Global Parenting

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

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

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Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father’s Tribe
I am Luo. My mother decided I would be. Kenya is a country of over 40 distinct ethnic groups. This is a blessing and a curse. At it's best, it makes for a fascinating country with a rich and diverse history. Different tribes have brought different strengths to the country. It has led to a multicultural, multilingual society with a greater understanding of the way in which different people live. However, at its worst it has led to horrific clashes, scores of people killed or internally displaced. There have been numerous injustices: from casual discrimination to systematic persecution.  Read more »

No Kids Allowed: How Kenyan Weddings are Changing

The first time I went to an English wedding as we stood on the steps outside the church I thought to myself,“Where are The Aunties?” In Kenyan weddings this is where the celebration begins. As much as I so love English weddings, the focus on the couple who are getting married, the dancing at receptions, the way the bride gets to wear her dress all day and doesn’t have to change into something equally eye catching for the evening party… it still felt like there was something missing.  Read more »

What Cultural Norms Around Bare Feet Taught This Mother in Guatemala

Before my daughter was walking, I rarely put shoes or socks on her tiny feet. We live in Guatemala, where the temperature never drops below 60 nor rises above 80. I used to throw her in the stroller or plop her in the swings, barefoot. When we did errands around town, her bare feet would hang out on either side of the ergo. As a new mom, trying to get a small person and myself ready most mornings, baby shoes and socks were a nuisance more than anything else.  Read more »

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.  Read more »

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

As a white mom of two biracial daughters and a kindergarten teacher devoted to teaching my students how to recognize and combat racism, I am devastated by Darren Wilson’s acquittal.  I struggle to find the words to describe this event to my older daughter, whose immediate response over dinner last night was, “I’m not sure I want to say this in front of you, but…white police officers are bad.  Read more »

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

It all started with the guy at the garden store. His face was splotched with purple burns—not badly, but enough for my kids to notice and be scared, making loud comments in the store. I hushed them, smiling apologetically. Once we were in the car, my oldest daughter told me, “His face was weird.”   I sat there for a moment, wondering how to explain diversity to my three blond, blue-eyed daughters.  Read more »

French versus Italian Parenting in One Multicultural Family

My husband comes from the south of Italy and I am French. We often have differences in the way we raise our children. Although our culture clashes are unique to our own situation, I am sure other couples in multicultural relationships have faced similar issues when parenting.   Take a look at how some of our parenting philosophies stack up.  Read more »

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

One of the things that I really love about having babies in China is how attentive complete strangers are to my children. The fruit seller at our apartment complex entrance is always asking about my kids, for example, even if I am there without them—she even knows their names! It warms my heart.   I’ve likewise been amazed by how warm and interested wait staff are in Chinese restaurants.  Read more »

Does Religion Matter? Juggling Two Faiths in One Family

We are religious in the sense that my husband, Marvin, and I believe in a higher entity--God/Allah--that connects all of us. But we struggle as parents to maintain a spiritually connected family and follow rituals that do not contradict the values we care about. Underpinning religion is a set of values that organizes your life. Values can be derived from a formal religion but not necessarily.  Read more »

Amazing Portraits of Biracial Kids

Beautiful portraits of half-Chinese kids (c) Karen Patterson   As a foreign mother with a half Chinese baby in China, it became very apparent that many of the Chinese around me – known and strangers alike – had some very interesting stereotypes that they seemed to assign to ‘hunxuer’, or half-Chinese babies and kids. After my own daughter came along, and I discovered this, simply by walking down the street and being confronted by young and old Chinese, mostly women and usually women who had had a child themselves, commenting on the skin color, the eyes, the hair, and how I wasn’t looking after her properly.  Read more »

Dear White Officer, Please Don’t Shoot

At what point does my darling black son begin to look like a pariah to the world? At what time do people start seeing him as a threat? A gangster? A thug? The first time I experienced this look, what I call "the look of disgust" was at a Farmer's market. My son wanted to buy a honey stick and was refused service. He was four years old. The murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown has sent ripples of fear for all of us who are raising black sons.  Read more »

Why African Toddlers Don’t Have Tantrums

We live in times that are increasingly out of synch with natural rhythms. More often than not we impose our own schedules onto a world that has been governed by natural laws since it began and then wonder at the devastating consequences. Children, especially young children, who are hardwired to follow their instincts illustrate this clash very well.  Read more »

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

Yuki is a Japanese-born single mom. She has managed to raise her nine-year-old son Abi alone, after overcoming the sudden tragic death of her Jewish-American husband in San Francisco when Abi was just a baby. She is also a writer, surfer, foodie and someone who has created a space for her little family to thrive in.   Abi and Yuki live in San Francisco nine months of the year, visit her family in Japan for about two months and spend about a month on the East coast visiting her American in-laws.  Read more »

Why You Shouldn’t Judge: My Son is Not a Monster. He’s Autistic.

