

 

I can't help but feel a tinge of sadness at the thought that DS is & will be removed from his cultural heritage. DH is white & DS is blond & green-eyed. And my parents are totally Americanized... so DS won't have the same opportunities for visiting the countries where my grandparents are from. I will obviously expose him to some things... like foods that I can cook, music, etc. It took me long enough to figure out where I "belonged" since I always felt a little out of place being mixed & DS will belong even less.

 

I think I'm just coming to terms with DS being separate from me (mother's version of separation anxiety!) and having a completely different identity. It's not like I want to push anything on him. I also am realizing that this is more & more the face of America... when it's not so strange to be mixed anymore (as it was considered odd even for me growing up) & everyone is a little bit of everything... or at least many people are. Which I mostly think is really cool.

 

Anyone in a similar situation? How do you introduce parts of your cultural heritage in a way that won't make your LOs resent it?

post #2 of 13

I get what you're saying OP.  I've been doing some genealogy while my grandmothers are still living, recording their stories, location of their homes, etc.  When my DD is older we might not have any immediate relatives still living there, but I think it will still be cool that she and her children will have that knowledge and can still visit the old family home or say, "Hey that where my grandmother went to school."  YK?  Otherwise, I make sure to speak to DD in Portuguese when we're alone or with my extended family and she loves dancing so I've taught her some traditional dances, we listen to the music, I tell her the fairy tells  and I make sure to take her to as many cultural events as possible.  She's only 3 so she' pretty much up for anything fun.

post #3 of 13


Hi, I or we are definitely in a similar situation!

 

I am also half Latina and half European. Since neither of my parents spoke each other’s language,    English was the language at home. Actually because my mother was born in the States and all her education was in English, her Spanish is not perfect anyway although she spoke it to her parents. Her parents, my grandparents spoke very broken English, so even though they tried speaking to it to me, I ending up understanding a lot of Spanish anyway.   I don’t know how it was for you, but growing up I always felt like neither Hispanics, Germans or Americans totally accepted me as one of their own. I think this may be why many of my good friends are of other backgrounds, Asian, Middle Eastern, Southern European, although I certainly did not consciously chose them out as friends because of their ethnic backgrounds. I kind of fit in everywhere but at the same nowhere 100%.

 DH is Lebanese, born there raised there until he was 17  before moving to Canada.(he is what brought me to Canada) Since DH has family here, I was pretty sure that my son now 13, would be more in touch with his Lebanese heritage, especially since I have no family here and am mixed anyway. I cook mostly Lebanese and Mexican food at home but aside from that, and seeing his grandmother and cousins about once a year; DS does not get much from my side.

The funny thing is now that he is a little older he seems to gravitate towards everything Latin and European! He wants to learn both German and Spanish.   Because he plays soccer he knows a lot about all the different soccer teams from Germany and all the Spanish speaking countries. He is very interested! So even though he feels Canadian (and American) he also feels a connection to his entire heritage. 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by t2009 View Post

Sorry for the long title... Hi there! I've never posted to this particular board before.

 

So, I'm 2nd generation American... sort of. Or 3rd depending on how you keep track. But I'm also mixed. Latina & European. I look pretty white & grew up pretty much Americanized. But I've always been close with my grandparents & culturally I've identified strongly with my two "cultures." It's a big part of who I am.

 

I can't help but feel a tinge of sadness at the thought that DS is & will be removed from his cultural heritage. DH is white & DS is blond & green-eyed. And my parents are totally Americanized... so DS won't have the same opportunities for visiting the countries where my grandparents are from. I will obviously expose him to some things... like foods that I can cook, music, etc. It took me long enough to figure out where I "belonged" since I always felt a little out of place being mixed & DS will belong even less.

 

I think I'm just coming to terms with DS being separate from me (mother's version of separation anxiety!) and having a completely different identity. It's not like I want to push anything on him. I also am realizing that this is more & more the face of America... when it's not so strange to be mixed anymore (as it was considered odd even for me growing up) & everyone is a little bit of everything... or at least many people are. Which I mostly think is really cool.

 

Anyone in a similar situation? How do you introduce parts of your cultural heritage in a way that won't make your LOs resent it?



