In this day and age children are influenced heavily by so many things outside of the home. For most adults, it’s very different from how they remember growing up. With biracial families becoming more and more prominent, the task of keeping our culture alive can be a bit daunting. Many find it difficult to teach modern-day kids traditional ways in everyday settings. But just because it’s tough doesn’t mean that culture in family should fade away.
Instilling your culture into your family may take some effort in the beginning but it will be well worth it. Cultural awareness and traditions play a major role in children’s development. Studies have shown that when children feel that they belong to something bigger than themselves they have a greater sense of self and more stable confidence through the years into adulthood. Through your efforts of teaching them to celebrate your culture and the culture they are part of, they are more apt to develop a strong foundation of acceptance, belonging, and social strengths.
If you’ve felt this same type of struggle, don’t worry! Here are some great ways to incorporate your culture into your family without stress.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “The easiest way to a person’s heart is through their stomach?” This is a great place to start! Every culture has dishes that are beloved or unique to them. Prepare a small traditional dish once a month and give yourself the opportunity to share with your family what makes it special. Maybe your grandmother used to make this dish for you as a child, or perhaps your Father taught you how to cut the meat just so, there are so many possibilities for cultural learning as well as family history. You can even get them involved in cooking the recipe and making it a family activity!
TERMS OF ENDEARMENT:
Did your grandmother call you, “mi hija,” “dolcezza,” or even “mo stoirín,”? Think of sweet ways your family members used to address you and speak to your children and spouse with the same terms of endearment to better acquaint them with the language.
Using unique and special terms of endearment towards your child will evoke positive feelings towards the words and the meaning behind it. This is a simple yet powerful way to instill your culture in family in a sweet and loving way. Bonus, their friends won’t know what it means so it can be a secret language between you and your children!
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Does your culture have a unique instrument? Most cultures do! Even if you don’t know how to play it, having it in your home proudly displayed gives it a chance to shine. You can even pull it out and give it a try every once in a while to bring up an opportunity to explain its place in your culture. Does your culture play the bagpipes? A ukulele? A traditional drum? All of these diverse musical instruments can play a pivotal role in introducing your culture to your kids.
All cultures have musical stylings. For thousands of years, explorers continually found these commonalities among every place they travel. Teaching or singing songs in your language or even a special lullaby you heard as a child is a wonderful way to keep your culture alive and strong amongst your children.
Start singing these songs to your little ones as babies when you get them dressed, bathe them, or tie their shoes. Sing them in the shower, while you’re cooking dinner or while you’re dusting. Basically, take every opportunity to sing these songs because the more they hear them, the more interested they’ll become. Using music as a segway to a conversation allowing you to teach your family about your culture is a beautiful tool.
Did you greet your Aunts and Uncle’s with a kiss on each cheek whenever you saw them? Were you told not to sweep dust through a door frame to avoid bad luck? Did the tooth fairy leave crayons and coloring books instead of candy? Any tradition, whether big or small, can have an impact. Some may seem silly to you now that you’re an adult but sharing it with your family can feel nostalgic and endearing.
Isn’t it funny how you don’t think you notice what is on the walls of your childhood house as a kid but you see a photo or visit as an adult and it immediately makes you feel at home? Now it’s your turn! Find a unique print of your country’s flag, display a traditional tool or kitchen utensil, anything to add a fun nod to your culture is a win! It will spark conversation as well as be subtly noticeable to your children as they see it repeatedly in their daily lives. Showing pride is a great way to share your culture in family settings and can make a big impact.
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KEEP THE FOLKLORE ALIVE:
Each culture has stories that are unique to their area. Share these stories at bedtime or while you’re waiting in a drive-thru line for a fun way to keep the stories going. If you don’t know any don’t fret! A simple internet search will help you find several folklore stories that you and your family can learn together.
Again, think back to your childhood. What special memories do you have as a child during the holidays? Did you light candles? Sing songs together? Break bread as a family? Cultures all over the world are known to have meaningful and unique traditions, especially for holidays, coming of age events, or weddings. Sharing these traditions can be a really fun activity to do as an immediate family or even as an extended family.
It may be obvious but having a special set of traditional clothing either for yourself or for your children is a great way to show pride in your culture. Wear it for a holiday, a party or an event and show by example that your culture is important to you. Don’t want to go all out? That’s okay too! By simply wearing a t-shirt sporting your country’s name or flag still shows the same sentiment of pride for where you derived from. Whether you got it at a souvenir shop or it dons an obvious cultural pattern, the message will get across.
Showing pride, creating opportunities, and staying consistent in small, simple introductions can really help children to feel like they are part of something wonderful. Just remember, it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Small introductions through normal day to day life situations can create wonderful opportunities to instill your culture in family and help your children form and sustain a wonderful sense of belonging. As parents, the best way to teach something is by example. So keep trying, keep cultivating, and keep your culture strong for generations to come.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on Cultural Understanding: Teach Your Kids About the World Around Them.
Photo Credits: www.mylynwoodphotography.com