Tradition and Parenting

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Does Religion Matter? Juggling Two Faiths in One Family

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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. Rituals, defined as a set of actions performed for symbolic value, reinforce and underpin values. Rituals are often associated with tradition and religion, but they do not have to be religious in nature.  Read more »

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Tanabata Festival: July 7
Tanabata is the Japanese star festival. The cultural festival dates back approximately 2000 years and has its roots in a Chinese legend.  Read more »

The Great Ear Piercing Debate in Our Multicultural Home

By Jan's wife Souad. Piercing the ears of our daughters is a debate I have been having with my husband since our eldest was born, over eight years ago.   I never suspected ear-piercing to be such a controversial subject. Well, suffice to browse a couple of UK forums to witness tempers flaring and name-calling as soon as the question is asked: "At what age is it appropriate for a girl to get her ears pierced?"   I asked my English friends.  Read more »

Don’t Kill That Spider! Superstitions in a Multicultural Family

People keep saying when you marry someone you actually marry their family. But when you marry someone outside your culture, it’s not just a new family you’re getting. The package contains a lot more.   You have a new cuisine to master (and even some new cookware to prepare it with) and new dishes on your weekly home menu list. You have new types of snacks piling up in the pantry and new drinks (some which you never tried before or didn’t know even existed) in the fridge.  Read more »

The Challenge of Making Holidays Special Far from Home: Navaratri in the U.S.

Golu is an element of Navaratri unique to certain communities in South India, although the festival of Nava-ratri (nine-nights) is celebrated with great grandeur in many parts. During Navaratri, Hindus evoke the blessings of the Goddesses of health, wealth and prosperity, and the celebration culminates in Dusshera (the tenth day) that is auspicious for new beginnings.  Read more »

The Coolest Latvian Celebration You Probably Haven’t Heard of

You have a what day? The question I have encountered from locals and expatriates innumerous times throughout a decade while living and working in Shanghai, China and now, in Canada. To a person who has grown up celebrating her Name Day every year, as well as that of my mom, dad, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends and classmates, the puzzling look of people at first made me feel uncomfortable, almost apologetic, as if I’ve made up a story and now can’t proceed convincingly with my own lies.  Read more »

What’s a Mosque Like? Glimpse Inside

Mosques are frequently portrayed in popular media in one of two ways: negative or evil. In the best light, mosques are seen as conservative, male-dominated places and in the worst light they are characterized as bastions of terrorism. Neither are true.   Here's a scene from mosque today where we went to celebrate Eid, the joyous celebration ending the 30-day fast of Ramadan.  Read more »

My First Ramadan in the Sudan

My introduction to Ramadan started early. I was 12 and my mother and Sudanese stepfather had moved us to Khartoum, Sudan. Apart from feeling a sense of displacement and missing the relatives I had left behind in ex-Yugoslavia, I also had to adjust and familiarize myself with my stepfather’s Muslim family and the country’s prevalent Muslim populace.  Read more »

How I Got the Canadian Mother’s Day I Wanted in China

Today is Mother’s Day. At least, it’s Mother’s Day in our house, long after the real Mother’s Day has come and gone. On the actual Mother’s Day, I arranged for my husband and I to take my mother-in-law out for lunch. Or so I thought. After all, my own mother is all the way in Canada. All I could do was wait for the evening and then phone my mother to wish her a happy day on her Mother’s Day morning (12-hour time difference).  Read more »

Teaching My Child to Find Spirituality in Nature

The past four years feel like a whirl of change with pregnancy, birth and learning how to be a mother. It has been a time of discovery as, little by little, I learn who this beautiful child is that with whom the Creator has graced me. Before Amrita was born, I would often reflect on what kind of mother I felt I naturally was and what kind of mother I would strive to be.  Read more »

My Chinese New Year: Welcoming the Year of the Snake

As a first generation American, you always watched other families sitting around a Christmas tree or carving a turkey, consoled by watching reruns of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But Chinese New Year—that was different. That was my holiday, the one that made waking up early exciting, slowly lulled awake by the smells of burning incense, and the 10 special dishes my mom prepared, dishes with names that alluded to prosperity and luck.  Read more »

How We Honor Christmas When We’re Not Christian

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The Secrets of Raising an Enlightened Teen—Part IV

In this final installment of the series, I would like to address the Buddhist teaching on the last stage of early human conditioning, from the teenage years into the early twenties. What makes writing this article particularly poignant is that my own beloved son has just turned 20.   According to our Buddhist tradition, this stage represents the final aggregate of foundational conditioning.  Read more »

Celebrating Diwali Outside India

Growing up in India, Diwali, or Deepawali, meaning festival of lights, was the most anticipated day of the year. Diwali meant new clothes, lots of delicious treats, lighting lamps/lights, setting off a gazillion fireworks, a sparklingly clean home and vacation from school that lasted around 10 days.   There are multiple religious stories that signify the origin of Diwali.  Read more »

A Buddhist Approach to Sex and Your Teenager

If we are honest, as parents we would all probably like to see our children join a monastery and be celibate until they are older and more mature! How many of us can forget the turbulent early years of trying to negotiate our own sexual terrain? In this article, I would like to introduce a mindful approach to sexuality and parenting. Evolution created our desire to procreate and then made the experience pleasurable.  Read more »

