Sunday, December 28th, 2014

10 Things You Should Know Before Adopting a Child


10 Things You Should Know Before Adopting a Child
What is it like to be the parent of an adoptive child? For us, a transracial family, formed through international adoption, this is what has been like for us, five years in. Here is a list of 10 things you may want to consider before sending in that adoption application.   We are conspicuous. Even though we live in Los Angeles, in a very diverse neighborhood, we stick out. People stare at us. People make comments, some nice, and some ridiculous. A trip to the grocery store can feel like a game of dodge ball, “Yes, I am their mother”, “Yep, they are real brother and sister”, “I’m sorry, that is a very personal question”, and refreshingly “Thank you, I think they are adorable too”.  Read more »

Is Motherhood More Bitter Than Sweet?

Motherhood is more difficult than I thought it would be, a lot more difficult.  Read more »

Why Diversity in Children’s Books Matters

I just finished reading Lac Su's memoir, "I Love Yous are for White People," a story about growing up poor and Vietnamese American in Los Angeles dodging gangs, alcohol and an abusive father.  Read more »

Thankfulness, Insecurity and Adoption: A Messy Lesson

My daughter Meazi’s second grade class visits an assisted living facility every month.  Read more »

Preparing our Children for Racism Part II—From Understanding to Action

If you missed Part I of the series, Laying the Groundwork, you can catch up on it here.   After my six-year-old’s first brush with racism, I had to act. How do we prepare our children for racism? Start early, remember and examine our own experiences, practice coping methods ahead of time, build self-esteem and a strong sense of identity, teach them to tell an adult, and show them how to take action.  Read more »

Preparing our Children for Racism — Part 1

Part 1: Laying the Groundwork   I always knew that this day would come and have been preparing my children for it since they were two or three. I read books and articles, hoping to put it off as long as possible. I secretly gave them tools to fight with, without actually telling them what the fight was all about. I did not want to taint their innocence, but I knew they had to be ready.  Read more »

The Sleep Habits of Orphans

From the time my kids have been home, they have demonstrated some strange ideas on sleeping. On Friday nights, we let them have more freedom to sleep all together, or in playrooms or around the house. (Usually they sleep two to a room.) One time my girls came downstairs while I was cleaning the kitchen on a Friday night really excited. They were in their pajamas, with pillows, blankets, toys in hand.  Read more »

How to Fail at a Passover Seder

My Passover seder was a failure. On the first two nights of Passover (or the first night if you live in Israel), Jews all over the world gather in homes for highly ritualized meals called seders.  Dating back approximately 2000 years, the seders combine blessings, rituals, the eating of specific foods, storytelling and singing.  As you can imagine, there is a lot of ground to cover.  Read more »

Bulgarian Cuisine: Adopting a New Culture

A few months ago, my husband and I had the pleasure of eating like Bulgarians for a night, thanks to our generous host and hostess, Nick and Milena Koshar.   The Koshars are from Bulgaria but have lived in the U.S. for nearly two decades now. We were connected with Nick and Milena through what I like to call the adoption woodwork effect. That is, by way of the adoption journey, you meet all kinds of new people or are connected in a new way to people you already knew  Read more »

What is Home for My Adopted Son?

I’ll never forget the day I pulled into our driveway and my then two-year-old son, who really only knew a dozen words at the time, looked out from his car seat at our small white house in Los Angles and said, “Home.” He had only been with us for about a year and a half at the point. “This is good,” I thought. “Yes, Melese. You are home.”   This past Christmas I planned a special day for my kids.  Read more »

What Sucks about Being a Nanny

When friends hear the nanny position that has served as my main gig for the past year and a half is ending, the most common question I’m asked is, "But won’t you miss him?"   Him. The blonde-haired baby with whom I’ve spent all this time, the same child who calls my name as soon as my car pulls up, who kisses me on the mouth and tells me daily he loves me, his diction ridiculously clear for a toddler.  Read more »

The Election of President Obama and Whether My Asian American Kids Could Really Be President

My parents always emphasized that although I was ethnically Chinese, my citizenship was American because I was born in America, “You can even be president someday—unlike us—because you are a natural-born citizen.”   In school, we learned the three requirements to become president of the United States were to be a natural-born citizen, at least thirty-five years old, and have resided in the United States for the past fourteen years.  Read more »

I’m Your Nanny, Do You Really Trust Me?

The first week of my new job coincided with the heavily media-covered murder of two children by their nanny in the Upper East Side of New York City. This horrific tragedy, in which the young siblings were brutally stabbed to death before the killer tried to take her own life, was a frequent subject of conversation between me and my boss in our first days together.  Read more »

Is Hanukkah the Jewish Christmas?

In recent years, Hanukkah has become increasingly commercialized.  Perhaps in an effort to keep up with the shopping frenzy ethos of the Thanksgiving—Christmas “holiday” season, my children (and many others) have come to view Hanukkah as an eight-day present-receiving extravaganza. The holiday itself is about the struggle to retain tradition and religious identity in the face of Hellenistic assimilation and is important in terms of re-dedication to core values as well as energy conservation.  Read more »

Celebrating Thanksgiving as Jewish-Americans

As we prepared our Thanksgiving meal last week, my wife and I discussed whether to continue our quaint, though somewhat cliché, precedent of having each of our attendees, starting with our children, recount what they were thankful for.  It takes a while to complete, while guests are salivating over the food on the table, and the answers are often trite (my family, the food and the latest toys they have).  Read more »

Creating Our Own Thanksgiving Asian-American Style

My mother is one of the world’s greatest cooks. She never reads any cookbooks, and her dishes are never fancy or complicated. Yet every night we sit down to a delicious dinner of soup, greens, tofu or bean sprouts, stir fried chicken or beef, and rice. The sounds of the vegetables hitting the oil and the fragrant smells wafting through the house call us to dinner before my mom can.  Read more »

What do you mean you don’t vote?

We came up over the rise as the highway curved and my breath caught in my throat. The Washington Monument. The Jefferson Memorial. So beautiful and serene in the morning mist.   My uncle was driving me into Washington DC for the day, and I suddenly realized that I have not been here since I was a child. I quickly flashed through my memory of our family photo albums and I recalled that photo of me and my cousins and aunties standing on the steps of the National Zoo after seeing the pandas.  Read more »

The International Adoption Experience: Living in the Great Unknown

I’m a compulsive list maker, and I write (full-time) for a living. Deadlines and “to dos” are always with me. The pressure of an approaching deadline can be stressful, but when that blog post, research project or magazine article is delivered, the relief is a beautiful thing.   The international adoption process though? It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.  Read more »

The Moment I First Fell for a Man

When I first met Guo Jian, I had already noticed him. I was in a music venue in Beijing called “Mao Live House” in June 2007.   After the performances, I was hanging out with my American friend Traci and her friends. She has lived in Beijing for almost two decades and so she always had a habit of introducing me to interesting new people.  Read more »

Mommies Always Come Back (except when they don’t)

Three years ago, I met my children at an orphanage in Ethiopia. We had been told that our daughter Meazi was two years old, and that her baby brother was eight months old. When we met them we knew we needed to either call the Guinness Book of World Records and report “The world’s most brilliant toddler,” or talk to some doctors and dentists to figure out Meazi’s actual age.  Read more »

Dear Infertility Patient

Dear Infertility Patient, I sat in that seat you're sitting in. Comfy, isn’t it? Nice, rich, dark leather? Ask the receptionist for some water. They put lemons in it, very refreshing. Oh, see that door behind the front desk? That is the door the celebrities use. That big movie star with the new twins, she snuck in through there. Before you get started I want to tell you a couple of things, a couple of things that I wish someone had told me many years ago.  Read more »

The Only Things Your Baby Needs

Jail is an interesting place to observe parenting in practice. I’ve been alternately appalled and impressed by the methods mothers employ to placate and distract their youngsters during the interminable process of waiting in line to visit a friend in jail. Moms can’t let their child run around or throw a tantrum for fear of losing the opportunity to visit their incarcerated loved one.  Read more »

