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Raising kids to know themselves

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I was just wondering, from other white mamas whose children are mixed race/ethnicity... how do you raise your children with a strong connection to their heritage? We live in a predominately white area, and my husband doesn't speak Spanish on a regular basis. I speak more Spanish to them than he does, actually, and I am not a native speaker at all!! I try to read them traditional PR nursery rhymes, listen to salsa, and make rice and beans, arroz con leche, etc...

Culture is about so much more than food and music, though! We are about 6 hours away from our family, and I know that because my kids look white, and live in a white area, with a white mama, and a father who is pretty "white" himself... that they may not have a strong connection to their Puerto Rican side, even though it is as much a part of them as the Scotch/Irish.

We hope to some day take regular vacations to Puerto Rico, and I'm sure that will go a long way to informing the children's awareness of that heritage.

I'm not worried about this - they will be who they are... I just sometimes wish we lived in or near a Hispanic neighborhood so they could be more exposed to the language and culture.

Although, technically speaking, my "culture" is Appalachian, and they arent' being raised with that either...
post #2 of 20
My DH (PR and Dominican predominately) suddenly stopped sharing his culture with the kids. Don't get me started on this one. Add he is dark brown (assumed black american around here not latino) and I am "white" it adds to the mix. DD claims everything ( I EVERYTHING!) but is perceived by others as white. DS he says he is brown or black and does not seem to "get" being latino. Spanish his what Dad's family speaks and he is not close to them. Others perceive him as multiracial. All this said, I work hard to teach them about their ancestry and cultures and rqcism, etc.!
post #3 of 20
My DH and I are both Anglo/Native American "mutts", and we've been stuggling with the concept of "culture". We don't like dominant American culture. But we ARE American. How do you transmit solid moral values to your kids when you are surrounded and bombarded with the pop culture everyday?
It's a little easier living in Europe. We are more isolated from it, but what do we expose them to instead?
post #4 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Collinsky View Post
Culture is about so much more than food and music, though!
That's so true! Culture is also traditions, expectations, family relations, morals and beliefs, etc., and chances are you're passing those on more than you realize! DH is Latino and I am American mutt, and I consider us a hispanic household because in many ways we run our home more in line with DH's culture than mine.

We also are active with other Latinos in the area... there don't see to be that many, but then you find organizations dedicated to preserving culture or educating Hispanic youth and then ALL kinds of Hispanics seem to come out of the woodwork! So we are active in community organizations and events, and we're friendly with folks we meet in the grocery store, etc. who seem like we could get along. When DD gets a little older, we hope to enroll her in some immersion courses to give her exposure to more Hispanic kids her age.

In general, we have to make an effort, but it's a lot of fun so it's totally worth it!
post #5 of 20
We listen to a lot of native music, I cook a fair amount of Kenyan food, we have lots of Kenyan touristey T-shirts for DS that he loves to wear, we talk about going to Kenya, watch documentaries on TV, read books set in Kenya or Africa, I wear DD on my back in a lesso sometimes, frequently wear my lesso around the house, and try to hang out with as many Kenyans as possible. There was a time when we'd ask DS where he was from, and he's say Kenya. But, DH doesn't speak very much Swahili or his native tongue with the kids, and the little I know doesn't go very far. We tend to live very American, though (according to our Kenyan friends) but hey, I'm American and we live in America. So it's a pretty good balance, I think, I just wish we had more native language going on.
post #6 of 20
My DH is English, I'm all the mediterranean package, but i was raised in Greece and i was born there as well, growing up speaking Greek, Spanish and Portuguese. My kids speak all the 4 languages above, we listen to Greek, Flamenco and some Portuguese singers. We do Greek traditions and now that my mum lives with us is much better as she's been installing some Portuguese and Spanish traditions. We go to Athens every year and in August we visit Mallorca(my mum's birth place) DH is in love with Mallorca and we even have a house there. And the 4 of the where born in Greece
So,my kids are in touch with their herritage.
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
I guess part of my problem is that even if I found an amazing PR/Latino community here, I would feel stupid. In that I would be afraid I'd be perceived as a white girl trying to be boriqua. Which is my own issue, I know.