Since the day that our neighborhood pool opened Keagan has been there all day everyday. He goes up before they open to help the lifeguards set up, he swims and plays pool with other kids his age and chats it up with the staff. He only seems to come home for food. I've never seen him so happy and self sufficient and I was marveling just the other night about how "normal" he seems.  Read more »

How African Societies Protect the Innocence and Magic of Childhood

There is a new boy in my daughter’s class. He told her a thing or three that resulted in us having to have ‘the chat’ at bedtime last night. “Was Father Christmas real? What about the Tooth Fairy? The Easter Bunny? The Easter Monkey?” She wanted to know and know immediately. Now without boring you about what particular beliefs my family holds there were two things that were foremost in my mind.  Read more »

Reflections from a Happy Third Culture Kid 20 Years Later

Stephan Wudy is a third culture kid who was born in Germany to a Taiwanese mother and an Austrian father. He speaks four languages—Mandarin, German, English and Spanish—and feels happiest when traveling. Two years ago he quit his job to spend over a year traveling around the world. And he still travels every chance he gets even though he is back in Germany working full time while getting his executive MBA.  Read more »

Is Motherhood More Bitter Than Sweet?

Motherhood is more difficult than I thought it would be, a lot more difficult. The witching hour is no joke, and is why, I am certain, cocktail hour was invented.   “Please sit down or I’ll have to take your food away. Hold your milk in a normal way. Eat over your plate. That is not a napkin. Don’t eat your sister’s salad.  We don’t spit in this family!” 99% of the time, dinner with my five-year old son Melese is completely exhausting.  Read more »

Is It Ok to Leave a Sleeping Baby Home Alone?

My daughter loves to sing. I’m not surprised. As the daughter of two musicians, she has had music around her since conception. Lately, my mother-in-law (MIL) has been teaching her Chinese children’s songs and it’s so lovely to hear her little voice singing the words. One of these songs is called “Good Little Rabbit 小兔子乖乖” and she’s taken to singing it every time anyone comes through the apartment door.  Read more »

Not a Fan of Disney Princesses? Six Ideas to Change the Script

When my eldest daughter was younger, I imagined I was raising a tomboy. She would wear trousers and wildly run around, voicing sounds that my mother called “The Viking’s Battle Cry.” She enjoyed movement and could walk long distances if she chose. Her will was strong and she was never shy to say if something bothered her. When my friends were complaining that their daughters refused to wear anything that wasn’t pink, I proudly presented my own girl in cargo pants and a T-shirt.  Read more »

My Chinese Mother-in-Law Comes to Canada: A Foreigner in A Foreign Land

Since moving to Beijing and marrying my Chinese husband, it has been one adventure after another as I navigate this Chinese culture as a foreigner while also navigating the demands of a relationship. If there’s one main thing that I’ve learned to do since moving to China, it’s this: when we are in a foreign environment as opposed to our home countries, we must suspend all former perceptions of what is “normal.  Read more »

Why Racism Destroys Us All: Lessons from the Documentary “American Promise”

The filmmakers of American Promise, a documentary made by two African American parents about the experience of their son, Idris, and another African American boy, Seun, at the Dalton School in New York City over the course of 13 years, are being criticized for their decision to document their child so closely, as well as for their parenting decisions.  Read more »

Thankfulness, Insecurity and Adoption: A Messy Lesson

My daughter Meazi’s second grade class visits an assisted living facility every month. For the November trip they planned a “Make a Thanksgiving Turkey” craft for the seniors living at the facility. I signed up to be a volunteer parent. The night before I spoke to Meazi about how happy I was to be going with her and how lucky I felt that I was going to get to spend some time with her during the school day.  Read more »

How I Talk to My Kindergarten Classroom About Race

Children thrive in classrooms where they feel “known”, where their experiences and voices are valued. These classrooms become safe spaces for children to take risks and challenge themselves as they learn to think critically about the world around them and learn the skills necessary to succeed both in and out of the classroom. As teachers work to set up classrooms, plan curriculum over various units of study, design newsletters or other communication home to families, and choose the books that will fill our classroom libraries, we ask ourselves how can we create an inclusive and safe community of learners?   To this end, many schools have become devoted to social and emotional literacy, to creating curriculum and school wide experiences that take into consideration the emotional lives of children and how to help them navigate through conflicts, learn language to be inclusive with one another, and help to name and regulate difficult emotions that arise.  Read more »

My Son’s Father is an Addict. How Do I Embrace His Heritage?