Why Adopted is an Overused Adjective

Lately, I’ve been traveling a lot for work. I invariably embark upon each trip thinking I’ll use the countless wasted hours waiting for delayed flights and shuttling to and from airports to catch up on emails or prepare for a presentation. Only I don’t like flying very much. To compensate for my anxiety, I load up on treats—glossy-paged treats filled with celebrities engaged in activities the editors at US Weekly, People or InTouch would have me believe resemble the reality of my own day-to-day life.  Read more »

A Taste of Summer at the Japanese-American Obon Festival

My daughter Hao Hao and I were at an outdoor music festival when she first spied the little girl. About 3 years old, in a pink Hello Kitty dress, and one long brown curly ponytail, the little girl was dancing and twirling and hopping and flopping along with the music in front of the stage. “Awww, so cute.” “That was you, not too long ago.” (Then the little girl tried to climb onto the stage for her adoring fans, “That was definitely you.  Read more »

How a Love of Ginger Tea Helped our Multicultural Family

Ella had been in America for about six months. We were making a connection but there were struggles. Adopted from Ethiopia, Ella was enjoying her new country but grieving over the loss of her homeland. She had endured much loss in her seven years, seeing her mother die and dealing with the inevitability of her father dying of the uncontrolled HIV virus in his system.  Read more »

Why the Car is Bad for Your Kids

I’m a strange candidate to argue for a car-free approach to childrearing. As a resident of Los Angeles, I practically live in my car. And If I’m being completely honest, I can’t even ride a bike. But unlike those critiquing cars for environmental reasons or even social (the argument has been made that cars are essentially tools of isolation), my concerns are child centered.  Read more »

Why the Diane Tran Happy Ending Bothers Me

Last month, eight graduating seniors surnamed Nguyen (pronounced Win) from Presentation High School in San Jose, California (my alma mater) tickled the Asian-American blogosphere by combining their senior quotes in the high school yearbook. One or two words under each photo created their “Nguyen-ing” “We know what you’re thinking and no we’re not related.  Read more »

Adopting a Culture: One Family’s Journey to Becoming Ethiopian

When we first decided to adopt, we initially considered China.  We chose that country, in large part, because it was familiar. We knew a number of families who adopted little girls from there.  When that comfortable choice was not an option because of changes to the program, we were faced with the uncertainty of choosing from those countries available to couples our age.  Read more »

Can You be Muslim and English?

We recently celebrated St. George’s Day here in England, the day of the country’s patron saint.  My children dressed in red, white and blue for their schools’ St. George’s celebrations.  For most people this is no longer a celebration tied to religion, but about celebrating all things English.  I have always felt very conflicted about my identity—am I English, British, Pakistani, Punjabi or none of these?  Can you be more than one? Growing up, my parents made it very clear to me that we were Pakistani.  Read more »

The Secrets of Raising an Enlightened Child – Part III

In this installment, I would like to address that often difficult period around puberty. I will also give an example of applying mindfulness to a particular incident. In our Buddhist tradition, the major conditioning of a human being is thought to take place during the early years of development. The post-pubescent years through the early twenties is when these foundations are tested.  Read more »

Exploring Masturbation in Children and Other Taboos

When I told some people that I wanted to write about childhood sexuality, they were understandably wary. I wouldn’t touch that with a ten-foot pole, was the way one friend worded it. They were only partially reassured when I promised that I wouldn’t be advocating having sex with children, only acknowledging the inherent sexuality children have from birth.  Read more »

Lessons I do not want to teach my children–about Dharun Ravi, Trayvon Martin, Shaima Alawadi

After Indian American Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was convicted of bias intimidation, I sent the very long New Yorker article about the case to my teenagers so that they can understand what kind of digital footprint they leave whenever they do anything online, and to remind them that regardless of what they might actually be doing, they need to be aware that sometimes those actions may be perceived quite differently by others, including people who do not understand technology and culture, including people with power.  Read more »

The Secrets of Raising an Enlightened Child — Part II

In the last segment in this series, I introduced how to raise an enlightened child, beginning with some basic Buddhist approaches to parenting. In this article, I will focus specifically on the period of development (Skandha) between infancy and about eight to nine years of age. Before I begin, I would like to reiterate the Buddhist intention in raising a child (in addition to basic nutrition and health of course!).  Read more »

Why the Tooth Fairy is American in our Multicultural Home

With six kids from six to 14 years old it is often hard to keep up with all the teeth falling out. Even my 20-year-old last year had four wisdom teeth pulled and seriously resembled one of the Twilight characters, pale with a few drops of blood emerging from the side of her mouth. I have a litany of tooth fairy excuses that I have resorted to when I forget a child’s tooth has fallen out.  Read more »

Explaining How Babies are Born to my Adopted Son

Last week, we learned that our son Jin has been telling his teacher that he has a baby sister, named Quesadilla. Jin does not have any siblings. He has what in my opinion is a spectacular imagination. For Jin, nothing is what it seems--a purple block is a salt shaker, a salt shaker is a strawberry smoothie and his blankets are his babies. He cares for these babies, feeds them, and rocks them to sleep.  Read more »

Linsanity’s Impact on My Son

I missed the first week of Linsanity because I was caught up in fighting the racist China-fear-mongering Pete Hoekstra political ad that aired during the Superbowl. I remember feeling beleaguered at the time, like we still had a looooong way to go until the elections in November, and if this was just the beginning… I was surprised to learn that the mainstream considered Jeremy Lin an unknown who had come from out of nowhere, because even though I know nothing about sports, even I knew who Jeremy Lin was (courtesy of Ryan Higa and Kev Jumba).  Read more »

Why I Won’t (Yet) Deconstruct Purim for my Kids

We recently celebrated Purim, a holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from near annihilation in ancient Persia.  According to the story, King Ahashverosh of Persia selects a Jew named Esther to be his new queen.  Soon after, the king appoints a new chief advisor named Haman.  Haman is enraged when a Jew named Mordehai (who is Esther’s uncle) won’t bow down to him.  Read more »

How to Raise an Enlightened Child — Part I

If there is one question that I am often asked as a Buddhist minister it is, "How can I raise an enlightened child?" As the Buddhist tradition continues to rapidly grow and influence our culture, I believe that it is a most legitimate question. Let me respond here as both the parent of a wondrous nineteen-year-old son, the spouse of an early childhood expert (my beloved wife of 25 years) and as a practitioner (nearly 40 years) and teacher of Buddhism (over twenty years).  Read more »

Toddler Food Wars

Lately the families I work for are dealing with issues around food. In one household, I am told that the toddler has decided not to eat her dinner one evening and so as a consequence I am not to give her any food if she asks. They hand me a full sippy-cup of milk that the toddler has disdained and mention that is her only option. I felt uncomfortable denying food but also knew she was generally well fed and that if she didn’t eat anything that night, it would in no way compromise her nutritionally.  Read more »

What do Baklava and Doro Wat Have in Common?

