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.
First of all I would like to appreciate the good work done on this website.
I found the articles so indulging that I read so many posts one after the other as all the posts are very informative and interesting. I was just going through this post on “Raising the child bi-culturally” and I can totally relate to it. Being a mother I also have to take care that my child has the Indian values as well as understand the American culture that they live in.
I have seen families where the parents just focus on maintaining their Indian heritage without giving the importance
to the world that they live in.
This always leads to the generation gap and in the long run the children stop listening to their parents. The children feel that their parents have outdated expectations.
To avoid this from happening I believe it is important to have a proper conversation. Parents should understand the viewpoints of children as well as also explain why they are asking to follow specific things. This will make sense to both the parents and children and both will have a better perception of the cultures they belong to.
I belong to a joint family where I grew up with lots of uncles, aunties, grandma, grandpa along with my immediate family. And many of the Indians also grew up in the same environment. So our thinking emphasizes on making good decisions considering the views of all members of the family.
However, the western/American culture emphasizes more on the Individuality or independence or self identity. Therefore there is a direct contrast in the values of collectivity vs individuality.
It is very important to have a better picture of what “Indian American” is where we can have our Indian values as well as have room to accommodate American culture as well. If this is not done in a proper way it will lead to the feeling of alienation from both cultures and the children will feel they cannot please their parents or themselves.
So the most important thing is to communicate. Only through proper communications will the children be able to understand that they are part of both the cultures.
Engaging them in different activities such as visits to the temples, teaching them the mother tongue, having Indian food will help tell them that they belong to Indian culture. Also by making friends with fellow classmates in school, watching media and everyday surroundings will help them understand that they are growing up in an American culture and therefore they need to accommodate both cultures in their life.
It is indeed very important to help our children develop a bi-cultural personality, to help them make better decisions in life.
They will be able to pick the best values from both cultures that they belong to. It will imbibe more confidence in them as well as let them make better decisions confidently!
Talk to Bill and others about their experiences raising bi-cultural Japanese-American kids.