The GOOD NEWS thread: What works in your multicultural relationship? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 17 Old 04-07-2009, 12:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have been finding this forum to be kind of a depressing place lately, so much conflict being posted. :

I am happy and I feel dh and I have done a good job of bringing together our cultures and experiences and helping our children grow up bicultural.

So I wanted to start a post about the good things in multicultural families/relationships. What do you enjoy about being in a multicultural family? What are some tips/experiences/compromises/etc. that make your family work?
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#2 of 17 Old 04-07-2009, 02:41 AM
 
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What works for us

* To see the similarities in our families (both from large families w/ lots of talkative sisters; both "food oriented" families; both fairly "casual" or relaxed about most things).

* I think in many ways any marriage or partnership is in some ways a "cross-cultural" or "multicultural" relationship, because even couples from similar ethnic backgrounds have different "cultures" in their birth families. For example some WASP families will have roast beef for X-mas dinner and others, turkey; and for some the "Dinner" will be at 1pm and others, at 7pm.

* To learn and become familiar w/ each others cultures.

* To talk about differences openly and try to see possible issues coming up and decide how you want to approach them as a couple.

*To present a "united front" to both sets of natal families.

* If you're from a Euro-American family, do not see yourself as "culture-less". There's an old New Yorker cartoon I remember seeing when I was very young. A "haute WASP" family is sitting around a dinner table and the daughter of the family (~ 12 years old) is asking "Are we ethnic?". The answer is, of course, yes! So I said to people in HK "In my culture it is important for young children to be in bed by 8pm." Or, in my culture, we let the children run around and get sweaty and even play in the mud." Or, "In my culture, we encourage girls to climb and exert themselves and don't say 'that's playing like a boy'".
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#3 of 17 Old 04-07-2009, 12:32 PM
 
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DH is Euro-American and so is his entire extended family on both the maternal and paternal side. I am of mixed heritage (75% Chinese and 25% Euro-American), grew up in the states and my family is multiethnic, but I was raised culturally Chinese and speak Mandarin fluently.

I totally agree with Skreader on pretty much every point she made because that’s the exact recipe that makes a successful relationship. Every family has their own “culture” even if they come from the same ethnic background, so you find that common ground with each other, have open communication, learn about each other and always present a united front.

DH and I have mutual respect for each other, we try to be understanding and most importantly we keep an open mind and we celebrate our differences. Since having our first child, DH and I realized that we are in the process of creating our own unique family “culture” that is markedly different from both our families.

We love that DD is multiethnic and will be growing up multicultural and we chose to honor that by reflecting her heritage in her name. Our last name is Polish and so we choose to give DD an Irish first name and a Chinese middle name (which follows my family’s naming tradition). The only side not represented in her name is the German side, so we’ll have to figure something out for that.
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#4 of 17 Old 04-07-2009, 05:46 PM
 
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I think the most important thing that works for us is not to be "colorblind." I find that a lot of people don't see "color" and "race" and say that love is love. When I look at my dh day to day, I don't see him as a "white man," and when he sees me day to day, he doesn't see me as a "black woman," but we both acknowledge and respect who the other is wholeheartedly. Does that make sense?

He appreciates my culture and vice versa and although we don't dwell on our cultural differences, we know they are there and they are respected and a part of our lives and most importantly, our children's lives.

Cute story: My dd had to do a family project for kindergarten and she had to write about things her family does together and then end it with one special thing about her family. She wrote about bike rides, trips to coffee shops (for cookies ), going to playgrounds and her last sentence was:

One special thing about my family is that the boys are white and the girls are brown.

My mom did not think I should let her turn it in, but I thought it was great that she thinks that is ONE thing that is special about our family. My mom really couldn't articulate why she thought something was wrong about the sentence, but I thought it was great. She's proud of her family, all that we are, and all that we do.

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#5 of 17 Old 04-09-2009, 01:22 AM
 
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,
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#6 of 17 Old 04-09-2009, 01:27 AM
 
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I love this thread. theres a lot of beauty in being part of a multi-cultural family. i love the unspoken connection you have with other multi-cultural familes as you pass them by in everyday actvities. I love our children being comfortable and comforted by two parent that don't look alike. I love the unique perspective that comes from a blend of two (or more...) different backrounds living together. i love the acceptance and knowledge and compassion it teaches to others, especially family and friends, when growing up around multicultural families, did i articulate that okay, i mean to say is i love how it teaches my mother tolerance and compassion to different cultures beyond the pc claim to be liberal, tangent, sorry, okay what else do i love about a multi-cultural family? oh, the creation of a wonderfully unique and (... dare i say most beautiful...? ) person that has the priviledge of crossing colors and cultures in the most basic human way.
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#7 of 17 Old 04-09-2009, 01:56 AM
 
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subbing to think of ways to say what I want as beautifully as everyone else has!!!

GOOD moms let their kids lick the beaters. GREAT moms turn off the mixer first!
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#8 of 17 Old 04-10-2009, 03:43 AM
 
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I think what worked out so well for my family when I was growing up was that we got pretty much equal exposure to both cultures. We lived near both sets of grandparents, celebrated both sets of holidays.
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#9 of 17 Old 04-10-2009, 12:13 PM
 
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Laughing at each others cultures (poking fun). For example, in his culture you serve different dishes in different plates, but here, I'll put everything on the same plate and say "well, I hope you're going to eat those XX since they're touching your yy''...or something similar. And he makes fun of our enormous coffee cups...