When I was growing up, cooking and baking were a way for me to escape the problems of the day and ultimately find a new vantage point.  I remember lonely Friday nights during middle school where I would get lost in baking cookies.  During the measuring and mixing, I would stop obsessing about my status at school or the day’s slights.  When the cookies were cooling, my perspective would have altered just enough so my world seemed a little brighter and my problems almost manageable.  Read more »

Islam’s Take on Children and Kinship Ties

Preserving kinship ties is considered to be a very important part of Islam. This generally refers to maintaining good relationships with both your close and extended relatives and upholding the rights Islam gives to them. There is a prophetic tradition in Islam that says, "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship.  Read more »

Explaining History and Racism to Grandpa

Two years ago, my father’s choir at the University of Hawaii was invited to sing at a big international diversity concert at Lincoln Center in New York for Martin Luther King (MLK) Day. Choirs from around the world had been invited to sing together, and a Hawaiian choir adds instant diversity with its multicultural population of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Portuguese, Caucasians and native Hawaiians.  Read more »

The Globalization of Childcare: The Consequences of Trading Love for Work

Here in Los Angeles, there’s a listserv that features ads from people looking for nannies and from nannies looking for work. There’s the occasional reminder posted about the rules: a place where posts are restricted to ads. Another clarifies that conversation should be shifted to an alternative forum. The rule was broken recently when a virtual riot broke out in response to a potential employer’s offer.  Read more »

My Inadvertently Open, Ethiopian Adoption—A Steep Learning Curve

In the beginning it was about wanting a baby. I desperately wanted a baby. Every single cell in my body was screaming to be pregnant. My late twenties and all of my thirties were dedicated to the goal of getting pregnant. I loved my husband and was sure that this pregnancy, and its inevitable outcome, a living child, would be the greatest fulfilled expression of love between us.  Read more »

Remembering Their Birth Mother’s Face

My first Christmas with my Ethiopian children came 10 months after they were officially adopted into our family. During the year we settled in, we learned that one of our daughters was still heavily grieving the loss of her mother two years earlier. One of the most difficult struggles for Ella was that she was starting to forget her mother’s face.  Read more »

How Becoming Muslim Helped Me Like Christmas

Around 10 years ago, I stopped celebrating Christmas with my family. I opted not to travel from New York to Florida and spent three days cleaning my apartment. I was sad to not partake in the ritual, but consumerism and my sister-in-law’s large family hijacked my Christmas Eve; I felt no desire to be part of it. Cubans don’t really celebrate Christmas Day (well, in Cuba they definitely don’t).  Read more »

A Pakistani-American Adoption Journey

Marisa Eide’s first date with Imran Ashraf was at an Ethiopian restaurant. Imran thought the date went really well so he asked Marisa out again and she happily agreed. They’ve been inseparable ever since. After dating for two years Marisa, who was born in California and Imran, born in Karachi were married on a crisp summer morning in Berkeley in 2005.  Read more »

Racism in the Extended Family on the Holidays

The Sunday after Thanksgiving: The day we pack up, gratefully drive back to our own home in our own town with our own way of doing things, and are stuck in the car together for hours and have no choice but to talk to each other. It is a time to reflect on the (peculiar) people we met and the (wacky) things that happened, and it is a chance to talk to the kids about what is really important to us as a family.  Read more »

When the Latina Nannies Found Out I Spoke Spanish

I had tried to hold out on the older Latina nannies in the park knowing I spoke Spanish. As long as we spoke in English our relationship was kept shallow, limited by their vocabulary. They would ask about my day and coo over my infant but that was about it. I knew that once they knew about me, I would never again be alone for better or for worse. While I occasionally listened into their conversations in order to entertain myself while the baby dug in the sandbox, I also appreciated the lack of forced socialization.  Read more »

Hotel Pool or History Lesson? Navigating Israel with Three Kids in Tow

Recently, my family and I took a trip to Israel. While I had several goals for the trip, including having a fantastic time, it was critically important to me that my kids saw the diversity of Jewish life in Tel Aviv. The city is the Baskin-Robbins of Jewish identity with a dazzling array of flavors to behold. Eastern European, African, Middle Eastern, Latin American, Asian, and indigenous Israelis, both religious and secular, seamlessly interact with one another.  Read more »

Letters from Orphans

November is National Adoption Month and this past Sunday was Orphan Sunday. We dedicated our children at our church in Durham, North Carolina with about 10 other children who had been adopted in the past year within our congregation. Typically in our inter-denominational Christian church, babies are “dedicated” as a way for parents to commit to raising their children with an understanding that they are children of God and to declare a promise to teach them about Jesus.  Read more »

What Baha’i Parents Teach Their Children About Death

As a child, I attended a number of funerals in which this verse from Corinthians was read, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory,” usually at the end of the service, when the bereaved family most needed it. At the time, I found this Bible verse very reassuring, but like most children I wanted to know more—the why, not to mention the how, what, when and where of the victory so eloquently asserted.  Read more »

Distant Relatives versus Nearby Friends on Thanksgiving

My parents say that there is a Chinese saying (there is always a Chinese saying) about how distant relatives are not as good as nearby friends. To illustrate, they recall the time our car broke down on the winding and treacherous Pacheco Pass after midnight and how our neighbor, Mr. Shigematsu, came to rescue us and did not get home until after 2 a.  Read more »

Warning: Babies Blinded by Eating Sand (and so I let them)

While reading Lenore Skenazy’s book Free-Range Kids, I couldn’t help but think that while dubbing her “America’s Worst Mom” was an overstatement, I wouldn’t put a nine-year-old on the subway alone either. That’s what she did. She handed her son a subway card, a map, a few bucks change and bon voyage. I am too over-protective for that, maybe because having gone to college in New York City, I know how gross and scary the subway can be.  Read more »

International Adoption is Never That Simple

A few months ago, InCultureParent asked a group of adoptive parents to provide a list of .  Read more »

Ode to Halloween Costumes, Plus a Warning about Bad Ones

As I child, observing the world as it was presented to me by the mainstream, I often decided to shut doors myself before anyone actually told me to. Growing up in the age of Farrah Fawcett, I knew that one had to be blond in order to be beautiful, by definition. My horseback riding friends and I knew from statistics that at 10 years old we were already too tall to ever become jockeys.  Read more »

Is it Possible to be Too Multicultural?

People who see us together call us the United Nations family. We are stopped constantly by people who ask, “Are these all yours?” I confidently tell perfect strangers that my family represents four different countries. Our diversity is something that I am very proud of. However, it is difficult to continue to teach your children about their history and their culture while at the same time introduce them to their new culture and family.  Read more »

What Makes Breastfeeding so Darn Controversial?

I’ve done a lot in my day to support the breastfeeding cause: calling moms at work to schedule feedings, carefully titrating breastmilk into bottles from plastic bags without spilling a drop, feeding with a spoon when a bottle was refused. I’ve even ignored what was probably a sign of postpartum depression: a woman clad almost exclusively in an open, pink terry cloth bathrobe, in the interest of encouraging breastfeeding.  Read more »

The Dangers of Consumerism and the Muslim Child

I suspect those who celebrate Christmas will be familiar with the way I felt a day or so after last Eid. Having received numerous toys, the kids took a cursory look at each and then left them to one side, forgotten. A few days after, I got a lecture from both my mother and my mother-in-law who had tag-teamed to advise me that I was spoiling my children, in particular my daughter, by buying them too many toys and gifts.  Read more »

Buddhism and Parenting Attachment

At the core of Buddhist practice is the notion that we can release ourselves from the three mental poisons--anger, attachment and ignorance. Each of these has a multitude of practices within the myriad forms of Buddhism, aimed at reducing their harmful effects. With the problem of attachment, we have to learn to let go. Never has the concept of attachment and the idea of letting go come more sharply into focus than when thinking about our children.  Read more »

Why Americans Value Independent and Competitive Kids

What does Ann Coulter share in common with the average American anarchist? If you guessed parenting goals, you would be right. Hard to believe? Well, I’ve been rereading my favorite parenting book, Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent by Meredith Small, which looks at how parenting has evolved around the world. Every time I dive back into its pages something new catches my eye.  Read more »

Reunited Outside the Orphanage Walls

Tanya’s car pulls into my parents’ gravel driveway. She is honking the horn, and waving her hand out the window. Meazi, Melese and I have been outside waiting for them to arrive from their five-hour drive from St. Paul, Minnesota. Peeking in her car, we see her boys Mintesinot and Tesfaamlak sitting in their cars seats, identical to ours, one with a cow pattern and the other with a butterfly pattern.  Read more »

The Unexpected Joys of Parenting Teens

“This would be a good day to rob Ann Arbor,” jokes Shi-yi as she waves to another friend she hasn’t seen all summer, “Half the town is here.” After a summer of family time, it is quite a plunge back into the cold refreshing waters of school life up here at Interlochen where the Huron, Pioneer, and Skyline bands, orchestras, and choirs are about to perform after a week of band/orchestra/choir camp.  Read more »