Engaging the Spirituality of a Teenager

My daughter’s first year of high school was coming to an end, and we both needed a weekend away to restore body, mind and soul. I thought about renting a cottage on the nearby Maine coast or getting away to a spa I had heard about. But my teenage daughter’s response to both options was less than enthusiastic. “It’ll be too cold by the ocean!” and “Why go to a spa? There is nothing to do there.  Read more »

Buddhist Insights into Raising a Balanced Teenager

For a parent, the teenage years are probably the most daunting of all. Many of us find it easy to fall into a loose form of cognitive dissonance with our child, a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Or we become alienated by the deep yearning for independence that our beloved so obviously feels at this stage. I am happy to report that this does not have to happen; there is, as we Buddhists are fond of saying, “a Middle Way.  Read more »

Raising a Hijab-Wearing Daughter in a World that Doesn’t Understand

When she turned 15, my daughter announced her intention to start wearing the hijab (Muslim head scarf). At the time, we had been living in Qatar for nine years and upon our arrival in Dubai she donned her first veil. Nothing prepared me for the deluge of feelings that followed. Her soft cheeks, her doe shaped eyes and a perfect nose used to be encircled by a halo of dark brown hair that I tended to lovingly while she was younger.  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 »

What’s Easter without a Whipping?

This year I saw a different side of the age-old Czech tradition of whipping. Although I've been on the receiving end of the Czech pomlázka tradition (an Eastern European Easter tradition where a whip made from braided pussy willow twigs is used by men to swat girls and women), the gentle swats I've gotten from my husband's family always seem a gesture of hospitality and a matter of custom--never a whipping, in the physical sense.  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 »

Growing Up Baha’i in Rural Maine: A Not-so-Secret Double Life

My daughter seemed ill at ease in her first grade classroom. We had recently moved to the town in which we have now lived for more than a decade, a university town in the northern part of one of the most culturally homogeneous states in the union—Maine. It was Christmas time, and the children were singing carols, none of which my daughter knew. “Christmas is for Christians” read a sign posted in front of one of the frat houses on campus.  Read more »

Celebrating a Holiday You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

Despite volumes of parenting advice and research, which seem to have multiplied over the past generation and get revised annually, when it comes to the day-to-day labor of love of raising our children, most parents do what their parents and parents’ parents did before: go with our gut. In other words, we make a lot of it up as we go along. Depending on our life circumstances and cultural milieu, we invent different things.  Read more »

Birth, Loss and In Between

Since I was a young girl, I dreamed of being a mother. Throughout my adult life, it was the moment I most anticipated. When I finally fell pregnant, it was a surprise, one my husband and I welcomed. At 20 weeks, we found out that our son had a heart defect. We were devastated. Doctors said it may be a marker for some major genetic disorder. We spoke to a genetic counselor, who spent most of her time trying to convince us to terminate the pregnancy.  Read more »

Postpartum in China—Confinement or Luxury?

My partner, Guo Jian, has been priming me for the “moon month” or zuo yuezi 坐月子. When my in-laws were here a couple of weeks ago (the precursor to their more permanent visit before the baby’s arrival) and we were downstairs helping to unload the car, a perfect stranger noticed my advanced pregnant shape, the presence of parental figures and Guo Jian and I helping them with their things.  Read more »

Why Kids Need the Scary Stuff Too

Three years ago, my husband and I adopted two children--an African-American daughter and a Korean son--over a period of just seventeen months. During one of our adoption homestudy visits, I remember scrambling to move a large framed print of a green devil from view in our TV room. Yet, the framed Korean mask dance figures which appeared far scarier to me at the time, remained on display.  Read more »

Why I Don’t Want My Children to Be Happy

I came to Amy Chua’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, and its controversy late. Even though I never had parents who hit me or called me garbage, I could relate to a lot of what Amy Chua had to say. Like Amy Chua, my parent’s held an unfailing belief that I would succeed. The more I read, the more it seemed that her detractors were mainly critical of her certainty, more than anything else.  Read more »

A Few Drops Outside the Tribe

Although I have a diverse cultural background, I have always identified myself as a proud Native American woman. My family is from the Pueblo of Isleta, just south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. My grandfather was born and raised in Isleta, speaking our native language of Tiwa before learning English. I am blessed with the dark, striking features of my mother, features which identify me as Native.  Read more »

Teaching my Muslim Son about 9/11

My eldest is fascinated by comparisons of the largest tsunamis or most populated cities in the world. One night at the dinner table, he asks, “Mama, what is the tallest building in New York City?” I look at him and hesitate, “Well, umm, it used to be these two buildings called the Twin Towers…” I can see his eyes transfixed on me as he sees the caveat coming.  Read more »

Giving Birth Naturally in Hong Kong, the Land of the Lucky

In a country where women routinely consult the Chinese zodiac to determine the most auspicious date for the caesarean delivery of their babies, I was preparing for a natural childbirth in a private English hospital on the top of Hong Kong’s highest mountain in the days just after the British handover of the colony to China. The handover had taken place in July, but in September, the lights from the handover celebration that drew millions and was watched on television all over the world, still bathed the city in brilliance.  Read more »

African Parenting: The Sane Way to Raise Children

There is an oft-quoted African saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Less cited is the second half of the saying, “...and a community to keep the parents sane.” I started my pregnancy in the U.K. but one of the reasons I returned to Kenya—the country of my birth—to raise my daughter was for community. Community in Kenya takes many forms.  Read more »

How Do You Explain God to Kids?

