Bill Belew has raised 2 bi-cultural kids, now 34 and 30. And he and his wife are now parenting a 3rd, Mia, who is 8.
This blog is about raising the kids bilingually and bi-culturally.
Four years back when I came to United States I learned that having diverse experiences is useful. There are advantages and disadvantages to raising your kids bilingually and bi-culturally.
Let’s focus on the advantages:
Raising kids with diverse experience is good because it will polish their aptitude skills.
Every community and demographic cultural has a different mind-set and a distinct approach to target things. The days are gone when a single talent can retain your job. Today you need multiple skills to keep up in life.
Parents in India send their kids to coaching centers to learn other languages. But if their kid is born in the United States then even they speak only their mother tongue at home, they won’t be surprised if their child says ‘HI’ in Chinese.
In India the child needs to learn but here s/he automatically grasps certain words from classmates.
Every child has the potential of learning more than one language.
When they grow up, finding a job might be easier.
Today most every company is multinational, hence the need for bilingual talent. This ability will help in raising company productivity.
Some parents are scared of losing grip on their mother tongue if they speak in English with their children or their kids will be diverted to Japanese culture if they have Korean or Japanese friends. This is the biggest insecurity parents have when raising their kids bilingually.
However, I have a friend who is from India and his wife is Chinese. His 6-year old daughter speaks Mandarin equally well as Hindi.
Even before she started going to kindergarten she speaks two foreign languages while still living in United States.
By the age of 6, she can speak Chinese, Hindi and of, course English.
Today, the world has shrunk into a village and globalization will never come to an end if technology keeps growing like this.
Therefore, you definitely cannot rely on a single language.
If you are brought up bi-culturally then you can do well in business because you can understand well the values and ethics of different demographics.
Children who grow up multilingual have a better understanding of cultural differences if/when the time comes for them to fit into another culture.
Living in India I used to hate certain nationals based on what I saw on TV and learnt from history. I have nationals from every continent in my MBA class. This helps me to understand people a little better and I can say ” I was wrong.”
Talk to Bill and others about their experiences raising bi-cultural Japanese-American kids.