Learning Languages for Adopted Children

Next week we are heading to the Ukraine to adopt our seventh child. I have tried to block out time from my day to study Russian, but just haven’t been able to make any progress with it. It isn’t that I don’t want to--I really enjoy learning new languages, but have been very busy. Before we adopted our baby, Matea, from Guatemala, I spent hours studying Spanish.  Read more »

9 Things You Should Never Say to Adoptive Parents

With many multicultural families formed by adoption or expanded by adoption (and obviously not solely multicultural families), we thought it’s important to address some etiquette surrounding adoption. Most people probably have friends who have adopted, but there are still many misconceptions about adoption. Sometimes people don’t know what’s ok to ask and what’s not ok.  Read more »

Children’s Experience of Ramadan

Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, is the time for healthy adult Muslims’ to spend the day abstaining from food and water and the nights in hours of worship and contemplation. Although Muslim children do not usually fast, this does not mean that Ramadan, the holiest of months in the Islamic calendar, is not important for them. In Ramadan, a family and community’s routines are completely changed.  Read more »

Teaching My Kids About Israel

One of the most contentious issues any non-Israeli Jew must face is how to think and speak about Israel. For almost 2000 years, Jews lived in forced exile, dreaming about but unable to reclaim the Promised Land. Israel became a focal point of Jewish theology and the idea of return from exile was interwoven into our liturgy. The formation of a Jewish state in 1948, therefore, was a watershed moment for the Jewish people.  Read more »

Rhythms of the Season

After a long trip away from home, one of the first things I always do upon our return is take all the kids to buy groceries at our favorite Chinese grocery store. I love watching them zip around, squealing as they load up our basket, “Ooooh! It’s been so long since we’ve had cong you bing!” “Xiao long bao! I want xiao long bao!” and “I haven’t seen this kind of zhu rou gan in soooooo long!” At Tsai Grocery, the kids and I all know what and where everything is.  Read more »

8 Rules of Adoption Etiquette

With many multicultural families formed by adoption or expanded by adoption (and obviously not solely multicultural families), we felt it was important to address some etiquette surrounding adoption. Most people have friends who have adopted, but there are still many misconceptions about adoption. Sometimes people don’t know what’s alright to ask and what’s not.  Read more »

International Baby Naming Laws–Are They a Good Thing?

In my last column I looked into a friend’s wacky baby-naming. As it turns out, the degree of freedom we enjoy here in the States with regards to baby names is not shared internationally. Naming laws abound worldwide: France, Poland and New Zealand are just a few countries that have laws on the books. In Germany, the first name must indicate the baby’s sex--I’m not sure what they’d do with a name like mine, and who decides on which side a name like “Jamie” falls.  Read more »

Should We Raise Our Child Vegetarian?

One of the first things you do when your child is born is feed them—put them to your breast—nature’s own perfect formula. Good nutrition is the most basic element, along with love, that your child needs in order to flourish.   When my daughter Amrita was an infant, I had to be very careful with what I ate or her stomach would get upset.  Read more »

What Happens When We Die Mummy?

We'll begin with Clover who is four, nearly five. We can guarantee that whatever the situation, she will ask the questions that are the most direct and awkward for adults, but logical and pertinent for her (and probably us too, when we admit it).     But first l must introduce you to our family. I am Emma. I have been married to my husband Jackfor ten years, and we have two daughters—Amber, eight, and Clover, four.  Read more »

Free Range, Kosher and Jewish—Can it be Done?

I recently reminded myself of a dilemma I have regarding raising my children Jewish. I was standing over the barbeque, smelling the alluring scent of chicken and steak wafting through the air, and wondering why I couldn’t have a bite. After all, I grew up eating plenty of meat, the meat I was cooking was good enough for my wife and kids, and I was plenty hungry.  Read more »

Celebrating Japanese Culture with the Obon Dance

We went to the Obon Dance at the Puna Hongwanji tonight. I love first walking up to the temple grounds, totally transformed by the strings of lanterns glowing in the night, the tall yagura platform calling everyone's attention to the circle.   It is always great watching the elegant old ladies from the Japanese dance schools in their matching kimonos and perfectly coifed hair lead the way, their hands so graceful, their faces so calm.  Read more »

Multicultural Siblings: Identity and the Land of In-Between

When you join two cultures through marriage, like my husband and I, you know your children will live in the land between, never truly belonging to one or the other. From observing my Dutch parents growing up and my Greek husband as an adult, though their cultures and paths were quite dissimilar, they experienced this suspension between their birth culture and the one of their everyday lives, as a bi-product of immigration.  Read more »

You Named Your Kid What?

A friend just named her child with a celebrity-style moniker. Think an obscure shade of blue and a Greek god for a middle name, just to make sure he cant fall back on that one: Azure Poseidon. These days, the desire to name your child in a way that stands out is not for the rich and famous alone. Watch out Apple, Moses and Audioscience—the mainstream is following right behind you!   I have an unusual name myself, so I have an opinion on the subject.  Read more »

Islam and Child Discipline: Is Hitting Ever Ok?

In the past, when I have written about Islam’s perspective on child discipline, I described it as one where gentleness is preferred according to the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the examples set during his own life.   I feel that taking the time to explain, exercising patience and making an effort to try to see things from your child’s point of view are the strategies that are most conducive to producing good behaviour and a calm child.  Read more »

Making Passover Creative for Kids

Greetings InCultureParent readers. My name is Josh Ratner, and I will be taking a monthly stab at describing what it is like to raise my three, beautiful children, Dimitri (age 7), Eli (age 4), and Gabriella (age 9 months), along with my wife Elena (who is a physician), as Jews. I hope I will be able to offer some interesting insights. I come at this topic both as a current rabbinical student and as someone living in suburbia with all the secular challenges and enticements that entails.  Read more »

Separating Faith From Culture in Islam

I had an interesting conversation with my sister-in-law recently about an old friend of hers who had moved to the States and become a Christian, despite being raised in a practicing Muslim household. It made me think about what aspect of her former faith led her to believe that Islam was not for her.   I have come across a small number of former Muslims who have converted to a different religion or become atheist.  Read more »

Disconnect to Connect: Foregoing Facebook and iPads to Model Connection for Our Children

So, I caved! I gave my 12-year-old Ethiopian daughter a cell phone this year. As she was heading into middle school, I realized that she needed it to stay connected to us “in case of emergencies.” Well, as you can imagine, the phone has become an invisible lifeline between my sweet Grace and her friends. Lately, when she walks in the back door after school, she forgets to say hello to me or doesn’t hear me because she is texting.  Read more »

Nanny Wanted: Must Be Both Idiot and Expert

On a parenting message board, I compete with people named Luz Hernandez, Diana Carrillo and Alma de la Cruz. In Los Angeles, Latin nannies are ubiquitous. As I recall in New York, it is West Indian women raising the upper class. All over the world, women trade parenting. In Hong Kong, babies are raised by Indonesians, in Australia they’re Filipinos.  Read more »

Honoring Your Child’s Heritage When He’s Too Young to Care

When my husband and I decided to adopt internationally, we entered the process fully aware that adopting a child of a different race, ethnicity and culture would mean being intentional about how we’d honor his race, ethnicity and culture in our family. As we embarked upon one of the first adoption rites of passage—the home study—our social worker asked us about our parenting philosophies: How would we discipline our child? What was our plan for childcare? And, how would we teach our child about his heritage? Like most non-parents, we answered these questions with naiveté.  Read more »

Crime Without Punishment: Why the Death of Vincent Chin Resonates Today

Before I came to Michigan for graduate school, the only thing I knew about Michigan was that it was where Vincent Chin was killed. My parents’ Japanese-American neighbors warned me to sell my father’s Toyota 4Runner and buy a Ford Bronco. I asked about safety as much as I did about academics before I decided to come.   This year marks the 29th anniversary of the baseball bat beating that caused the death of Vincent Chin.  Read more »

Unexpected Gifts on the Declaration of the Bab

Our mothers and grandmothers often do not know how their actions touch us. I was reminded of this truth when I read what my daughter, Shira, wrote about her memories of her grandmother's visit to our home two years ago on the Declaration of the Bab. This is a Baha’i holy day that commemorates the Bab’s revelation to his first disciple that he was the one who would prepare the way for the coming of the Promised One, Baha’u’llah.  Read more »

Perfect Bilingualism: Does it Exist?

