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How do you make sure your children don't lose their heritage?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
My grandfather is Cherokee, but grew up in a largely white town, and so was too interested in girls, cars, and parties to learn Cherokee, or even any of the stories or traditions. He married a white woman, and though my mom and her siblings knew they were Cherokee, they didn't know anything about it.

My aunt and I are now trying to learn more about our heritage and to bring it back.

My father is German, but never taught us any of it - I only found out a few weeks ago he spoke it! I had thought my grandmother was the last generation to speak it, when a few weeks ago Dad started telling stories about growing up in a German community.

I don't even know where to start finding ways to research that culture - at the moment, all I know about Germans is beer, Nazi's, and the Brother's Grimm.

My husband is half Spanish (born in america). He was raised speaking English (my father-in-law was worried he would pick up an accent, and then be discriminated against), but went to live in Spain after high school and now is fluent.

I'm still terrified of the Spanish culture being lost to my children the same way my Cherokee and German heritages are lost to me.

What can I do to keep that from happening?
post #2 of 12
I worry about DS loosing out on DH's culture. DH seems to have little interest in sharing it and we no lomger see his side of the family b/c MIL is a racist b*tch from. MIL controls our access to the rest of the family.
post #3 of 12
I can relate a bit! My grandmother was Mexican, but didn't even teach my mom Spanish because she was so discriminated against and didn't want Mom to go through that too.

Now I am the foreigner, as an American in Denmark married to a Dane. My mother is a retired teacher and is loving the opporunity to find resources for me, so I have it pretty easy! There are all kinds of board games, books, videos, etc. about American history. Also since my parents are in the US, we'll be visiting periodically.

Your FIL might be a good resource, though it depends how enthusiastic he is about the idea. Does your DH have any contacts in Spain that he might get such resources from? If there's a university near you, maybe some Spanish department professors could help too. If you're Christian, you can incorporate Spanish traditions into your religious holidays. Just some thoughts…

Good luck with TTC. Nice to see you're planning ahead!
post #4 of 12
The best way to keep the culture is to live it. You probably have some remnants of your German or Cherokee culture that your parents have passed down and you just didn't know it. You can hold on to that and expand upon it by learning more traditional dishes, listening to music or enrolling your kids in classes where they can learn dance or other aspects of the culture.

Bringing in Spanish culture might be easier since dh is there but the onus will probably still be on you. I know it's your husband's heritage but usually it's up to women to be the ones to pass it on because we are usually the ones who sign the kids up for the classes, plan the meals and keep up social contacts whether they are family or friends. It sounds like you have a lot on your plate but in the end your kids will be more well rounded for it. Even if they grow up and then decide to adhere to only their American persona instead of the blended cultures they will still be better off learning about their other heritages because they will have an appreciation for them.
post #5 of 12

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Edited by RainCoastMama - 2/26/14 at 9:51pm
post #6 of 12
ITA with previous posters: you have to live it. Seek out others with the same background. Learn more about the culture yourself.
I find it very difficult to live my culture being so far from it and it being a very Elder-oriented culture. I'm trying to pass on the few stories I know and trying to teach them the medicinal uses for plants which I've been taught, as well as which plants are edible, despite being called "weeds". Survival skills- that may sound funny, but that is one of the first things a child is taught by the Anishinabe.
post #7 of 12
I'm Mexican, my mom was born in the Basque Country to a 1/2 Korean, 1/2 Spaniard mom and to a Spaniard father and my dad is(was) from Lebanon.
I never met my dad so I don't have any ideas of Lebanese culture, my mom can speak Basque but she never taught me, my grandma used to speak Korean to me when I was very young, and eventually she stopped and I don't remember anything.
But as far as I can remember, my mom and grandparents never incorporated Korean traditions or some "different" traditions from Spain.

Now my DH is Catalan(Spaniard), he grew up in Madrid, he didn't really grew up with Catalan christmas traditions, he just grew up speaking Catalan.