It would help if it were more of a priority for my Dh, but it's just not. He'd like for them to be fluent in Spanish, but it's not important enough for him to speak Spanish to them more than a couple of sentences every couple months. Part of it is that even though he's fully fluent and was raised with both, English was his first language, and the one his mom used at home.

Food and music we can do, but they are so mixed in with the food and music of so many cultures that they aren't going to identify with them. Which is good in so many ways... I don't know. Maybe my kids won't have a strong connection to their cultural heritage. Maybe that's okay? I don't know.
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Culture is about so much more than food and music, though!
While I agree that culture is so much more, I've found that food and music were the first things I introduced my dc to. I am from Jamaican descent and my dh is... uh...uh...kidding. He's Swedish, Irish, German and Native American.

My dd loves dumplings and Rice & Peas, and although those foods are, of course, found in all walks of life, when I presented them to her, I told her that they were Jamaican foods and that in Jamaican kitchens (on any given Sunday) all over the world, you could bet that there was a pot of rice & peas on the stove.

Although it's a little hokey, it's comforting too to know that there are people doing what you do and eating what you eat. (Does that make sense?) We also introduced her to reggae music (Bob Marley and Putumayo) and again, it's just comforting to be connected.
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by olliepop View Post

Although it's a little hokey, it's comforting too to know that there are people doing what you do and eating what you eat. (Does that make sense?) We also introduced her to reggae music (Bob Marley and Putumayo) and again, it's just comforting to be connected.
Oh, yes, that makes so much sense. And THIS might sound hokey, but it reminds me of the scene in Fiddler on the Roof that for some reason is really moving to me, where the family is singing the Sabbath song and doing their Sabbath ritual, and then it shows all the families doing this same thing at the same time and there is such a feeling of unity.

And it's cool to think that even though we're not immersed in the culture, that having the music, the food, some of the traditions, that this connects them (and me) to that. Thank you! I guess this is what I needed to hear.
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by olliepop View Post
My dd loves dumplings and Rice & Peas, and although those foods are, of course, found in all walks of life, when I presented them to her, I told her that they were Jamaican foods and that in Jamaican kitchens all over the world, you could bet that there was a pot of rice & peas on the stove.

Although it's a little hokey, it's comforting too to know that there are people doing what you do and eating what you eat. (Does that make sense?) We also introduced her to reggae music (Bob Marley and Putumayo) and again, it's just comforting to be connected.
My DD loves rice and peas too! I don't think it's hokey, it is comforting! I feel a connection!
post #11 of 20
I pride myself on being able to make a mean pot of rice and peas...better than my MIL's according to DH but I take a bit of creative licence :

Dh is of Jamaican descent and we have lots of friends and family of Caribbean origin that we spend time with so DD gets exposure to both sides of her family with regularity which is nice.
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GSMama View Post
I pride myself on being able to make a mean pot of rice and peas...better than my MIL's according to DH but I take a bit of creative licence :
LOL! That's me with the rice and beans, here. My beans are the bomb.
post #13 of 20
Wellll, dh and I are both a little "counter cultural" regarding our home cultures. We like to make things difficult for ourselves.

The primary identity we want our children to have is not color or culture, but their relationship with God. There are certain things we take from each of our cultures, and many things we reject from each of our cultures.

Our goal at some point is to be able to be able to move back to dh's country while the kids are still young. Western culture is pervasive but it will be easier to raise them with the good things in his culture if we are right there. In the meantime, we have cassettes with cultural music, dh wears his cultural clothing occasionally (which the boys think is *awesome*!). There is an Ethiopian restaurant nearby which we visit when we can, and we try to keep their minds open regarding food so that switching to Ethiopian food when we move back there will be easier. We speak positively and longingly about Ethiopia, show the kids where it is on the map, show them pictures of dh family, dream with them about what it will be like when we go there, etc.