If you have ever lived in a foreign country where you speak the language as well as its inhabitants, you’ll know how frustrating it is for someone to complement you on your charming accent. You might consider yourself completely bilingual, but there’s that little accent that people keep remarking on. Or you might be bringing up bilingual or multilingual children and notice that they have a slight accent in what you consider to be their mother tongue.  Read more »

The Big Question—Sex Education and Islam

Sex education is a bit of a minefield for me as a Muslim mother, as I am sure it is for most parents, whether Muslim or not. How much to tell? At what age? Who should do the telling? I have been adamant that I will be honest with my children and expect them to have the courage to be honest. By never lying, I hope my children would be able to trust me and believe what I say to them and to understand that there is never anything to fear from when they are honest with me (oh the things they have gotten away with just by honestly owning up!) My determination to be an honest mum has been challenged now that my oldest daughter is at an age when she is curious about the “birds and the bee’s” and in particular where baby’s come from.  Read more »

Is Nanny a Fancy Word for Domestic Servant?

I’ve been looking for work lately. As a nanny this means a variety of things. Posting advertisements on parenting message boards, interviewing at Nanny agencies, filling out myriad online applications and getting recertified in any lapsed certifications (CPR, TB whatever). I consider it a practice session in Zen-like humility; a test of dignity under duress.  Read more »

Mother’s Day in Mandarin at the Chinese Speech Tournament

My daughter Hao Hao was once a timid child who cried at every little thing. She even got kicked out of sports camp because she dissolved into a flood of tears every time she got "out" in softball or tag. Once when she was at Leslie Science Center, she cried on a hike through the woods because she was afraid of the spider webs on the trail. Instead of giving in to her tears as the teachers and moms at Chinese School tended to do, the Leslie Science Center instructor simply handed her a butterfly net to empower her to wave away the spider webs as she marched down the trail, head and butterfly net held up high.  Read more »

Adoption and The Gift of Hope

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13: 13) My children tell me the story of when they were in the orphanage in Ethiopia and how they had lost hope that a family would adopt them. We adopted three children who were siblings. Most of the adoptions they had seen were of one child at a time.  Read more »

Death of a Parent and Ella’s Troubled Hair

The first time I laid eyes on Ella was via a picture from her Ethiopian orphanage. I immediately thought that she was perhaps the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen. She was six years old and had perfectly braided hair gathered into a bun on her head. The orphanage had very little resources but a local hair salon came on Saturdays to wash and braid the hair of dozens of little girls.  Read more »

Dreaming of Peace and Roses

Come April, I dream of roses. Not about planting them or about cultivating them. The roses I dream of grow only in my imagination and begin to bloom there about the third week of April, during the Baha’i festival of Ridvan, when I call to mind the intoxicating scent of the sweet flower of my childhood that once grew in my grandmother’s garden—the Peace rose.  Read more »

Supernatural Conception: HIV Adoption

We are about to embark on another adoption journey. This time we call it an accidental adoption but it really is more like supernatural conception and childbirth. We thought we were done. We have three children from Ethiopia, two born to us in America and another from Guatemala. We never ever thought we would be adopting again. Similar to going into the doctor and being surprised by a positive pregnancy test, I can imagine this feels the same.  Read more »

The Performance of Parenting or Why I Hate my Job

Nannying can be terribly boring. This is because the infants I care for (most of whom are under a year old) are busy entertaining themselves. They are working on physics equations in their head (don't believe me? Read The Scientist in the Crib) and testing objects' densities with their mouths. Their laboratory is a mat on the floor of their homes in general.  Read more »

Primary School Privilege

I get an urgent call from one of the other Kindergarten moms. She tells me that there is a child that she wants removed from the classroom. My mind races a little as I think about what a strict school it is, so strict in fact that my daughter Meazi recently received a time-out for whistling. (Apparently she was also a "whistling instigator," inspiring several other kids to express themselves in this exuberant manner).  Read more »

Big Questions and Inner Truths

Now that my daughter Amrita is two, the focus of my parenting has shifted from questions on navigating our way through the daily routines of life, to more philosophical ones. She has started to ask "what?" and "why?" There are many questions to which I have straightforward answers, but I find myself increasingly thinking about how I will answer the more esoteric ones.  Read more »

Sorting through the varied hues of Easter – cultural or religious holiday?

My father and I always sang in the church and school choirs, so every year we celebrated Easter by putting on our choir robes, singing joyously at Easter sunrise mass, and then going out for a Grand Slam Breakfast at Denny's. After weeks of preparation, we were happy and stuffed and done with Easter by 9 a.m.   Because I went to Catholic Schools, I always had Good Friday and the week after Easter off of school, while the public schools in California had a different week off, so I thought Easter was a straight-forward religious holiday.  Read more »

Rights of the Child in Islam

I have a small poster on my fridge, now old and slightly yellowed, which my children love. It's called the "Children's Rights and Responsibilities" and lists all of the basic things to which every child is entitled. They love seeing it and having it read to them—it makes them feel that as children they matter in their own right, and knowing that it is the duty of adults to provide these things is empowering to them.  Read more »

Celebrating the Buddha’s Birthday

Throughout much of Asia, spring is the time to observe the Buddha's birthday in Mahayana Buddhism. For Japan in particular, the ancient "8th day of the 4th month" has been updated to match the Western calendar, and thus every year on April 8th is the holiday of Hanamatsuri: the Festival of Flowers. The name derives from the story of the Buddha's birth, when the gods of India scattered flowers from the sky in joy.  Read more »

The Status of Mothers in Islam

After the birth of my first child, there was a thought that kept crossing my mind regarding the status of mothers in Islam. Growing up I had heard of hadith (Prophetic sayings) such as, "Your paradise lies under the feet of your mother," and not given much thought to them. Once I became a mother myself, I started to wonder what this meant. I was no one special, why would paradise lie under my feet?   Then I thought back to the sickness, discomfort and exhaustion I suffered during my pregnancy.  Read more »

Fasting and Feasting, Dancing to a Divine Rhythm

A brief nineteen days of austerity in a year filled with festive holy day celebrations, the Baha'i fast is assigned a spiritual significance that can be puzzling to those from religious traditions, cultures and societies in which fasting is not widely practiced.   Every hour of the nineteen days of this sunrise-to-sunset fast, the Baha'i scriptures tell us, is endowed with "a special virtue, inscrutable to all except [God].  Read more »

Why Gay Parents are Superior to Hetero Parents

I was raised by a fabulous set of lesbians in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early eighties. There were a lot less kids of gay parents then, even in San Francisco, and although it may have been an unusual childhood, it was a very happy one. Now that I am of an age to be having kids, I am reflective about the parenting practices that made my parents such successful caregivers.  Read more »

Charity and Children

Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. The Lord will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes. (Psalm 41:1-2)   As Christians we are taught to honor the "least of these." The reality is that only a small percentage of Christians are extending themselves for the orphan.  Read more »

The 120 Days of Children’s Souls

It was the summer of 1998 and I was lounging in the passenger seat of my friend's car. Spots of sunlight touched us as we made our way through the winding road of trees. I looked up at the bright green, waving leaves and was suddenly struck by the most vivid vision I had ever experienced. Smiling green eyes looked down at me from a round little face, framed by very straight strawberry blond hair.  Read more »

Happy O-Higan!