I found that some Spaniard tradtions are just the same as the Mexicans.
For example in Christmas, we put a "pessebre" under the Xmas tree, they wre figurines of Jesus as a baby you know the stage and plus a Catalan tradtion of putting a funny looking figurine there, among other things that we don't do here in Mexico
They're some Spaniard Christmas Carols that we also sing and use them. Those are some examples. Maybe you DH should start teaching your kids Spanish.
I'm adding adding more later, i'm just too lazy to do it know.
Hope that helps a little
post #8 of 12
Step 1 would be to teach your children the involved languages on the level of a native speaker. I am convinced that there is no cultural identity formation possible if it's a second language to them.
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by MetasMom View Post
Step 1 would be to teach your children the involved languages on the level of a native speaker. I am convinced that there is no cultural identity formation possible if it's a second language to them.
I'm not convinced that it's true. It's definitely not true in the Japanese-American/Nikkei community. A good number of Japanese-American's of my mother and in-laws generation speak little to no Japanese.

It's important to point out that most adult Japanese Americans/Nikkei today are 3rd or 4th generation. The first generation is gone (unless they emigrated post WWII), and the second generation are all senior citizens.

The internment during WWII also led a lot of the second generation to try to remove themselves more from being Japanese by not raising their children as bilingual and not maintaining many ties to the motherland.

My mother is Japanese-American, and she has one immigrant parent (1952) and one second generation parent. My grandfather was stationed in occupied Japan during the Korean Conflict and met my grandmother that way. Mom was not raised bilingual, but was exposed to the language. She and her siblings took Japanese classes later in their childhood.

My grandparents spoke Japanese around me, and my grandmother taught me polite phrases, how to count, and some other food related vocabulary. Mom and Nana cooked both Japanese and Western style foods, took us to a Japanese American church, and we were involved with the local Japanese-American community center. I think the only thing we didn't do at home was use chopsticks or the language. My dad is Caucasian.

My husband is 4th generation Japanese-American. His parents and grandparents are very involved with the Japanese-American community and are more "culturally" Japanese than my mother's family. His grandparents speak fluent Japanese, but his parents don't.

My kids are 3/4ths Japanese, and they're exposed to Japanese cuisine, attend a Japanese Buddhist church, and are being taught polite phrases in Japanese.
post #10 of 12
My husband and I have talked about this a LOT - we want our daughter to be able to TALK to her grandparents who really mainly speak Farsi (they are in Iran) her grandfather has some English but it's not enough for them to really know her or her them so my husband is going to speak Persian to her as much as possible, and of course he sings in Persian, etc. I'm hoping it enhances my own Persian skills - I can understand pretty well but cannot converse easily...

We are also ordering storybooks in Persian from Iran - I know that language is only one component of the culture but that's where we can most easily start.

The rest will come through in daily life, I imagine as she grows older and can experience more Iranian holidays, foods, history, etc.
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by somerset View Post
The best way to keep the culture is to live it. You probably have some remnants of your German or Cherokee culture that your parents have passed down and you just didn't know it. You can hold on to that and expand upon it by learning more traditional dishes, listening to music or enrolling your kids in classes where they can learn dance or other aspects of the culture.
Yep. Learning the language is also very important, especially when they are younger. Also you should try to go there, wherever there is, at least once a year to keep it relevant and reinforce what has been learned. It is very difficult to keep the heritage alive without a community that values it. I understand it is not always cheap or easy to do that, but it should be made a priority.

We have decided it is important that regardless where we live, our daughter has to spend at least 2-6 weeks a year in the other country, in that culture and language. It has to be relevant. Therefore, we had to limit our family size to be able to afford that, but to us, it is worth it.
post #12 of 12
I'm an American Mutt. I have French, English, Scottish, Irish, Native American (Cherokee), Austrian and Russian blood. My husband is Lebanese. A way to a mans heart is through his stomach, so I cook a lot of Arabic foods. My DH tries to teach the DDs Arabic, but he slacks off a lot.

When I went to Lebanon, the younger ladies made fun of me because I didn't know how to belly dance, so I have 11 hours of belly dancing lessons on my Tivo and I work with my DD#1 to teach us both how to Belly Dance...
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