My son has inherited my pale Russian pale complexion and long lashes, and his Chinese father's beautiful eyes and dark hair. He is gorgeous, something most mothers can say about their children with pride. People have commented that he looks like a little doll. Yet it has been a struggle for me to embrace his “Chineseness.”   I am raising my son on my own, strike that.  Read more »

The Estranged Japanese Dad

On my first day, working as a housekeeper for a Japanese family of four, a husband and wife and their two sons, the mom requested I prepare dinner for them after I finished tidying up and doing the laundry. “Should I prepare dinner for four?” I asked. “No, just three,” she replied. “My husband doesn’t come home till midnight. It’s usually just me and the kids for dinner.  Read more »

A California Public School Snapshot: What Makes Berkeley so Great?

This post was written for the blogging carnival on Schools Around the World over at the great educational site The Educator's Spin on It.   Berkeley, California has a unique school system compared to most of the U.S. In the majority of the U.S., your address determines where your child goes to school. That means that people with higher incomes and pricier houses, with a higher property tax base, have access to the good public schools.  Read more »

Why I Love Raising My Children in Kenya

Three years ago, my husband and I moved to Western Kenya to work at an anti-poverty research organization. We did it with a spirit of do-gooder idealism, a sense of adventure, and a toddler in tow. A lot of people who move to a culture vastly different from their own do so in their youth. We shook up our foundations at exactly the time our friends and neighbors were buying houses, saving for retirement and joining their local PTAs.  Read more »

22 Adorable Children Laughing Around the World

One of the best sounds in the world is hearing a child’s laughter. Laughter is infectious and makes us feel good. But it also does more than that. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that a “strong sense of humor is an important part of positive emotion and may help children to be more resilient.” Laughter has also been linked to helping children negotiate the complex period of pre-adolescence and adolescence.  Read more »

Single Parenting: When You’re Not the Fun Parent

My six-year-old daughter is now one of an incredible number of children in America who bobble back and forth between two homes due to separation or divorce. At first she was stressed about ping-ponging between my home and her dad's and resisted the whole enterprise. Eight months into it she has, for the moment at least, accepted her current reality and has found ways even to enjoy it.  Read more »

Thanks to Chinese Potty-Training We’re Done With Diapers at 19 Months

I never fully understood the real feeling of pride until I had a child. There are depths to the feeling that I’d never mined. It’s like a geyser of emotion sometimes, flowing out of me in an arc of absolute wonder. I’m so proud of her, so often. It saturates my entire being.   We live in China and have been pushing the EC method or “Elimination Communication” method since she was four months old.  Read more »

Are French Kids Better Behaved Because They are Spanked?

There are a number of us in the States who seem to be falling over in toddler-styled apoplectic fits over the positive press French parenting has been receiving of late. One of the most common complaints I saw emerging from the comment discussions is the French propensity for la fessée or spanking.   I think it is best we clear the air and address this head on.  Read more »

Cross-Cultural Parenting in Japan: Differences in Affection

My two-year-old daughter and I have a routine we do every now and then and it goes like this:   “Who loves you very much?” “Mama!” “Who loves your curly red hair?” “Mama!” “Who loves you even though you’re very naughty? “Mama!”   Sometimes, just for fun, I’d ask silly questions and she would still answer “Mama!”   We have another routine in which I ask her, “Can Mama give you a machine gun kiss?” She’d pause and think.  Read more »

The Cultural Dilemma of American Summers for Immigrant Parents

I don’t know how to run a lemonade stand, make ice pops or build a sandcastle—all time-honored traditions of an American summer that I am struggling to acquire alongside my three-year-old Indian-American daughter. Among the many cultural dilemmas that we immigrant parents in the U.S. navigate when raising our children in a completely different culture is how to engage in the everyday rituals of our adopted homeland so that our children can fully embrace their hyphenated heritage.  Read more »

Disney’s Poor Track Record with Foreign Accents

Children’s films and cartoons are often based on moral stories where a social message is repeated several times: the good almost always triumphs over the bad. And the women are often mothers, princesses or housekeepers but that’s another topic all together! Disney’s questionably poor track record in including characters of other races has been widely discussed.  Read more »

Lessons from Ecuador on Raising Multicultural Kids

Every year I go on a two-month pilgrimage from San Francisco to Quito, Ecuador with my two kids, ages nine and five, so they can practice Spanish and get immersed back into my culture. I’m originally from Ecuador, but my husband is from North America. He grew up in Hannover, Massachusetts in a house located next to his dad’s veterinarian hospital.  Read more »

How to Talk to Kids About Race: What’s Appropriate for Ages 3-8

The topic of race is too often reduced to encouraging our children to ignore the racial differences around them, with the idea that this will result in creating a “colorblind” child who is more inclusive in her ability to see beyond color. There’s nothing wrong with wanting our children to look beneath the surface. That’s why we say things like “don’t judge a book by its cover” and “it’s what’s on the inside that really matters.  Read more »

