We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.
The metaphor of a mosaic accurately reflects the reality of multicultural/multiracial families in the U.S. and worldwide. While certainly there are similarities shared, it is important to honor the differences that create the unique family identity. At times, this can be tricky.
For parents, it may be helpful reading real family portraits of real intercultural families just to gain perspectives and ideas of how to address the lending of cultures in family dynamics.
Meet Chloe, a sweet 4 year old living in California. Chloe’s father is from Cameroon. Her mother, Julie, shared some of her thoughts on raising her daughter multiculturally.
What cultures are included in your family?
White, Catholic, middle-class American culture + upper class Cameroonian.
How do you share and teach aspects of your cultures with your child?
Through family holidays and traditions; teaching her about our roots, story-telling; her father shares books on Bassa, his Cameroonian language.
What are the challenges of raising a multicultural child?
I think that a lot of the challenges parents face is dependent largely on which cultures we’re talking about, whether one or both parents are of cultures other than the country they live in, and how strongly associated they are with their cultures. Many children, even from parents with strong roots of another country than that of the child’s birthplace have a difficult time with their sense of identity. Children of mixed race feel this even more so.
Identification is easier when there is an effort to have children take a trip to the parents’ home-country on a regular basis. Family connections are made, familiarity with language and customs help children identify with the culture.
What advice do you have for parents of multicultural families?
I don’t believe in a super prescriptive way of raising kids. Personally, I think it’s good not to be too rigid in instilling specific cultural beliefs/traditions. Let your child develop some curiosity and exploration of identity and self on his/her own. If cultural elements are a natural part of your daily life, they will also likely be a part of your child’s as well.
How do you include your family’s cultures in your child’s upbringing? How do you help in developing their identity? Please share your thoughts.