I’m American, my husband is Turkish and we live in France, therefore we are a good mix of cultures. Both my husband and I would like to raise our three children to be conscious and aware of the countries and cultures they are from. It’s important that parents teach their origins and cultures to their children as it constitutes an integral part of a child’s education and also helps them form their multicultural identity.
Below I will be sharing some ways to encourage discovering a cultural identity with an art activity at the end.
“When the cultures are so blended and the background so fluid, our children need our help to invent a positive identity of their own; an identity that is not defined by one sole culture.
In order to build a strong identity and a confident sense of self, our children need to feel proud of their cultural background. They also need to learn how to be open and accepting towards whatever culture they now find themselves in which through integration will inevitably come to shape their identity too,“ writes Elisavet Arkolaki in her guide “How to Raise Confident Multicultural Children.”
Cultural assimilation is on the rise and it is causing many to forget where their cultural roots are. Learning about cultural traditions will make your’s and spouse’s culture seem very special and unique and it also plays an important role in shaping our morals and principles. Here are 7 tips to get you started.
Discover your multicultural identity
1. Get grandparents involved
Ask children to interview their grandparents or extended family about their childhood, their family traditions, and history. Make a family tree. Research the family name. This also provides an opportunity to speak a minority language and learn about manners.
Travel to your or your spouse’s home country to allow your children to witness first hand the culture in action. For example, take them to a market and show them fruits and vegetables. Take them to a historical site. Even travel within the country where you live to learn about their cultural traditions.
3. Learn with food
Kids love baking and spending time in the kitchen. Try to plan on making a favorite traditional recipe at least once a month. For example share the dish’s history or origin, how it can be made and eaten and why it is your favorite recipe. Turn this into another opportunity to speak in your native language as well.
4. Attend cultural events
Children often find it challenging to fit in with their peers, especially if they are not from the same country. Attending cultural events allow your children to meet up with the community. They could also meet other children of their age and cultural background.
5. Educate with books and movies
We’ve started a movie night with traditional snacks in our house and we are watching childhood favorites of mine and my husband’s. For example, we were watching Free Willy in English and an older version of Tarzan in Turkish.
6. Learn the language
The second or third generation of immigrant children may not know the minority language. Take advantage of that fact and teach them their heritage language. There are many reasons why you should and ways to encourage language learning at home.
7. Explore the creative side of your culture through art and music. Make it fun.
I realized my children may never be taught American or Turkish history in a French classroom, therefore it’s important that my husband and I share our knowledge about these subjects. We were inspired to discover and learn about both our countries of origin of origins plus the country we live in by the book “Hands around the World”, by Susan Milord.
We picked the activity from the week of June 12th which is focused on learning about nations around the world. We learned about the constitutions of each country, the origins of the country’s name, the national emblem and the anthem. My husband also learned a lot about Turkey’s history that he didn’t know previously. For example, he discovered that his last name sounds like it’s Italian because Italy aided in the founding of Turkey. We talked about how interesting it was that the national emblems of each country are different as well. For example, Marianne represents France, a bald eagle symbolizes the US and though Turkey doesn’t have one, they often refer to the star and crescent.
We decided to use painter’s tape to make each country’s flags on a canvas. My kids enjoyed putting on and taking off the tape, star stickers and making the stencils for the flags. Just a little note, our American flag has fewer stripes than the original flag because the canvas was a little small. We discussed how the French and American flags both had stripes and the Turkish flag had a crescent moon – a symbol of Islam.
Learning about cultures and traditions is one of the best gifts parents can give a child. But everyone engages with their own culture at different levels and time of their life, so take your time in sharing it through one of these seven tips with your child to help him discover his own cultural identity.
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2 thoughts on “7 Tips to Find Your Multicultural Identity”
What an excellent post.
I was born in Morocco, raised in France, speaking Spanish and vacationing to Spain.
I moved to the United States 35 years ago.
I have lived 11 years in Michigan, 4 in Alabama, 10 in England, and 10 in Kentucky.
Multicultural is my middle name.
That is very interesting, thank you for sharing!
I’m originally from Kentucky near Cincinnati. Where were you living?
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