Cross-Cultural Parenting in Guatemala: Rethinking Cultural Norms

In a few short months I will be a first time mom. So, like any U.S. mom-to-be, I have been doing my reading; bits of BabyWise and Attachment Parenting, WebMD and my favorite mommy blogs are always open on my browser. I mean what new mom doesn’t want to have the Happiest Baby on the Block? I am a firm believer that our U.S. culture convinces us if we read and plan ahead of time then we will be better parents.  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 »

How Community Gardens Help Kids Become Good Global Citizens

Over the course of the last year, my family has taken a big step towards becoming good stewards of the Earth by “going green” and building neighborhood ties through participation in our community garden.   Community gardens provide important and valuable benefits for children. This type of gardening makes it easy for your kids to become interconnected nature lovers.  Read more »

How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law

I am standing at my kitchen sink here in Beijing. I’m about to wash the day’s final few dishes in a kitchen that I can now spin around in knowing every item is placed exactly where I want it; every cupboard has been cleaned and ordered, the floor is clear of clutter and my beautiful spice rack containing gems like oregano, curry powder and basil is, once again, front and center beside my stove.  Read more »

How African Moms Can Teach You To Be a Better Parent

Most American moms can probably relate to these scenarios: You tell your child it's time to go home and he runs the other direction. Or he collapses in a heap telling you his "legs don't work" when you're trying to get out the door. Or after much coaxing, he finally agrees to chew a piece of the disagreeable dinner you've slaved over, and then defiantly pushes the chewed up morsel out of his mouth, which lands squarely on his plate, a disgusting masticated symbol of the end result of your best intentions.  Read more »

How to Teach Kids about Race and Social Justice: One Teacher’s Approach

When it came time to talk about Martin Luther King Jr. to my Kindergarten students, I found myself struggling to communicate who he was. I wanted to convey the themes that stood out to me the most about Dr. King: courage, standing up for a community, and using peaceful means to bring about big, important social changes. But I didn’t know what was developmentally appropriate for five and six year olds.  Read more »

Is My Son Biracial if You Can’t Tell?

“Mamá, you and me are cream colored and Papá is brown,” observed my three-year-old this morning.  There’s nothing attached to that statement.  He also informs us of the color of every bus, chicken, fruit, poop…he doesn’t even have a favorite color yet—his favorite color is whichever one he happens to be looking at.   “Yes, we’re all beautiful colors,” I said.  Read more »

Is French Parenting Really Better? Part 1

Baguettes vs. Big Macs: A Series on French vs. American Parenting   Someone turned to me the other day in response to a comment I made, slightly in jest about depriving my kids, and said: "What kind of mother are you?!”   I laughed it off but it got me thinking. I don’t really like putting myself in any kind of box, unless it is dark, sound and toddler proof for about eight hours.  Read more »

My Son was Bullied for Looking Different

When my son’s patka (small Sikh turban) was pulled off his head at school, my initial reaction was to educate the children about what the patka represents. So I shared the story of “A Lion’s Mane” with my son’s Kindergarten class.   I presented the story in smaller chunks to ensure their understanding.  It was fun and interactive; a royal procession left the room at the end of the day with hand-made crowns atop glowing faces.  Read more »

How My Chinese Mother-in-Law Replaced my Husband

I sat around a table of couples in my husband’s hometown this spring, all his former classmates and their wives. Each pair had children and shared lots of stories of life with a baby. Our daughter was only five months old at the time. We were just beginning the journey.   What makes our journey unique, however, is our negotiation of roles between Chinese father and Canadian mother, and specifically surrounding gender equity.  Read more »

Don’t Spank My Baby! Cross-Cultural Differences in Love and Affection

My mother-in-law tried to eat my baby once.   Actually, she still tries.   Whenever we visit my husband’s home on the Black Sea, his mom smooches and smothers our cocuklar until they slither limp from her arms.   Sometimes, Sevim’s grandmotherly embraces end in tears.   My in-laws, you see, love hard. Like most Turks they are quick to pinch a child’s cheek or swat their bottom, all in the name of love.  Read more »

How I Raise My Kids to Respect Their Elders, Nigerian Style

I came to the United States 13 years ago, as an adult from Nigeria. Despite being well traveled as a former airline employee, I had very little understanding of other cultures beyond my own.   In Nigeria, we believe in showing the utmost respect for your elders--elders meaning parents and their peers, grandparents, older friends and teachers.  Read more »

The Rollercoaster of International Relocation as a Family of Five

The last time I lived as an expat, I was single, nineteen, with no dependents.  I had dropped out of college and moved to Europe to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  When I accepted an international assignment last year, my return to the expat life included a husband, three kids and two pets.  This probably doesn’t need to be said but moving a family of five (or seven if you count four-legged and winged members) is no simple feat.  Read more »

Why People Tell Me I’m Not Really Jamaican

The question of my origin is always inevitable. It is one of those 'getting to know you' questions, similar to “What do you do for a living?” Or “How old is your child?” However, I can never simply answer the question with a cursory response. I always feel the need to tell my story, in spite of its possible insignificance to the casual onlooker.  Read more »

Raising Globally-Minded Children—What? How? And Why?

