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Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

My Children’s Identity (according to themselves)

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Over the weekend, I announced I was going to cook Moroccan couscous for the first time. Usually, this dish is my husband’s domain.

My kids seemed horrified. “But you’re not Moroccan,” My five-year-old informed me. “Only Baba can make that because he’s Moroccan.”

“What are you Yasmine?” My husband asked.

“I’m Moroccan.” And after a moment she added, “And German.” The German part was interesting since she knows she was born in Germany (but does not have an EU passport), and we talk about Germany frequently since her aunt and two uncles live there.

I tried to explain that even though I am not Moroccan, I can still cook couscous. “You don’t have to be Moroccan to cook food from Morocco.”

This troubled her so she corrected me. “No. Me, Lila and Baba are Moroccan. So only we can cook couscous.”

“Laila, what are you?” My husband asked our three-year-old.

“I’m Moroccan.”

I think it’s sweet that my daughters don’t realize they are American yet. Someone asked me why we don’t make more of an effort to explain to them they are half and half, as in correct their own assumptions about their identity. Growing up in the U.S., their American identity will no doubt come to overshadow any other identity as they get older.  There’s no real need to emphasize their Americanness as it’s a given because of where they are being raised. If we were in another country, it would be different. Plus, who are we to correct how they want to identify themselves? I smile every time I witness the pride they have in being Moroccan and hope they hold onto that forever.

© 2012, Stephanie Meade. All rights reserved.

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Stephanie is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of InCultureParent. She has two Moroccan-American daughters (ages 5 and 6), whom she is raising, together with her husband, bilingual in Arabic and English at home, while also introducing Spanish. After many moves worldwide, she currently lives in Berkeley, California.

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1 Comment
  1. CommentsAnnabelle   |  Wednesday, 13 June 2012 at 9:10 am

    I wholeheartedly agree…. who are we to correct their own assumptions about identity (unless it is just very random maybe).?

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