One of my favorite holidays in Japan and Buddhism occurs not once, but twice a year around the spring and fall equinox: O-higan. The holiday literally translates as "the other shore." In Buddhism, this is a frequent metaphor for parting this shore of ignorance, hatred and greed to the other shore of nirvana, peace and so on. The holiday arose in Japan because the spring and fall equinoxes are both pleasant times of the year, and people can devote more free time to things like Buddhism.  Read more »

Finding Aster

I began to think about Aster's birth mother long before the nanny handed her to me. It took many months for my daughter's biological mother not to enter into my daily thoughts. I felt such deep sadness for this child who, we were told, would never have the opportunity to know the woman who birthed her. She supposedly had no other blood relatives, so seeking out her birth family would never be an option for Aster.  Read more »

A Camel in the Closet: How One Baha’i Family Celebrates Ayyam-i-Ha

"What's a camel doing in the closet—in the winter, in Maine?" The camel, I told the children in my daughter's class, had come all the way from the Middle East, where our religion began. She was too big to fit into a chimney, so she came right in through the front door, and the coat closet right beside that door seemed the most obvious place for her to leave the presents.  Read more »

Maybe Amy Chua is Not so Bad

Having thought further about what intentional parenting entails, I sought counsel from my mother, Nina, about her parenting practices. She summed them up, patly, as "values based parenting." I was instantly appreciative of her co-opting of the term "values," as the right wing has cashed in on it for way too long.   "In parenting we transfer daily messages to our children about what is important," she told me.  Read more »

Constructing Identity

This week marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year. To celebrate, my husband and I took our daughter to a dinner organized as a fundraiser by a local Chinese teacher who is planning to take her students to Taiwan in the spring.   We had met this teacher last year, when she organized, again with her students, a different Chinese New Year party, one primarily aimed at families like ours who have adopted children from China and other Asian countries.  Read more »

Matea: Gift from God

I had a very odd dream on the eve of Thanksgiving in 2004. A woman who looked like Kate Hudson handed me a very trendy Moses basket with a perfectly blond, blue-eyed baby boy inside. She looked me in the eyes and said, “Here is your new baby, Liam.” I looked at her incredulous and responded, “This is not my baby! My baby is going to have dark hair and her name will be Matéa.  Read more »

So what’s the big deal about sleepovers, anyhow?

On my 16th birthday, a blond classmate was shocked to discover that I would not also, automatically, be allowed to date.   “But it’s a Constitutional right that you are allowed to date when you turn 16.”   The other three Asian American girls in my class and I all looked at each other. None of us were allowed to date until college.  Read more »

Being a Working Muslimah Mother

Guilt seems to be an integral part of modern motherhood. It sometimes seems that no matter what you do, you are not good enough as a mother. Stay at home mothers sometimes feel they miss out on things they want to do and are accused of living through their children, going into overkill mode with every birthday party and milestone, turning their children into spoilt, selfish little monsters.  Read more »

Closer to God: The First 40 Days After Birth

The first time you hold your precious little one, it is hard to imagine that one day this tiny being will be able to speak and share their thoughts with you. I would stare at Amrita for hours, wondering what she would come to care about and what she would be like. For about the first month of my daughter's life, she seemed to spend most of her time off in another realm.  Read more »

Family Evolution: The Meaning of Multicultural

I grew up in a multicultural house. My mother was born in the Netherlands. My father, although also of Dutch heritage, was born in Indonesia and spent much of his early years split between those islands and Australia. He brought with him foods, languages, a love of large birds and a unique accent. I was born in New Jersey but my parents raised me Dutch.  Read more »

Little Buddha at Home

My daughter has recently reached four years old, and has blossomed mentally and physically. What surprises me at this age is how her mind has matured and how she picks up on things that I might overlook. Recently, she started to imitate the Buddha seated in meditation as a joke. I don't know exactly where she picked this up, but in the bathtub she'll cross her little legs, put her hands in the proper mudra (gesture) and sit very straight, just like you see in statues of the Buddha.  Read more »

In the Bleak MidWinter: Teaching Our Children Spiritual Survival Skills

In the bleak midwinter, frost wind made moan, earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow…   Christmas has passed, but I can’t get these lines from Christina Rossetti’s poem out of my mind. The poem, which celebrates the spiritual renewal symbolized by the birth of Jesus in the middle of winter, was put to music by modern composer Gutav Holst early in the last century and is now a well-known Christmas carol that was featured on many of the radio programs I listened to during the holiday season.  Read more »

The Gift of Oranges From a Sister I Will Never Meet

I felt a connection to a woman who had lived across the continent in Ethiopia. We had never met and will never meet in person. She was the birth mother of my three Ethiopian kids. I know it is strange to admit this connection but I can honestly say that I felt a call from her heart to "mother" her children via adoption. Bayoush was around 32 years old and had passed away due to AIDS a few years prior in 2005.  Read more »

Finding Our Way Home

I am not close with members of my family of origin, nor do I live near any of its members. Since my husband is not Jewish, any efforts to raise our four-year-old daughter with a sense of her Jewish maternal heritage rest, naturally, with me. Given some recent difficulties with family members, I have had to take stock and ask myself how much time and effort I am interested in devoting to exposing my daughter to Judaism.  Read more »

Living in harmony in a great world house on Martin Luther King Day

In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Nobel Peace Prize lecture, given in 1964, he talks about the idea of a house, "We have inherited a big house, a great world house in which we have to live together--black and white, Easterners and Westerners, Gentiles and Jews, Catholics and Protestants, Moslem and Hindu, a family unduly separated in ideas, culture, and interests who, because we can never again live without each other, must learn, somehow, in this one big world, to live with each other.  Read more »

An Islamic Perspective on Child-Rearing and Discipline

Thanks to a small number of Muslims and large chunks of the mainstream media, Islam has gained a reputation for severity and harshness. When it comes to the way we raise our children this can often be true, but usually due to our cultural backgrounds more than our faith. My parents and grandparents grew up in Pakistan where it was the norm to be smacked by your parents, extended relations and anyone else that happened to be around and in a bad mood.  Read more »

Intentional vs. Default Parenting

Everyone in my family had saved up in anticipation of my arrival. Nonetheless, when I was under one year old, they needed part-time childcare for me while my mother Nina went back to work as a nurse. My mom had heard of another nurse who had recently taken leave and might be willing to watch me. Enter Simone. My mother is a lesbian and Simone, a born-again Christian.  Read more »

Celebrating Guru Nanak’s Birthday at Gurdwara

I don't believe in the Beatles. "I just believe in me." John Lennon had it right. Little did he know when he penned the lyrics to "God" in 1970 that he was echoing the very same sentiments that Guru Nanak, the founder and first Guru of the Sikh religion, professed nearly 500 years prior. "There is neither Hindu nor Muslim. So whose path shall I follow? God is neither Hindu nor Muslim, and the path which I follow is God's.  Read more »

Ringing in the New Year the Japanese-Buddhist Way

New Year's is a huge festivity in Japan, larger than any other holiday observed there. After my first experience in 2008, I couldn't help thinking that it was Christmas and Thanksgiving in the U.S. all rolled into one three-day festivity. Japanese New Year, or shogatsu, inherits much of Chinese tradition, but is fixed to the Western solar calendar, and has evolved into a holiday that is uniquely Japanese.  Read more »

To Korea, With Love: Grieving the Loss of the Foster Family

In the two years that my husband David and I had been trying to adopt, I had thought a lot—a whole lot—about the day we'd first meet our child. I had envied friends' photos of meeting their children, wondering what it would be like when (and at times if) we adopted our child. I had romantic notions that we would be crying with joy, holding our child, who would likely be confused and upset, but somewhat placated by the food and treats we would have brought him or her.  Read more »

Muslim Children and Christmas

Christmas is a favourite time of year for most people, parties, gifts, special foods and family traditions--what is not to like? But for most Muslims, this time of year always brings with it a host of issues to consider: should we participate? Should we join in the office parties and games of Secret Santa? Or should we avoid the celebration totally, writing it off as not part of our faith? For those with children, the decisions we have to make require even more consideration.  Read more »

The Season of Stars

It is the season of stars--the star that led the magi to the Christ child; the Star of David, central symbol of the Jewish people, which shines so brightly on the world during the celebration of Hanukkah; and the nine-pointed Baha'i star that rises a little later in the winter season, in February, during Ayyam-i-Ha, the five days of hospitality and gift-giving that precede the Baha'i fast.  Read more »

Parenting Against Society

Okay, having spent 800 words convincing you that I don't wander into people's homes to judge their parenting, now I can start playing Solomon—cut that baby in half! Let the judgment begin. For the record, often I don't feel like I have a philosophy until someone else's parenting is counter to it. Sometimes it surprises even me the things that I disapprove of but I have racked up a list of questionable behavior over the years.  Read more »

Is Christmas any less Christian if you put up a Bodhi Day tree?