One day, while driving around in our car, my four-year-old son complained from behind, “Ma, I wish all of us were not Indians. It is boring. You or Appa could have been Mexican or Italian.” I smiled at his wish for our family to be biracial. I was also proud because the global mindset that we have tried to infuse in our children early on, was presenting itself in little ways—like how he thought a third language or a piñata could spice up our lives.  Read more »

Mixed Up about Racial Politics and Parenting

Whether I like it or not, I’ve had to contend with the nexus of parenting and racial politics. This has included pondering kid-friendly conversations about color and the need to conduct these conversations in the context of resisting patriarchy. In truth, my varied racial conundrums are not so unique. Procreating across the color-line, whether coerced or consensual, is as old as America.  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 »

Want to Raise a Global Citizen? Follow Soccer!

Ever since our son was born almost eight years ago, my husband and I have been committed to raising him and his younger sister bilingual (Mandarin/English) and bicultural, with an interest in the world beyond our borders. We send them to a Mandarin immersion school, they have traveled internationally since they were tiny, and we take full advantage of the San Francisco Bay Area's rich diversity to learn about the world’s cultures, especially the food! But in the last couple of years, one interest, more than any other, has begun to turn my son into a true global citizen: his love of soccer.  Read more »

Parenting in Kenya: What It Takes a Village Really Means

Caleb, my three-year-old son, and I walk down the craggy Kenyan road, one of his little hands in mine and the other clutching his prized soccer ball. A man is coming our way, looking at Caleb, his ball, and smiling.  I brace myself for the inevitable as he says it: “Habari mtoto. Give me that ball.” “No!” screams Caleb, clutching his ball even closer.  Read more »

The Problem with Multicultural Children in Media

The bombardment of advertising and other images (television, books, lunchboxes, t-shirts, etc.) is amazingly powerful for curious, young minds. When most of the images shown do not represent the way all of our children look, it's important to promote more inclusive images at home to counteract this. I didn't really pay too much attention to these images, even those directly targeted at children, until I realized my kids were paying attention! When they started drawing princesses with only long, blonde hair and pink skin, I knew there was an issue.  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 I Don’t Buy Made in China for My Baby as a Beijing Expat

It’s funny that until I had my daughter I had never once looked at the design of strollers as they rolled past me on the sidewalk. Now, ever since our daughter Echo was born in January, I’ve been lusting for a three-wheeler, with shocks, adjustable handle, hand brake, large “pumpable” wheels, reversible seat (to switch from front to back-facing) that reclines for the wee ones but sits up for the toddlers, with a sun shade and a place for bags beneath, and in a flat colour without the gaudy Chinese-style decals of cartoon characters on the awning…not that I have any requirements or anything! If I could get chrome fenders and a hood ornament too, I probably would.  Read more »

Don’t Touch My Child! Lessons from Asia

The American psyche is still reeling 33 years after the disappearance of little Etan Patz on his neighborhood corner. Kids have never been more coddled and cooped up. Activities like biking to school, which were once commonplace, now risk getting parents reported to social services, publicly ostracized, thrown in jail and on occasion nearly punched out by well-meaning grannies.  Read more »

Mango Pops over Mac and Cheese: Jewish American Expats in Hong Kong

“I am English,” I heard my then six-year-old son proclaim to his friend. “English?” I asked him. “Why would you say English?” “It’s really the only language I can speak well,” he simply stated. He is an astute and introspective child, an early reader and keen observer of details, yet when I explained to him that he is American, he stared at me blankly.  Read more »

Breastfeeding in Jordan

When my parents moved to Amman, Jordan to teach at the American School, my daughter was just over a year old and I was pregnant with our second child. Even though my parents encouraged us to visit them once the baby was born, traveling to the Middle East with two infants (one breastfeeding) was not high on my list of fun family vacations. Yet, as my parents' stories of warm, friendly people, beautiful country and layers of history trickled back to us via email, I began to imagine that we might be able to make the journey.  Read more »

Common Disagreements in Multicultural Families

Raising children in a multicultural setting can be challenging, especially when two cultures say the exact opposite about caring for your child. In my case, American and Chinese cultures disagree on everything from sleep to independence and temperature. Here are some examples of the differences I have encountered in our family. Sleep Americans have very different ideas about sleep and the sleeping environment than the Chinese.  Read more »