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#10 of 17 Old 04-11-2009, 11:43 AM
 
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I'll chime in! Dh who is Indian has really helped me learn news ways of living and thinking, and cooking, lol! I think i am a better person because I have been exposed to his culture and just out of the box thinking, living, working, etc! we finally made a trip to India this past January to see his family and they were very welcoming to me and ds. I don't want dh to forget where he comes from, nor ds to not know his other culture, so it is normally me who asks the questions about Indian culture and who learned to cook indian food and who is making ds wear his Indian suit to my Grandma's for Easter this year. I think overall what makes our relationship work is not about cultures, its about our personalities, we both mesh together well, at least most of the time!

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#11 of 17 Old 04-15-2009, 10:38 AM
 
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I am German and my DH is American (English and French Canadian ancestry). We are actually pretty alike . We have been very open and honest with each other from the very beginning. I really think that is the key to any good relationship, but especially to a multicultural one. We learned about AP, TF and general "crunchy-ness" together, so we don't have to fight over that kind of stuff. My DH is really interested in German culture and encourages me to hang on to my traditions. This is especially important to me because my entire family is still in Germany and if I didn't have something to remind me of home I would probably not be as happy as I am.

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#12 of 17 Old 04-18-2009, 10:39 PM
 
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What works for us?

Our different cultures don't really get in the way that often......maybe because I met DH in his home country. I know where he is coming from (usually) when he does something a little "different." But really, he's a little Western and I'm a little African in the things we do and like, so we really just meet in the middle. A lot of the things I do are that are more APish are just natural to him. IDK.....baby's crying.....culture is very little conflict for us.
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#13 of 17 Old 05-31-2009, 06:20 PM
 
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dh and i just talk about our cultures and our perspectives of other cultures....a lot. ftr, i'm mulatto (black/white/native american) and dh is black. but our experiences have been mostly similar with both blacks and whites, so we spend a lot of time sharing our feelings and trying to avoid some of the same misconceptions and prejudgments that we've received in our lives. we hope to pass this on to our children who are also technically multiracial.....

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#14 of 17 Old 06-10-2009, 12:47 AM
 
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What works?
Well, the fact that lots of my "AP" ideas are what's "NORMAL" in DH's culture. (he says babies raised in what we would call the "mainstream" way don't "feel the love they need" like babies who sleep with their parents, are breastfed, etc.) We agree that those are NEEDS of our babies. (When I asked him about EC one day, describing it, he said that's what they do there, that's just "normal" and no, he does not know how they know how to do it, That's my next big adventure, I think, I would like to learn.) non-throwaway diapers are "normal' too.

We enjoy each other's cooking/foods. (I introduced DH to the concept of slapping peanut butter on bread and eating it, he introduced me to peanut butter as an ingredient in foods other than cookies--his eggplant dish, salad he makes, soup....sounds nasty, tastes great )


Respect for family/elders. My mother lives with us, and I don't know that DH would've married me if I WASN'T this type of person. I'm her only child, it's what you do. We're also both very family-oriented, as in when he is not at work, (or sleeping due to his weird hours), we are together. We both have our friends and our interests, but they have their place and time--secondary to our time as a family.
Also, the vast majority of meals in our house are eaten at our table as a family. This is the "norm" to him. Even on a road trip, he will stop and eat in the fast food place or whatever, it is not in his makeup to eat in a moving vehicle. Or eat a meal in front of a TV.
Having a stay-at-home mom is "normal" to him and he agrees this is what our children need, not a daycare.

I think his influence has been extremely good for all of us. back to the meals example, I was raised mainly eating in front of a TV or while reading a book, separate, alone. The table was a place you ate at the relatives' or on holidays....I am very happy that our children are not growing up with that 'norm'.

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#15 of 17 Old 06-13-2009, 09:20 AM
 
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ok, i dont actually live the relationship since me and my (ex) boyfriend and father of my daughter live separately. so we have a distance-family-life, sort to say.

i broke up with my ex when i was (unplanned) pregnant and returned from the us to germany. so he lives in the us and me and our daughter live in germany, for 3 years. we have only been communicating over the phone/email, but soon soon soon - next month: - we will be travelling to the us to visit him! :

despite the physical distance, we have a deep and good relationship. of course i am the one who takes care of dd and makes important decisions, but my ex and me discuss a lot and i try to involve him in our life as much as possible.

what i found great and made me happy is that we actually both have the same idea in regards to how to raise a child! we both want a loving environment for dd, we both see the need of individual and respectful and attached parenting including (extended) nursing, co-sleeping, physical contact to the child (like babywearing), critical opinion versus vaccination, cloth-diapers etc. i am very happy that we share the same opinion on that one! i would definitely not be very compromising on this issue

so that issue definitely works for us!

as far to the rest, i cannot really say much since our actual relationship was not very long.

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#16 of 17 Old 06-30-2009, 01:18 PM
 
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Hahaha, what works for us, honestly, is that we are pretty united in hatin' on The Man. Well, that's a part of it, anyway. There's no denying of white or male privilege in this house, we see each other's color, ethnicity, religion, gender, etc. We discuss race and racism a LOT-- not to mention gender, sexuality blah blah kyriarchy. Kinda like the Bible says to pray without ceasing. And it helps a lot that we consider ourselves (and are considered) a part of each others' families.
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#17 of 17 Old 07-01-2009, 09:41 AM
 
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What I enjoy:
2 different Valentine's days to celebrate.
A daughter who won't sunburn as easily as me
Having 2 teams to cheer for in the world cup (especially since the US is normally kicked out right away!!!)
Starting my baby of already speaking 2+ languages
Being able to say I don't understand if I get any weird questions from the inlaws

What works: Honestly, DH and I are so similar you'd never guess we didn't grow up in the same country (or even continent for that matter!). Even when we have differences, which rarely (if ever) are do to cultural issues, we always make a point to talk to each other about them before we go to other people. I'm still new at being a mommy to a biracial child but so far we haven't had too many problems.
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