I remember when I first showed my son an illustrated Bhagavad Gita—Our Most Dear Friend by Visakha. He was two years old and was too young for the text, but we gazed at the pictures together while sitting in our sunny living room as the fireplace warmed our feet. There were pictures of the Kurukshetra (the epic battle in the Mahabharata that was the impetus for the Gita), of Lord Krishna and of many beautiful things in nature, such as swans, peacocks, butterflies and lotuses.  Read more »

Identity Confusion: An Israeli Mom in NYC

In Israel almost everyone is Jewish, except of course for the Arabs with whom Jews rarely interact. As a Jew, if you decide to marry outside your religion or even do something as minor as celebrate a non-Jewish holiday in your own home, you experience a sense of betrayal. Betrayal of your land, your family and your supposed identity. But is religion really who we are? Or is it only a part of who we become after we taste and experience the world with openness and love.  Read more »

Burqas, Miniskirts and Sex: My Childhood in Saudi and Egypt

I remember my early childhood, growing up in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), as disturbing. Forced to cover my body in black from head to toe in the morning to go to school and then changing into a miniskirt to go out in the evenings was the source of much confusion for an eight-year-old girl. It was not at all easy for an Egyptian, moderate Muslim family to cope with the restrictions imposed in Saudi Arabia.  Read more »

Raised Under the Armenian Evil Eye

Growing up in a traditional Armenian home in Southern California, we had many superstitions and rituals. My mother was and still is the queen of superstition. Here are just a few of the many superstitions we followed:   • No whistling especially at night or evil spirits will come. • No cutting your nails at night. This will shorten your life.  Read more »

Baby-Making the Hindu Way

I had my parents quite nervous about whether or not I would ever get married and have a family. No one was quite sure when I would run off to the Himalayas and I know there was some heavy betting going on with high odds that I was going to do just that. Well, I am glad I didn't run off, as there was never any need to and I am glad I decided to get married and make babies.  Read more »

Circumcision Wars

Multicultural marriages are sometimes hard, sometimes war, sometimes sweet and sometimes exciting, but one thing is for sure—multicultural marriages are more tiring than marriages between people from one culture because you have to spend more energy understanding and sometimes adopting, or in my case fighting, a new set of customs and beliefs. What is more, when children come into the picture, multicultural marriages can become even more complicated in deciding whose set of beliefs the child will adopt.  Read more »
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For quite sometime, whenever there were articles that surfaced the internet concerning whether it was appropriate to breastfeed in public, I was so baffled. As a Mongolian, I was so shocked that som...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
For quite some whenever there was articles circulated on the internet concerning whether it is appropriate to breastfeed in public. As a Mongolian, I was so shocked that some countries considered i...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
I live with my Czech in laws with my four children and my Czech is crap I try to learn but the baby doesn't sleep well I'm a constant zombie and the brain just doesn't work. Plus being tired makes m...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
I am so glad I found this site. I am happy to see that I am not alone in experiencing 'family issues' after getting married. I am not from the West but I am married to a Canadian. I never truly unde...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
[…] my most favourite article about breastfeeding called Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan by Ruth Kamnitzer. I have no doubt that Mongolians would find our social stigmas around [R...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
[…] sources and reasons for the rules of these countries too, such as China, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, and Hungary (see above re “Titanic”).  Has anyone got s...
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[…] Source Inculture Parents […...
From Lotus Lanterns for Wesak (Buddha Day)
If your nerves shat down your hormones , can you get pregnant by injecting a sperm in you to develop a baby . Please let me know...
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[…] Diwali Lantern from InCultureParent […...
From Diwali Craft: Make a Lantern
Another great African American children's book is "Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters" Book by Fredrick McKissack, Jr. and Patricia McKissack A great DVD is Santa and pe...
From 11 African-American Children’s Books for Christmas and Kwanzaa
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From Why Your Bilingual Child Objects When You Switch Languages
This is really great! I wanted to do a book list for some of my friends and family about Kwanzaa. Thank you for this articl...
From 11 African-American Children’s Books for Christmas and Kwanzaa
This was interesting. My twin girls are 15 months, and although they are very verbal, we do not understand what they're saying. I'm American and their dad is French, and we live in France. I speak o...
From Si­, Yes: Raising Bilingual Twins
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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...
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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
[…] http://www.incultureparent.com/2011/02/breastfeeding-land-genghis-khan/ […...
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
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From Why African Toddlers Don’t Have Tantrums
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From Imbolc Craft: St. Brigid’s Cross
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From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
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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 ...
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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 […...
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Addressing the "grown up time" someone mentioned earlier...am 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...
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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 ...
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From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
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From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep