Note: This post was first published on March 14, 2013. As part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs carnival theme on heritage, and the contribution of various members. It’s been updated on May 14, 2019.
I have a few friends that have moved to their spouse’s heritage home country to further their children’s language learning and immerse them in the culture. I’ve been following their adventures, and journeys on Instagram, and what a gift they are giving their children!
As I see their journey unfold, I begin to question myself: Have I done enough to teach my child about his multicultural heritage?
While many families have been fortunate enough to be able to move to their’s (or spouse’s) heritage home countries many others can’t. I can’t just simply uproot our family from our home in the USA and move to Puerto Rico. Though that would be ideal, and if I could I would do it in a heartbeat.
With that being said, let’s read my thoughts and what other multicultural moms on teaching heritage to their children shared a few years ago, and today… It’s all still relevant and important.
Teaching Heritage To Our Children
I was thrilled with the theme for the multicultural kids blogging carnival because one of the reasons why I started blogging is to use it as a resource to educate on race, culture, and diversity to my child. I have a post on teaching my son heritage here.
However, I want to share an excerpt of my post:
“His heritage is his identity, and I pray that teaching our little one of where he comes from will help him embrace his individuality. Creating a sense of pride, of belonging, and knowing where he comes from will promote his character growth, and enable him to defend himself against prejudice and racism. Where he lives will not solely determine his identity, but so will his parent’s contribution on passing on his heritage.”
The group’s main focus is on raising global citizens. So how do they teach heritage to their children?
Teaching heritage to your family
Celebrating a 15 year anniversary proves that living in a bicultural family works especially when both spouses are committed to keeping their culture and heritage alive.
Annika from Journal of a Bilingual family shares how she celebrates their 15 yr. bicultural anniversary, and her accomplishments on teaching heritage to their daughters in their French and Finnish family.
What I especially love about her post is how this family keeps in touch with their Grandmother who in turns shares with them stories of their Dad’s family traditions via Skype! As a family, they always root for both countries, celebrate bicultural holidays, and make sure to watch French movies. Annika’s wish is that their daughters feel both French and Finnish, not half this and half that. I think she’s doing a pretty good job at that! To read more about this wonderful family, and how they teach heritage to their children go here
Flor from Little Nómadas
gives us examples on how she teaches heritage to her children: “I believe in learning by watching, listening, and doing. So I make sure my kids get the full experience when exposed to cultural aspects of my heritage. This requires being an example, a role model, for them. I need to embrace, love, live and breath my culture in order for them to really acquire it! They see mama making Arepas, carefully selecting the ingredients, playing my favorite folkloric music from Venezuela, they copy me! They imitate and the process becomes natural!”
Teaching heritage by wearing traditional clothing
Traditional clothing is such an intricate part of a culture and heritage.
Ayesha from Jeddah Mom
shares how she uses traditional clothing to foster heritage in her home: “I’ve found clothes to be very helpful in reminding children of our culture. In the beginning, when my children were babies, I bought traditional clothes for them to wear on special occasions or for weekend prayers. Now that my kids are older, I find them choosing to wear such clothes more often at home compared to me who was shy to wear them at their age. Also, I find that because they wear our traditional clothes and hear us speak our mother tongue often, they are very comfortable with their identity.”
Teaching heritage through cultural community events
Johana from Mama Tortuga
shares how she teaches heritage to her kids. She’s very active in her community and partakes in many cultural events. “In this day and age, as a family I think is very important to honor our heritage in cultural ways as well as advocating for the people of our culture in our society! Culture is not only our traditions but our group of people as well! When our children see us being active in our communities, they feel proud!”
Teaching heritage through story time and play
There is no better way for small children to learn about another culture than through learning and play. This is exactly what Leanna from All Done Monkey has done by hosting a playgroup to celebrate Costa Rica’s Independence Day. The book she used for story time was The Parrot Tico Tango set in Costa Rica’s jungle. The best part of the story time was that she had an activity to go along with it. It was very interactive, and hands on! Not only was she teaching heritage to her son, but she was also teaching her son’s friends about his heritage through story time, and a fun game! Check out all of the fun details, and the activity linked to the storybook here.
Monica from Mommy Maestra
loves to share family stories! Here’s how she teaches family heritage: “Family stories are one of my favorite ways to share our family heritage. I tell them stories of my own childhood, and of other family members. We talk about traditions, holidays, customs and so much more. I show them pictures if I have them, but they aren’t always necessary.”
Teaching heritage by honoring ancestors
A beautiful way to teach heritage to your children is by remembering & celebrating your ancestors. Kristen from Toddling in the Fast Lane is passing on to her daughter the memories of her grandparents by creating a Day of the Dead Mini-Altar in honor of her grandparents. (El Día de los Muertos is a Mexican tradition and celebrated in many countries in Latin American.) What really touched me about her post is how she created this mini altar with such love, and care. She took into consideration every single detail for the altar; from the picture to the flowers, and to have her daughter decorate the sugar skulls. It was a labor of love beautifully created by both mother and daughter to remember their ancestors. To read more about how Kristen teaches heritage to her daughter by celebrating “El Día de los Muertos” click here
Teaching heritage as adoptive families
Becky from Kid World Citizen has a wonderful post with 14 ways to incorporate birth culture to adoptive parents. What I like about this list is that any parent who wants to teach heritage to their children can use it as well. I absolutely love her list, and I want to share two that really “popped” out to me as I read her list: 1) Become part of the community and 2) Host culture at home. For both of these you need to reach out to others in order to teach heritage to your children, and sometimes step out of your comfort zone. This plus more awesome ideas and suggestions to incorporate cultural heritage to your children can be found here
Teaching heritage as educators
Annie wrote an interesting article on behalf of Global Kids Oz with tips on being a great multicultural teacher. I love how she simplifies it by following four simple steps: 1) Do your research, 2) Understand the family, 3) Learn about their taboos, and 4) Symbols.
Today we have so many multicultural families that everyone with or without kids should follow these four simple steps. We all need to educate ourselves on other’s heritage and culture. This will help to avoid discrimination, racism, and bigotry. To read the full article click here.
Teaching heritage through food
Varya from Creative World of Varya has shared that her family has their own culture by adapting the best of the heritage from both sides of the family. However, there is one thing she really enjoys about her Russian heritage that she wants to pass on to her children, and that is cooking and eating! Cooking for family and friends during special occasions is a big deal. This process takes a few days of prepping, cooking, and freezing to cook later. I love how Varya is teaching heritage to her children through food, and gatherings of family and friends. These are memories that will last a lifetime! Varya is right on track to teaching her children about this wonderful heritage! To read more about how Varya teaches heritage to her children click here.
Amanda from Turning Dutch also teaches heritage through food. “My children learn about their cultural heritage through food: it may be little things like Branston pickle on their Dutch cheese sandwiches, or crumpets and scones brought back from England or more traditional British dinners that their Dutch friends don’t eat. I also share stories with them about life growing up in England – how different school was for me than it is for them for example or stories of Bonfire Night. We also bring in cultural traditions to special days, such as Christmas.”
Food is hands-down the best way to teach heritage to your children.
Adrienne from The Multilingual Home shares her experience: “We have been showing our kids how to make traditional food from our countries. My husband is Turkish, so he shows the kid how to roll out flatbread and make lahmacun (pizza). We also make a big batch of kofte (little bulgur meatballs) and sit on the ground and roll them together like they do in Turkey. For my American side, I have a family cookbook that my mom made and we pick a few recipes from it every month. It reminds me of when I used to make the same recipes with my grandma growing up. Bread and cookies are our favorites! I found it nice to connect to our heritage that way.”