 

post #4 of 13

  91 views and no one joins in?

post #5 of 13

I worry about this too with my DS. I moved to the U.S. when I was 9, and grew up speaking Japanese at home to my parents (and still do!), though English mostly with my sister. My DH is Korean, but he moved to the U.S. when he was much younger but still spoke Korean at home. I am hoping that he will also appreciate our respective languages and cultures too in time. I try to speak Japanese to him at home but he is only speaking English so far (though he does understand me) because he goes to daycare 5 days a week. My mom does not speak that much English and I imagine a time when DS and she will not be able to communicate as easily. Like the PP said, I will continue to expose him to everything but try not to be too pushy about it. I remember going through a period in middle and high school where I wanted to be like the "American" kids and was embarrassed to bring friends over because my mom couldn't speak English well, didn't want to ask people to take their shoes off etc. But I came around (obviously) to be able to embrace all aspects of my upbringing.

post #6 of 13

I think we also need to realize that "Americanized"  or "mainstream" is also a culture. I am very aware of it because I am raising my kids outside my home culture, & Baba is HK Chinese. So when I do things like bake X-mas cookies or  decorate a tree in my living room at X-mas, or feed them mashed potatoes and gravy, or clam chowder, or make borscht or chopped liver, or hummus, or play Blue Grass music, or Grateful Dead or Blues, and read Walt Whitman & Emily Dickinson and Louisa may Alcott & Amelia Bedelia and Dr. Seuss and Maya Angelou and Sandra Cisneros, etc etc. etc I am passing on my culture. (My cultural background: Semi-haute-bourgeoesie...one side of the  family is 4th-generation Eastern European Jewish,other side is German-WASP from the US Midwest & South, I grew up in New England, my parents were kind-of-hippies...).

 

The HK Chinese stuff flows in rather effortlessly, because we live here, and DH's family is here. Then it mixes up and fuses. One of my kids new favorite easy suppers is what we call "Quesadillas" (which they learned to like visiting Grandpa in California). But they're really a medley of what's available: the tortillas are really wheat chapatis (because it's easier to get the flour and use oil instead of lard) and I use Edam (easiest for me to buy here) and put in  left-over bits of char siu.

 

So, T2009, unless you're letting your child be raised by wolves, he *will* be in touch with his culture. The culture you give him and the one he creates :)

 

I think the best way to pass on cultural heritage is to tell family stories, to cook foods, and to celebrate holidays. Don't despair. We all want to pass on the best and happiest memories of our own childhoods, but it's impossible. As the saying goes "The past is foreign country, they do things differently there".  Instead, share what you can, rejoice in it and also rejoice in new influences too. It's ALL culture. :)

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Wow! It's amazing to hear all your experiences & thoughts on this topic! And I'm glad I'm not alone.

 

I definitely am feeling less "sad" reading your views, and I know that we will create our own cultural guideposts & traditions as we go along.

 

And Skreader, it's wonderful to hear your point of view on "American" as culture.

 

But please, keep it coming! It's really cool to read these posts!

post #8 of 13

i am an immigrant from asia. culturally i have to start on the language. dd has grown up with it (and many others) but she doesnt speak it.

 

what i do feel bad for her is her personality related. she is a PEOPLE person. and seh doesnt get the people fix here as she does when we visit my family (I have none here). it had a huge impact on her when she was 9 months old and when she was 3 1/2. she has been wanting to go back too and keeps on talking about doing a couple of years of her highschool in the school i went to.

 

what i try and encourage are values that were hugely important to me when i was growing up. like fresh homecooked food, respecting your elders and teachers, knowing when to talk, being polite on a whole other level. i know dd wants to do that too, because she watches a lot of anime and she really relates to the being politely quiet when you dont really need to say anything. the human element is what i am trying to instil in her.

 

she is very much an american and she relates to both sides of her culture. actually 4 i would say due to her own mixed heritage. even though she reads local american english authors seh also reads authors from her other as well as adopted heritage.

 

however i now realise how much culture is passed on thru language and i feel sad i let that slide. its something i am trying to get it back up and going.

 

wwe wear asian clothes sometimes, and visit the temples. i have not seeked out asian friends but i do have a few that are far more orthodox than i am.

 

but here's the thing. i am also HUGELY excited for dd. because we do a lot from all other cultures. a chance we get here but i problably would not in the city i was raised in. food, books, movies, acutally hearning the language spoken.

 

i think though that the bottom line is i dont want dd to become xenophobic - which today is a huge global phenomena. however i do think this is more of a 'my' thing since anthropology is my passion and it would tear me apart if dd became prejudiced.

post #9 of 13

I think a lot of it hinges on language. 

 

Even though my children are growing up in their father's culture, he didn't want to share his dialect. He's more comfortable in French (the community language although Alsace is kind of bilingual). He grew up bilingually but all his education was in French. 

 

We did put them in a German bilingual program but they really don't relate to being Alsatian. They refuse to put on the clothes and laugh at the music. I figure they need to get a bit more mature. Since I'm not Alsatian (although my family came from only a few miles away in Germany 4 generations ago by coincidence), I don't feel a great need to share my dh's culture with them. I'll point it out but that's about it. So this can happen even in the country of origin! 

 

I know families who are really keen to do everything (music, dance, etc.) BUT the language. The kids don't really feel attached unless they actually speak it. They kind of "that's nice" and move on, like mine do with Alsatian culture. 

