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When parents are from different countries... - Page 2

post #21 of 29
I am by myself a cultural mixing pot, and my children will be more so.

The more culture the better. Better to be a citizen of the world than stuck inflexibly with one culture.

There is nothing wrong with learning about all the holidays, or that there are more than two ways to use a fork. (funny I always thought North Americans held their forks upsidedown)
post #22 of 29
i'm sure you'll do fine, blending the traditions and explanations as the need arises.

on the whole fork and knife thing... I hold my fork in my left and knife in my right, for most of the meal. I just find that it makes more sense and is easier then setting down, switching hands, and picking up and switching over again, after each bite a big hassle. So, i don't do it. I am able to take take smaller bites and not have a lot of wasted movements.
That being said, i wasn't raised like that. We usually cut, set down, eat, pick up etc... but, I don't anymore. No one says anything and I've never noticed any dirty looks.
post #23 of 29
As a Brit married to an American, I understand where you're coming from - but it's a matter of what you're used to. I found dh's American manners really difficult to deal with at first.

But I soon got him trained.

Seriously, I have persuaded him to put his knife and fork together when he's finished eating - the untidiness really bugged me. Otherwise, his manners don't bother me as he's got good American manners. I think that bad manners stand out whatever the customs of the country you're in, and it's the bad manners that bother me, not the American manners.

Having said that, we are bringing our girls up with British table manners. It is interesting that you worry about your children being seen as rude in the USA if they use English manners. I see it differently - in the US, English manners are seen generally as quaint and curious. However, American manners in the UK can be seen as rude, for example eating with just a fork, which was an absolute no-no in my day and age. Having said that, things are so much more relaxed in the UK now that I really don't think it would be a problem for your children to have American manners there - just make sure you talk loudly with an American accent, then you'd be forgiven!

I do know that on many MBA courses in the US, students have to learn British table manners so that they can go to good restaurants in the UK and handle the manners thing. I don't think British MBA students have to study American manners though.

As for holidays and festivals, we love having dual nationality (plus German, as Dh is half German). We enjoy all the festivals (although I have to admit to not enjoying Halloween as like many Brits, I find it uncomfortable, but we do it because it is a tradition here). We do Bonfire night, make mince pies and Christmas pud at Christmas, eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, put out our shoes for Saint Nick like all German children, then also celebrate all the US holidays. I try to see it that our children get the best of all three worlds.

We're a few years into this English-American mix, and all I can say is - try to lighten up, not worry, and enjoy it. It is interesting, and it can be difficult, but it is also a lot of fun.