A Marriage That Breaks all the Rules

“I made the white cabbage Indian style and the red cabbage for the kids the Belgian way,” my husband tells me. Usually around 11 o’clock, my husband calls to relay what he is making for lunch while changing our 18-month-old daughter’s diaper and giving our two-and-a-half-year old a snack between meals.  While I have happily assumed the role of financially providing for the family, my husband seamlessly takes amazing care of our two little ones in addition to finishing his masters in psychology at night.  Read more »

Almost African: My Childhood as a Serbo-Croatian in Sudan

My mother met my Sudanese stepfather in our small town in ex-Yugoslavia when I was five. Everything about him fascinated me. From his booming laugh, his handsome dark face and dazzlingly white teeth, his flamboyant manner and leather hats to the funny way he spoke Serbo-Croat. A few years later they married, and when I was twelve, we moved to his hometown of Khartoum, leaving behind bewildered and tearful relatives.  Read more »

We Don’t Need Another Multicultural Hero. Or Do We?

With Martin Luther King Day just around the corner in the U.S., I’ve been thinking a lot about heroes, raising global kids and cultural literacy. As an anthropologist, the topic of cultural icons—who they are and how and why they are honored—has always fascinated me. But it was only when I married a Turkish man and had kids that I really started paying attention.  Read more »

Our Top 10 Articles in 2011

If you haven’t checked out all these great articles from our most read articles in 2011, then you definitely should get caught up on them now. Here are our InCultureParent readers’ favorites over this past year. 1. Why African Babies Don’t Cry 2. Breastfeeding in the land of Ghengis Khan 3. Reunited Outside the Orphanage Walls 4. Falling off the Opol Wagon 5.  Read more »

How to Raise Strong and Confident Asian Pacific American Daughters

A few years ago, I took a seminar called, "Raising Strong and Confident Daughters." My husband laughed at me. "Could our daughters be any stronger or more confident?" The class was an eye-opener for me, not just in how to raise my girls, but also in understanding my own Chinese-American childhood. I had no memory of dealing with a lot of the issues the instructor talked about as being so important to pre-adolescent girls, such as friendship and physical appearance.  Read more »

Arranged Marriage 101

I’ve realized the term “love marriage” is absent in the West. In India and a few other countries in South Asia, it would denote one of the two possible ways leading to a union, the other being arranged marriage. Love is probably the last thing on the checklist when two people are arranged to live together for the rest of their lives. Strange but true.  Read more »

What’s an Asian? Race and Identity for a New Generation

My eight-year-old daughter did something a few weeks ago that surprised me. She asked me what “Asian” meant. In Britain, Asian is usually taken to describe people of South Asian origin—Pakistani, Bengali, Indian and Sri Lankan, unlike America where Asian generally denotes East Asians. People my age and older have been grouped into one of a few broad categories: white, black or Asian, with little ambiguity about this.  Read more »

Netting the Clouds for My Identity

Several years ago, I decided I wanted to write something “true.” I wanted to write a memoir about growing up in my Arab-American family. But somehow, almost before I’d set pen to paper, I felt silenced: the words were missing. I’d been writing fiction for a long time by that point. But as I struggled to describe the past, to run my hands over the texture of childhood, of family dinners, conversations, and travel, it all seemed to evade me; it was like trying to catch clouds with a butterfly net.  Read more »

Why Doesn’t China Let Baba Go Home?

My six-year-old, Luca, is at the age where he is starting to understand complicated concepts in the world around him. He listens to National Public Radio (NPR) with me in the car and asks thoughtful questions about the content, sometimes at the moment and sometimes a couple of days later, when I can barely remember the broadcast that is still so clear in his mind.  Read more »

The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep

We have a weird relationship to babies and sleep in the West. I was reminded of this when I spoke to my German sister-in-law recently. She had just arrived back in Germany from Spain, where she was visiting her little sister who had just had a baby. My sister-in-law commented that the baby was great, except “she doesn’t sleep in her bed, only in the arms, so that’s a little hard.  Read more »

Mama, What Colour is Me? How My Child Defines Race

Disclaimer: Please note that this piece is not intended to make light of the serious issue of race/ethnicity. Its aim, however, is to explore what happens if we allow ourselves to look at skin colour afresh in the way that children do. I am black. My skin colour may be brown but as far as talking about race or ethnicity or whatever the current politically correct term is—I am black.  Read more »

Breasts are for Babies? Perceptions of Breastfeeding in Italy

Before the seventies, breastfeeding was the norm in Italy. All babies were breastfed either by their mothers, even though in some cases these women were too poor to have a good enough diet to feed their babies, or by other mothers when the mother had to return to work in the country. Babies who were breastfed by other mothers were considered to be something like step-children to these women, and they called these wet nurses “Mamma Filomena,” “Mamma Maria,” etc.  Read more »