I made dh a comforter with the Ethiopian flag on it, and for their birthdays the boys got matching blankets, but there's are reversible, Ethiopian on one side and American flag on the other.
post #14 of 20
Our son is 17 months old. I'm a white American, and my husband was born and raised in southern India. It's important to both of us that he be conscious of his Indian heritage. My husband speaks Tamil to him on a semi-regular basis, and he also gets exposed to the language through almost-daily chats with his Indian grandparents via the computer. Our food is almost all Indian, since my husband is the cook in the family. We visit the local Vaishnava temple (and we're lucky that there is a local temple!) fairly often, and we're hoping he may be able to take language classes there when he gets older. His name is Indian, too -- we went back and forth for ages trying to find a name that would "work" in both cultures and that we both liked, only finally to give up and just go with an Indian one.

We're really fortunate in my husband's family and how supportive they are of us. My in-laws spent three months with us after our son was born, and they're coming for another three months this summer. We were also lucky enough to have my husband's brother and sister-in-law with us for six weeks recently, when they were stuck in limbo upon relocating to the US. I'm looking forward to the kidlet getting to spend a lot of time with that side of his family as he gets older. There's just no substitute for personal experience when it comes to transmitting culture, in my opinion.
post #15 of 20
I'm white, Dh is Japanese. All the Japanese the kids know I taught them. We do eat a lot of traditional Japanese dishes and we refer to FIL as their Jiichan but honestly I try a lot harder than DH to make sure they have a taste of their Asian side and not just their white side.
post #16 of 20
I've made a point of developing traditions that come from both of our families.
For example: Christmas Eve we celebrate with traditional Mexican food (I learned how to make tamales, chumparrado, pozole) and then on Christmas Day we do more of an American style Christmas like I grew up with.
I am really encouraging Spanish language as much as possible, he watches Spanish Sesame Street and we read Spanish stories, listen to Spanish kids music etc.
post #17 of 20
We have had a hard time with this one. It's interesting to read what others do in terms of teaching both cultures. I do cook Indian food and we have taken the kids to the local Hindu temple. And last Fall we took DD to see some Indian dancing, which she loved.

I think the problem is the relationship we have with MIL & FIL. They are so different than my parents and they just have such a hard time with the kids. Not that they can't accept them, it's just they are older and kids kind of throw off their center of gravity, KWIM? DH also has a love hate relationship wit them and I think the kids are picking up on that.

We named them tradtional anglo names and did not opt for the traditional Indian names or even the tradition of naming. We also had a traditional Christian wedding, at DH's request. He is very disconnected from his religion and culture that it is so hard for me to bridge the gap.


-lisa
post #18 of 20
I think people tend to overthink this topic. I get both perspectives... of the biracial child, and the parent of biracial children.

Expose your child to the food, music, language and cultures of both cultures, but don't push one over the other.

Speaking from my own experience, being biracial means that you never quite fit in completely with either culture. It's not a bad thing per say, just different.

There's a lot of pressure to identify as one or the other, but what has worked out the best for me is to identify as both.

My kids are 3/4 Japanese and 1/4 various Northern European. My oldest son identifies more as Japanese-American... the others haven't quite decided yet. I think the fact that my kids see my very "culturally Japanese" in-laws more often than my mother (whose family is very Americanized) and my dad might have something to do with that. My kids do know that my red-haired, blue eyed father is NOT Japanese though.
post #19 of 20
Personally, I try to expose my kids to as many cultures as possible. I think seeing/knowing that the world is more than black/white/"hispanic" is so important.
post #20 of 20

raising kids to know themselves

this is my first time using this, and i just had to respond to your message. my dh's mother was white and his dad was black and native american, which leaves my dh looking maybe hispanic with some "black" features, but not everyone can tell. i'm white, plain & simple, very pale skin, blue eyes, brown hair. all of our kids have brown eyes and straight hair. we live in a community that's 1/2 white and the rest is a little of everything, but not many black folks. with how our family looks, we could easily pass for non-black, but that's not at all how i want to raise my kids. my dh doesn't teach them about their black culture because he says he just is black, there's nothing to be taught. i feel like the burden is on me, you know?
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