And cut your dh some slack when he bashes Americans - I find myself doing it, partly out of homesickness and displacement - we really are divided by a common language and if your dh is like me, he'll never really feel that this is his home. It's tough being away from home, especially if people don't like your table manners!
post #24 of 29
My dh is Moroccan Berber. Ds understands and even uses a few Berber words (everyday words that come in handy on visits), but his first language is English. He eats very well with flatware, but he is also capable of tearing off bread and using it for a utensil, like my ILs do.
Our family is Muslim, but because we live in the US, close to my family (all Christians), ds is being raised very familiar with and respectful of g-ma and g-pa's holidays and customs. My family has adjusted to our dietary restrictions with relatively few uncomfortable exchanges.
We will work hard to travel to Morocco with some regularity as our children grow. Dh would like to send me with the kids for 3 months, during which he'd visit a month, so they would really "get" the local languages and culture. I hope it will be possible in the future...
I guess, the way I see it, ds will absorb American culture through a lot of osmosis, so it makes sense for us to work harder to prepare him for better, more enjoyable experiences on visits to N. Africa.
We took him to visit when he was 17-18 months. He was totally comfortable in the ILs culture--he got terribly sick and was covered in flea bites by the end...but that is an issue of destitution, rather than culture. He took well to people kissing him out of nowhere on the streets, and the generally different way of doing just about everything in Morocco. I look forward to the next visit with him. He made it much more bearable for me (I also got sick and my flea bites were worse than his!).
Ds's favorite drink is Moroccan tea, and he loves to snack on "zitoun" (olives). He eats cumin on his hard cooked eggs, and noodles for breakfast. I have absolutely no problem promoting these "quirks."
post #25 of 29
I never realised there was a difference in the way Americans eat! I was born in the States and we moved to Canada when I was 8. You have reminded me that my first friend here (and still a close friend 33 years later!) used to tease me about the way I ate! Because I scooped my food with my right hand and she stabbed it with her left. It was embarrassing because I didn't realise that my manners were perfectly acceptable in the States. I thought I was doing something wrong and I have been self conscious of my manners ever since. I had completely forgotten about this until I read your post. I'm seeing her tonight and boy will she get an earful!
post #26 of 29
However, American manners in the UK can be seen as rude, for example eating with just a fork, which was an absolute no-no in my day and age. Having said that, things are so much more relaxed in the UK now...
I was raised with good american table manners by a strict mom. Imagine my surprise when my british BIL gave me the hardest possible time in a "fancy" restaurant for having american table manners! I had always heard it was abysmally rude to bring up another's manners in anyway, shape or form. He did not leave me alone about it for years. I learned how to eat euro-brit style from my british dh but continued to use american style manners around my BIL just to get the rise out of him. He finally shut it when I told him point blank that pointing out other's manners is hopelessly middle-class and neurotic.

Our kids are being raised with euro-brit manners at dh's insistence. We also celebrate boxing day and horde fireworks for Guy Fawkes Day. Christmas Crackers with silly hats at Christmas. Etc. If it makes him happy...

post #27 of 29
During WW2 the Germans would listen at people's doors at mealtimes. If they heard cutlery against the plate they knew there were Americans in there, as Europeans don't keep picking up and putting down their knives and forks.

I'm Irish, married to a Northern Irishman, and there is a difference there!!

Oklahoma Mama, your ds should have dual citizenship for life. All you need to do (assuming he was born in the US) is register him as a Canadian born abroad at the Embassy in Washington.
post #28 of 29
MilliesMum, my dh is British too, and when we first met, I thought he had atrocious table manners! I didn't know any better The first time we visited his family in England, I think I was making an attempt to eat the "proper way", when his mom quit putting a knife at my place!! I guess I didn't succeed! Dh is pretty laid back about the holidays. The thing that is cute but sometimes drives me nuts is that ds (3 1/2) talks with a British accent!! And I can't even say "garage" the American way anymore! Just today, I was explaining that "supper" in this country is the evening meal (unless you call it dinner) and in England it is the bedtime snack. Ds picks up on all the differences and seems to prefer to do everything like his dad - maybe its a guy thing?! And I encourage dh to avoid name-calling of any kind around ds - poor example and all that. Children are so amazing, I'm pretty sure your situation will work out fine
post #29 of 29
Thread Starter 
Britishmum - you're right - I'm the only one who has had ever said anything about dh's "manners". I don't even know if anyone else has ever noticed that he does things differently. I think I'm just a stickler for these things - the "rules" were a big deal for my family growing up, so I notice more than most. I just wasn't sure which way to teach dd, but I guess she'll be exposed to both ways and choose which ever she wants. I try to cut dh some slack about his "America bashing". I just don't want dd to grow up thinking Americans are quaint idiots, which is what you'd think if you listened to dh for long! :LOL I know he is very homesick - he was on his way back home when we met and only stayed because of me. We didn't move to England because I had two dogs and didn't want to quarantine them. So he's been a fish out of water for 10 years now.

Applejuice - I've always noticed that when I'm in England, that the Engish treat me (as an American) with an odd combination of awe and disgust. I think they *really* do like Americans and America a great deal, but they just have fun bashing us - kind of like many Americans do the French.
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