A Different World: No Longer Brown in White America

To my absolute horror, my parents moved our family from the outer fringes of Detroit to a small city in Tennessee in the middle of my fifth grade year. Not only was I uprooted from a neighborhood and a school I loved, but I was transplanted from one racially and culturally diverse close-in suburb to a town where some people still believed that the South had won the Civil War  Read more »

Nudity: Getting (Un)dressed in the Czech Republic

As a heat wave hit Prague this spring, clothes came off faster than the record breaking temperatures rose. Strolling through Prague's parks, I encountered locals sunning themselves and even saw a few toddlers in the buff testing out the city's newly activated fountains. While I managed to keep my own and my kids' clothes on (though I lost the battle over shoes), I noticed many Czechs of both genders stripped down to their underwear in the public parks.  Read more »

What Color is Latina?

Although I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico to Cuban parents and am unconditionally of 100 percent Cuban descent, I have often felt somewhat disconnected from being a true Latina due to the color of my skin. From an early age, I never felt like I fit into the mold of what a Latina should look like. In school, when I played the coveted lead role of Maria in West Side Story, it was strongly suggested that I dye my hair a darker color even though I was from the same place (Puerto Rico) as the real Maria.  Read more »

France: Behind the Times and Unconcerned

In France, officials and pundits like to talk about how France is 20 years behind the United States. Sometimes this is portrayed as a positive (obesity rates, crime statistics), and sometimes as a negative (technology, business, customer service). As an American living in France for over ten years, I can see how it's both.   Those Americans who grew up before the 80s may remember certain freedoms we had as children: playing outside on summer evenings on the sidewalk with the other neighborhood kids, riding bikes around aimlessly, walking to swimming pools and friends' houses to play.  Read more »

Where are the Brown Barbies for My Daughter?

Being part of a family where we each have a unique skin tone and hair type has made me really think about the images my children are bombarded with every day, through adverts, toys, games, clothing, etc. Although it is clear there is a widespread and concerted effort to represent all different looks these days, when you actually start to pay attention, you soon realise we have a long way to go.  Read more »

Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan

In Mongolia, there's an oft-quoted saying that the best wrestlers are breastfed for at least six years—a serious endorsement in a country where wrestling is the national sport. I moved to Mongolia when my first child was four months old, and lived there until he was three.   Raising my son during those early years in a place where attitudes to breastfeeding are so dramatically different from prevailing norms in North America opened my eyes to an entirely different vision of how it all could be.  Read more »

Stupider Than a Potato: Life With My Chinese Mother

I spent Christmas in Hong Kong with my brother and my parents. It was the first family holiday (minus my two sisters) we had in a very long time. We were walking around in Mong Kok the day after Boxing Day, strolling down the narrow path flanked on either side by busy stalls selling handbags, t-shirts, knick knacks and souvenirs on Ladies Street. The sky was clear and the sun was in our faces.  Read more »

Why African Babies Don’t Cry

I was born and grew up in Kenya and Cote d'Ivoire. From the age of 15 I lived in the UK. However, I always knew that I wanted to raise my children (whenever I had them) at home in Kenya. And yes, I assumed I was going to have them. I am a modern African woman, with two university degrees, and a fourth generation working woman, but when it comes to children, I am typically African.  Read more »

Tired of Tears? Hair Care for Multi-Ethnic Children

Knots, and tangles, and tears, oh my! While Dorothy and her friends from The Wizard of Oz were scared with the thought of coming face to face with lions, and tigers, and bears, many parents of multi-ethnic children are just as apprehensive when faced with the task of washing, conditioning, and combing their child's hair. Dealing with frizzy, knotted, and tangled hair, are common concerns of parents with multi-ethnic children.  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 »

A World Apart from my Mother-in-Law

It wasn't until we adopted our daughter Willow that the full scale of the communication gulf between my husband's parents and me became plain. Born in southern China, educated as engineers in Hong Kong, and having raised their two sons in suburbs of Boston and Houston, my parents-in-law had a range of life experiences I would never fully comprehend.  Read more »
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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

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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

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Dear White Officer, Please Don't Shoot

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A Book that Celebrates Cross-Cultural Friendship

A great pick for back to school season

My Daughter’s 10 Favorite Multicultural Books

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

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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

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Homemade Art Books for Ramadan

