I’m just your average Japanese/Caucasian girl that was born in Hawaii, grew up in Japan and Texas, and is fluent in English and Portuguese. I love my genetic and adopted cultural heritage, but sometimes it gets a bit watered down when it comes to how much I connect to each of them. It was already overwhelming being my own melting pot of cultures, and then I had kids!
I thought, “How am I supposed to raise my kids with an even more diverse cultural history thanks to my husband’s added heritage?”
It’s important to me that my kids have a good understanding and appreciation of their cultural heritage. I really believe that this will help them grow up with a stronger sense of identity and self-worth as they learn to celebrate who they are and where they came from. So, since life is already hectic, I looked for a way to simplify it all and found three main ways to naturally incorporate culture into their upbringing.
Celebrate culture with everyday living.
The more my kids are exposed to their cultures in our home, the more it normalizes them so they’re not obscure ideas. So, we celebrate our cultures through simple everyday things like the recipes we cook, the home decor we use, the crafts we make, and the music we listen to.
Educate with purposeful teaching.
It can’t be enough to passively showcase our cultural pride to our kids. So, we educate our children about their cultures through the books we read, the languages we speak, the traditions we celebrate, and the family history we tell them and preserve for them through heirlooms, photos, and journals.
Participate in cultural communities.
Being a multicultural parent can be overwhelming and confusing at times, but thankfully there are so many cultural communities designed to help. So, we participate in cultural communities online and on social media, travel to cultural landmarks, support multicultural groups and businesses (hello, Mosaic the Label!), and learn from other multicultural parents we personally know.
I hope that these three simple things can help my kids grow up to say they’re proud to be Japanese/Caucasian/Danish Americans. Now, if my husband and I could only agree on what languages to speak to them. He speaks fluent Spanish, but we all know that Portuguese is better 😉
Erika Sargent is the founder of Multicultural Parenting, an organization that helps parents raise their children with a better understanding and appreciation of their cultural heritage.