One of my daughter's Jewish friends from preschool once said that she liked coming to our house this time of year because we were the only other people who did not have a Christmas tree, either. Her mother described the conflict her child felt at school having to do Christmas-themed art projects such as decorating trees, which, regardless of what you call them, are still Christmas trees.  Read more »

Languages of My Children

We belong to an international Christian church that is very diverse. We are blessed to have people from all different nations available to help us with cultural differences in raising our children. Our Ethiopian friends worship with us as do Hispanic, Asian and people from 50 different countries. I believe the expression “it takes a village” really applies to us.  Read more »

On Choosing, Not Receiving, Religious and Cultural Affiliations

While watching Bill Maher's show on TV one night I had occasion to think about the Judaic culture I have inherited. Famous and infamous for his anti-religion stance (he thinks all religions are ridiculous, not just some), Maher was particularly confounded on the night I was watching about people who choose to change their religion as adults. What he said (and I paraphrase) is: I sort of get what it means to be born into a religion, but the idea of a fully rational adult choosing to believe in a lot of hocus pocus boggles the mind.  Read more »

Manifesting Your Own Reality

When I think of my daughter some day spreading her wings and heading off into the world on her own, I feel a mix of pangs of personal loss combined with an incredible excitement for the experiences that lay before her. Where will she go? Whom will she meet? What will she experience? Who will she become? I hope that my husband and I will have been able to instill her with a sense of confidence, trust and joy for herself and life, and to give her the tools my parents imparted on me, tools for navigating through life’s pleasures and challenges--trusting and learning along the way, and how to project for, and manifest one’s goals in life.  Read more »

A Buddhist Holiday Season

For most Americans or residents in the West, December is synonymous with certain holidays like Christmas or Hanukkah. I can fondly remember Christmas morning at my grandmother's house, opening presents, seeing beloved relatives and having a large feast before trundling home sleepy and well fed. Everything seemed more festive, brighter and larger as a child.  Read more »

Family History

In the ten years between my wedding day and the day I met my children, I spent a lot of time fantasizing about all of the traditions we would celebrate once I finally became a mother. The celebrations I imagined looked a lot like those from my own childhood. There would be Christmas stockings stuffed full of Clementine oranges, chocolate coins, and Bonnie Bell lip smackers; dyed Easter eggs hidden in an obvious way around the living room; piñatas and paper donkey tails poised in the backyard for a birthday party.  Read more »

Eid-ul-Adha Family Traditions

With the approach of Eid-ul-Adha this year, it felt like a good time to reflect on some of the family traditions that we had begun as a family and some of the ones that my husband and I had brought with us from our own childhoods. Eid-ul-Adha is one of two Eids that Muslims celebrate around the world. The first is Eid-ul-Fitr which celebrates the fact that we have fasted for a month during the Muslim month of Ramadan.  Read more »

Raising Good Muslims

I am facing one of the biggest challenges I have ever met: how to raise good Muslims. I have always found progress very easy in my academic and working life and have enjoyed the feeling of sailing through these spheres most of the time. This leads a person to the feeling, especially when you are young, that you are oh-so-clever. Having children puts that whole mindset into perspective.  Read more »

Introduction to Adventures in Multicultural Living: The Project Explained

It all started when my husband first asked me to marry him. I said, "Under one condition, that we never live in the Midwest." I knew from experience how hard it can be to grow up as a minority, and I knew I wanted my children to grow up on the West coast or in Asia so that they would not have to grow up as minorities, and so that they would not always be "the only one.  Read more »

Self Realization

I can remember as a small child thinking that every family was just like my own; I had no base of experience to think otherwise. As I grew I discovered what a rich and diverse world we live in. Every parent must look at their life and choose the experiences that they want to repeat with their children. What kind of home world does one want to create? What traditions and beliefs do they want to share and instill? For some, it will be something very close to their own upbringing, and for others it will be entirely different.  Read more »

East Meets West Parenting

Buddhism began for me as it did for many converts in the West: I saw an inspiring TV show about Asian philosophy at the age of 16, read some books and began meditating. But by college I felt myself wavering and leaving Buddhism for something more stimulating only to get bored again and move on once more. It wasn't until I met my wife, a Japanese girl studying English in college that things gradually changed.  Read more »

A Religion of Spring

The Baha'i Faith was born in the spring, in 1863, in a garden in Baghdad. During Ridvan, the festival that commemorates that beginning, Baha'is around the world celebrate the declaration of Baha'u'llah, whose claim to be the Promised One foretold by all the religions of the past was astonishing to some, incredible to others and to a few, the answer to long search and much prayer.  Read more »

On Beauty and Adoption

A simple fact of adoption is the likelihood your child will not physically resemble you and your extended family. No well-meaning aunts at the holidays will observe how your son got Grandpa's nose (poor thing) or how it was lucky the children got their father's straight teeth, because it could've just as easily gone the other way. And in your own quiet moments, you may look at your little one, and although your gaze is full of love and wonder, you may have no existing frame of reference for his beauty because it is unfamiliar to you.  Read more »

A Real American Family

I have one of those families that turn heads. I usually don’t notice. I am too busy shooshing everyone because we are also very loud. But every now and then I notice people have no clue what to make of us and look at us quite perplexed. I am the mother of 6 kids. We are a family of 8. My husband was raised in NYC and is Jewish by culture.  Read more »

A Complicated Journey: Raising a Jewish-Chinese Daughter

Both my husband and myself are used to living our lives as members of minorities; being aliens in a land not of our birth nor of our culture phases neither of us. In fact it feels quite natural. Perhaps it allows us to be fitting parents to our daughter, who, like each of us, was born into a culture quite different than the one in which she resides.  Read more »

Parenting: A Horse of Many Colors

As a nanny, I get to watch parenting. Being in people's homes and caring for their children is necessarily intimate. Up close everyone's eccentricities are magnified, so I get a good view. Each job and new family brings a different set of expectations and assumptions about what ideal parenting should be. I also came into the field with my own set of ideas based on how I was raised.  Read more »
Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!

What Cultural Norms Around Bare Feet Taught This Mother in Guatemala

Her baby's bare feet ended up being a lesson on poverty and privilege.

Why We Need to Read Multicultural Children's Books

Children need to see the world around them reflected in books.

How My Two Year Old is Teaching Me Thai

I am just another "farang" or stranger until my son starts speaking fluent Thai

10 Things You Should Know Before Adopting a Child

What you may want to consider before sending in that adoption application.

10 Best Children's Books for Gifts

Our Editors favorite multicultural books for this holiday season.

Will Three Languages Confuse a Young Child?

My wife thinks three languages will confuse our child. Is she right?

11 African-American Children’s Books for Christmas and Kwanzaa

Try a few of these from this fantastic selection of African-American holiday books

What I Can Do as a White Mom After Darren Wilson’s Acquittal

How do I explain to my kids the racism that does not come in the form of explicit laws and overt, blatant prejudice?

10 Multicultural Children’s Books that Make Adults Cry

We dare you to read these without a tear

Why This Mom Banned the Word ‘Weird’ From Her Kids' Vocabulary

One approach to explaining diversity to kids.

French versus Italian Parenting in One Multicultural Family

How one mom in an intercultural marriage sees the differences between Italian and French parenting

The Cultural Battleground of Sleepovers

Should they be allowed because it's "normal?" Think again.

Are Parents Too Overprotective in the West and Too Lax in the East?

Would you pick up a stranger's child or is that invasive?