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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
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?
Hi Hajar! I have 3 (almost 4, 10 weeks to go), we sleep on a king mattress with a single beside it, generally I sleep with the 3 on the King and my husband is on the single! (Babies are 6,4 and 1). ...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
Dear Arabic Dad, I disagree with Dr. Gupta's advice to drop Arabic if your children reject it. If you show your children that you are willing to speak English with them, they will not make the effor...
From How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad’s language is limited
How to teach our children, daughters in particular, how to live not as a victim in a world where they are victims? Sigh.... we so much want them to live in the santa clause and tooth faery and ideal...
From What I Can Do as a White Mom After Darren Wilson’s Acquittal
What a wonderful review! If you're interested, we'd love for you to link up this post (or any other that features diverse kid lit) with the Diverse Children's Books Link-up! You can find it at ...
From 2 Children’s Books about Jamaica
This is exactly what I wanted to teach my students. They are learning about traditional games from around the world and I found this wonderful website to get full of useful information! It helped me...
From Five Fun Games from Around the World
Hi there! Once you baby gets past the 3 month mark, it sounds like you still should wear or carry them?! Do you just not bundle them up as much or how do you wear them? Do you have any pictures :) m...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
Hi! I am wondering when you breastfeed your baby that long.. 4 years or so.. Do you ever introduce solids to them? Or so they just drink breast milk until age ...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
[…] http://www.incultureparent.com/2011/12/how-to-raise-confident-asian-pacific-american-daughters/ […...
From How to Raise Strong and Confident Asian Pacific American Daughters
This is a great collection of ideas for Chinese culture projects from some of my favorite bloggers! Thank...
From 18 Ways to Celebrate the Lunar New Year with Crafts, Food and Children’s Books
I wonder also that if your wife's native language (or at least one of the native languages) is Urdu, as she talks Urdu with her own mother, why doesn't she speak Urdu to your children? If you live i...
From How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad’s language is limited
I do call it latvian flashmob: just "break the door" and Come with my family to celebrate somebodys nameday. You Will never know how many guests Will be there....
From The Coolest Latvian Celebration You Probably Haven’t Heard of
I think spanking is the tool of the lazy parent. If you have to spank a child up to adulthood, then it is obviously not an effective form of disipline. Also, call me paranoid, but it seems like all...
From Are French Kids Better Behaved Because They are Spanked?
[…] Muslims fast for 30 days every year for Ramadan, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. Ramadan this year is happening during most of the month […...
From Ramadan: June 28-July 28
[…] What Makes Berkeley School so Great  from Stephanie from InCultureParent […...
From A California Public School Snapshot: What Makes Berkeley so Great?
Both of my parents are white (with roots in Ireland and England). My mother's side is very kissy-huggy, and I remember greeting both my maternal grandmother and grandfather with kisses on the cheek ...
From Cross-Cultural Parenting in Japan: Differences in Affection
[…] are so many incredible reasons to read diverse biographies; they can be summed up best in In Culture Parent magazine found digitally. The authors provided multiple valuable reasons but t...
From Ten Reasons Parents Should Read Multicultural Books to Kids
So glad to see all this and looking forward to doing it with our first come Sept, God willing. I am curious though, I see all these cosleeping articles and comments but have yet to find anyone expla...
From The African Guide to Co-sleeping
Hi all! American married to Egyptian and we are expecting our first in Sept, God willing. After speaking with many girls in the Arabic community as well as ladies married to Arabic men, most seem to...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
This article and some of the ensuing comments was familiar yet frustrating. I have a mother-in-law who takes up a lot of space and has made efforts to run things, but this is not her culture - this ...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
I'm Chris, a reading teacher and father of 4 amazing kids. Forget about everything you've read and heard about how and when your child should learn to read - most of the information out there is irr...
From How Should We Teach Reading to a Bilingual Child?
Hi Mira, Love your list. I would add the following titles: - Grandfather Gandhi, by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus - The Last Kappa of Old Japan, by Sunny Seiki - Fly Free, by Roseanne Thong -...
From Best Asian-American Children’s Books
I stumbled across this blog today while looking for resources for my, hopefully, multilingual baby. It was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you so much for capturing what I am currently feelin...
From 10 Things Not to Say to Parents of Multilingual Children
Thanks for this lovely post! I agree completely -- all our kids need to see themselves reflected in literature so that they know that their stories matter too. I'd love it if you checked out my bo...
From Why We Need to Read Multicultural Children’s Books
[…] unity and eating them brings good luck. I don’t have my recipe, but I found a few good ones here, here and […...
From Chinese New Year Recipe: Yuanxiao (sweet rice balls)
[…] Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan | InCulture Parent […...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
Thank you for your post! I am also working through raising my child with a sense of religious community and ritual without strictly adhering to certain interpretations of religious faith. (And also ...
From Does Religion Matter? Juggling Two Faiths in One Family
I don't understand. I always thought that discipline was a major part of far East culture. (no racism intended of course). So I'm a little confused. Were the examples mentioned in the article consid...
From Cross-Cultural Differences in Discipline in Japan