 

But I always speak to them in English and encouraged them to reply in it. Only my son tried to reply in French but I nipped that in the bud. I'm so surprised not just that they're fluent in English but how well they relate to American culture. It's kind of their own version. When we go to the States, people often don't even realize that we live in France (until they speak to each other, which is always in French). They're quite proud and really gravitate to anything and everything American. It might help that I'm from California so people know about it, where it is, about the beaches, movies and Golden Gate Bridge. It's funny because they see NO conflict in being both French and American. 

 

Now that they're older, I'm so glad that I kept it up. We can talk about personal and complex things in English and really make them understand. I've lived in France for 14 years and spoke French before moving here but I could never have a really close relationship with my children in anything but English (which my dh doesn't speak so that doesn't extend to adults). 

 

I really urge you NOT to use the community language with your own children in public. This can send the message that your culture is something to hide or be ashamed of. Be proud (and no, it's not rude, don't blabber on in front of people-easy!) 

 

I wondered how much religion would play a role. While we're a minority in both countries, my dh and I are of the same faith. That doesn't seem to be as crucial. It's even confusing since even the same religion can be practiced very differently. Perhaps it's made worse because my dh and I look so different, they have trouble linking us to the same background lol! So the one thing we had in common didn't really connect as well as I thought it would. They're proud of it but sometimes balk at the religion classes. They identify with it but they don't relate to very religious people that well (because we're NOT). 

 

So language seems to be the key to avoiding disengagement, not religion, not music, not dance, etc. The bottom line is that if they don't have the language, they will never really attach themselves to the culture. We succeeded with the American and failed on the Alsatian. They might like the culture but really identifying with it is a different matter. 

post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momo123 View Post

I worry about this too with my DS. I moved to the U.S. when I was 9, and grew up speaking Japanese at home to my parents (and still do!), though English mostly with my sister. My DH is Korean, but he moved to the U.S. when he was much younger but still spoke Korean at home. I am hoping that he will also appreciate our respective languages and cultures too in time. I try to speak Japanese to him at home but he is only speaking English so far (though he does understand me) because he goes to daycare 5 days a week. My mom does not speak that much English and I imagine a time when DS and she will not be able to communicate as easily. Like the PP said, I will continue to expose him to everything but try not to be too pushy about it. I remember going through a period in middle and high school where I wanted to be like the "American" kids and was embarrassed to bring friends over because my mom couldn't speak English well, didn't want to ask people to take their shoes off etc. But I came around (obviously) to be able to embrace all aspects of my upbringing.


I could have written that post, all of it!
post #11 of 13

I'm half Mexican, half Hungarian and also my maternal family are Jews, mostly secular but Jews. My mom was born and raised in Poland, I was born in Poland as well and I grew up in Israel and Germany, we moved a lot growing up but to my parents it was important that we speak Hungarian and Spanish with them. It didnt mattered to what country we were moving, we had to keep up with the Hungarian and Mexican culture. I grew up trilingual, with Hungarian, Spanish, and Hebrew, I remember that even if we moved from Israel my sisters and I continue to speak in Hebrew with each other.  My younger siblings were all born in Germany and they didnt speak Hebrew but German to each other.

 

After my mother died, my dad decided to move and stay in Mexico, which was no problem becuase we were all familiar with the culture, language, etc. Actually, I remember feeling way more Mexican than my friends who, being from a bordering state were very Americanized, actually my Americanization began in Mexico, I was a complete stranger to the American culture as strange as it sounds. My younger siblings don't speak Hungarian, Hebrew or German, after my parents and grandparents died one of my aunt's took them to live with her in Poland, they speak Polish. My sisters and I dont speak Polish but they don't speak Hungarian or Hebrew either, we communicate in broken Spanish or mostly English, which is sad, we're siblings. And they are complete strangers to Hungarian and Mexican culture.

 

The bio dad of my oldest DD is Mexican, so that makes DD almost a 100% Mexican with some Hungarian Jewish ancestry, she says and declares she's Mexican - American, she speaks Hungarian but only when she needs to, she doesnt really use it a lot, she doesnt seem interested and I respect that. She is, however, very interested in the Jewish culture, but I cant really help that much becuase I was raised agnostic, the only thing I can help her with is Hebrew, and I'm an atheist. DD2, DD3 and DS have my mixed culture and their dad's culture, who is Norwegian. They speak Norwegian when they are with him only, I don't really do anything so they can keep up with that, that's something that he's supposed to do. They all have Spanish names though, Spanish is a big thing in our house.

 

post #12 of 13
I wish my kids were more interested in learning Hungarian. I try every day to expose them to it but they just aren't interested in the least bit. =/ I'll keep trying, though!
post #13 of 13

I have never visited my areas of origin. I think being a part of the melting pot is a great thing. Maybe some day, we will visit. It bothers me sometimes that even school learning seems to focus on very limited cultures and no one even ever hears about my ethnic background. But you can teach traditions and stuff yourself. 

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