Does Religion Matter? Juggling Two Faiths in One Family

What's the best way to transmit the values we care about to our kids?

Amazing Portraits of Biracial Kids

Smarter, larger, better, healthier and more beautiful? A project that debunks stereotypes.

Dear White Officer, Please Don't Shoot

At what age does my darling black son begin to look like a threat to the world?

A Book that Celebrates Cross-Cultural Friendship

A great pick for back to school season

My Daughter’s 10 Favorite Multicultural Books

Does your shelf have these kid favorites?

I was Diagnosed with Cancer at Age 37 while Abroad with Kids

Illness in a foreign country can be scary but it taught this mom a different meaning of family.

Huge Giveaway for Eid: Tea Collection, Little Passports, Little Pim, Dolls, Books, Music & More

Win almost $300 in prizes from awesome globally-inspired children's products.

5 Smoothies Your Kids Will Love

Healthy smoothies for summer your kids will like.

3 Beautiful Children’s Books That Take Place in the Himalayas

Beautiful children's stories from Nepal to Tibet

Why African Toddlers Don't Have Tantrums

The secret of why African babies don't meltdown like Western ones.

How I Made My Forgotten Native Language My Child’s Strongest

I started off by speaking dodgy Cantonese. No word for remote control? No problem! ‘Pressy thingy.’

Help Us Giveaway a Soccer Ball to Kids in Ethiopia!

Let's donate a ball to kids who need it in Ethiopia. Here's how you can help!

Tanabata Festival: July 7

A beautiful Japanese summer festival

Homemade Art Books for Ramadan

A simple homemade gift for kids

A Children's Book for Global Citizens: Everyone Prays

A celebration of faith around the world through simple text and rich illustrations.

Do I Hold My Son Back to Get into the Immersion Program?

What would you do? Your child won a place in the lottery, only problem is it's the wrong year!

After Her Husband’s Tragic Death, She Embraced a Religion and Culture Not Her Own

This Japanese mom embraced Judaism to give her son a piece of his father
[…] the breastfeeding culture in Mongolia compared to America. Did you have any idea that something as simple as breastfeeding attitudes can […...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
My mother born in the 1930's is originally from the northern part of Germany. I am in my mid fifties and have a terrible relationship with my mother. She is domineering and hurts those where it hurt...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
[…] JC Niala, InCultureParent […...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
[…] […...
From Breastfeeding Around the World
Although humanity is one Man (in a generic sense, including woman)has identified himself endless groups, religious, nationalistic, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, etc. Once you separate ME from YOU on...
From What’s an Asian? Race and Identity for a New Generation
[…] […...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
Some great tips here but not many working mothers could feed baby every hour especially if you work in a major multi-nationa...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
So true!!! Thanks for being so honest and self reflective. It's a proof of true characte...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
As a first-time mom I've spent the last two months of my four-month-old's life stressed out about her sleep and I recognize how crazy this is. It's clearly not working for me! I'm wondering how non-...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
[…]        […...
From Why African Toddlers Don’t Have Tantrums
[…] Any content provided on this blog is opinion based with selected information from various sources where indicated. Image:
From Imbolc Craft: St. Brigid’s Cross
Or you could have had a beautiful white baby with a man from your own culture. Not enough drama in tha...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
Crystal, thanks for sharing your experiences. It makes for a fascinating read! The link to the Siddha school you provided seems to be no longer working. Is the school still ther...
From How I Moved to Thailand with my Family on Less than $1000
[…] but which colour to choose? Biome has 25% off storewide till midnight tonight with the code BIOME25 why African babies don’t cry – an absolutely brilliant […...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
[…] […...
From 6 Children’s Books to Celebrate Juneteenth
I love this website and its insight on raising global citizens. I agree with what you say about no one English accent being correct - the thing that I was surprised by in this article was the fact ...
From Should I Worry about My Child’s Accent in Her Foreign Language?
Why are Germans thinking about being rude? Do You All want to be Just A Coarse-Face? If all of you deviate from Universalism, there is much more to fear from the world than you expec...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
[…] 3 Children’s Books from the Himalayas at InCultureParent […...
From 3 Beautiful Children’s Books That Take Place in the Himalayas
[…] How I Talk to My Kindergarten Classroom About Race […...
From How I Talk to My Kindergarten Classroom About Race
[…] don’t Need a Room. The baby room is certainly a modern invention. For much of history, and in other parts of the world today, babies […...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
Addressing the "grown up time" someone mentioned sure that many people address this differently with what works for their family. However, suffice it to say that when the baby's in your...
From The African Guide to Co-sleeping
[…] were taught to whistle – but other people use other sounds. Most people seem to shush or to hiss. It doesn’t really matter. You could probably sing “La Cucaracha” and it would stil...
From Thanks to Chinese Potty-Training We’re Done With Diapers at 19 Months
Thanks for the article! I tried to put my newborn twins into a bassinet at birth, but there was just no way! No way to breastfeed and no way to survive the nights with two of them waking me up all...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
Olga, witam!:) what a fresh approach this has given me on such a day like today! I'm Half polish being polish from my mothers side and as this is the language that I ident myself with, I decided to ...
From 10 Things Not to Say to Parents of Multilingual Children
[…] the talk at school. You can see an example of bilingual twins’ language use in this article from InCultureParent and this Q&A on Twins List. Also, as you say, convincing them to spea...
From Si­, Yes: Raising Bilingual Twins
Thank you SOO much for sharing!!!! I have breastfed my twins for 3 years now and still going. It has been a struggle, especially with family members like my mother in law who wished I weaned at 2 m...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
[…] The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep […...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
I aghree with the above comments. Society is reaching a new stages when we all enjoy hearing stories of the beliefs of other...
From Growing Up Baha’i in Rural Maine: A Not-so-Secret Double Life
Hi Kim! I am so glad that this article was useful for you and made you feel validated as a parent. It's not often in this judgmental world of parenting we get that, right?! That's the main reason...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
I love reading your work. I can olny imagine what it would be like to have such beautiful customs and true community. I understand why it is so very very important to keep these traditions alive. Be...
From No Kids Allowed: How Kenyan Weddings are Changing
Your mother in-law seems somewhat reasonable. Many Chinese Mother In-laws are not. In their scenario, they would be number 1 to the child and you would be number two. Many want to have a bond closer...
From How My Chinese Mother-in-Law Replaced my Husband
I think Konstantina is actually responding to what is probably more familiar/praised/or preferred socially as well. I was an English teacher in Poland with a distinct accent. I struggled to get Engl...
From Should I Worry about My Child’s Accent in Her Foreign Language?
Noor Kids' title "First Time Fasting" is another great rea...
From 6 Favorite Children’s Books about Ramadan
This article was shared in a community I run to connect globetrotting parents and everyone LOVED it. You should join us! We all relate to your experience. Many of us, including me, are in the same b...
From Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get
Please help: I Love my wife and my son. I am also EXTREMELY involved as a dad. I had to move to china ( in a tiny tiny town) where I am the only foreigner so that my wife can take over the family bu...
From How My Chinese Mother-in-Law Replaced my Husband
Thanks for writing this!! My baby is 7 months, and I love having her sleep in my room. I don't mention it too often to people who have had kids because they seem a little judgy on it. So tonight I...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
Honestly, it looks like the author married into a very backward and old fashioned family. Not stimulating children's curiosity, differences between boys and girls, and women slaving in the house, wh...
From French versus Italian Parenting in One Multicultural Family
[…] B. Breasts are for Babies? Perceptions of Breastfeeding in Italy. In Culture Parent June […...
From Breasts are for Babies? Perceptions of Breastfeeding in Italy
[…] that “beatings” are not actually spankings. There may be some truth to this because African tribal culture does not support “spanking”. This is confirmed by my own observation in S...
From African Parenting: The Sane Way to Raise Children
[…] Pomlazka, a special handmade whipping stick, is an Easter tradition in the Czech Republic. Made out of pussywillow tigs, pomlazka is braided and then used by the village boys/men to “...
From What’s Easter without a Whipping?