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.
Dealing with frizzy, knotted, and tangled hair, are common concerns of parents with multi-ethnic children. Regardless of the ethnic background of the parents, a multi-ethnic child's hair texture will probably be unlike either parent.
A simple fact of adoption is your adopted child will not look like you and your extended family. This can be had to accept.
I was born and grew up in Kenya and Cote d'Ivoire. From the age of fifteen I lived in the UK. However, I always knew that I wanted to raise my children (whenever I had them) at home in Kenya.
Family History

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. I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the rituals and expressions that come along with loss and grief.
Most of what I remember of my childhood consists of the image of my mother standing over me with a rattan cane in her hand, her eyebrows bunched together and her lips in a tight line. There was a lot of yelling, a lot of "Why are you so stupid?", and a lot of hitting. Even the teachers knew not to ask what I had done wrong when I showed up in school the next day, limping, with swollen purple gashes on my calves.
In Mongolia, breast milk is not just for babies, it's not only about nutrition, and it's definitely not something you need to be discreet about. It's the stuff Genghis Khan was made of.
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.
Choosing the right school for your kid is a decision that many parents don’t take lightly and it starts from preschool.  The level of due diligence many parents take is the equivalent of corporate lawyers scrutinizing a deal. Selecting...
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.
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).
One of my greatest fears as a white American woman adopting three Ethiopian children (two girls and a boy) was that I would mess up their hair.
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 an early childhood music and movement specialist, I like to start each school year by exploring music and dance from the continent of Africa. In Africa, music is deeply integrated into daily activities, it is used to convey news, to teach, to tell stories, for religious purposes and a lot more. Music and dance often overlap and in some languages, the same word is used to represent the two.
Growing up brown in White America and wanting something different for your kids.
When my daughter (aged three) started to ask questions about why we were not the same colour, I asked her what colour she thought she was.
My six-year-old, Luca, is at the age where he is starting to understand complicated concepts in the world around him. But it is difficult for a six-year-old to understand that his father cannot travel home to China because the government does not allow him to enter the country.
My childhood world was loosely divided into Inside (the “Arabs” and friends) and Outside (the “Americans”). But, of course, one could not examine this division too closely or it would start to crumble. For one, my father and his brothers had married Americans.
My eight-year-old daughter did something a few weeks ago that surprised me. She asked me what “Asian” meant. For my kids, a person is either brown like us, dark brown or yellow haired.
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.
Today’s kids need to know about the world’s celebrated visionaries and its unsung heroes too. One mom shares her thoughts on heroes, raising global kids and cultural literacy.
The freedom of growing up as the only Serbo-Croatian (with a Sudanese stepfather) in Sudan.
We’re your typical nontraditional family
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.
I anticipated that breastfeeding in public would be a problem in a country where the Muslim women routinely covered their heads and exposed very little flesh. I was wrong.
Normal to my expat kids in Hong Kong is pureed fresh mango ice pops, traditional Shabbat dinners and live-in help
Do you know what to say and not say to adoptive families?
The West's paranoia of strangers with our children and the big difference in Asia.
Here are our InCultureParent readers’ favorites over this past year.
China is a country full of knock-offs. Everyone here knows that to be true and so my Chinese husband and his parents have been adamant that we need to buy a stroller that wasn’t made in China. After all, they say, “made in China” doesn’t always mean solid. But that proved a little tricky.
Multicultural children are under-represented in mainstream media. The heroine is always white and black children don't usually have African features.
We scouted out the 10 most imaginative playgrounds from around the world.
There I was, a bride at the tender age of 20, living in a cozy townhouse with my husband and eagerly awaiting my first houseguests as a newly married woman. Excited and nervous, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d live up to the high standards of being a good Assyrian housewife.
Understanding the rules of Kenyan culture as a foreigner is sometimes challenging, like why strangers always wanted to take my child’s toys away.
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.
Soccer teaches kids eight key lessons about global citizenship
This black American father ponders the language we use to talk about race and wonders, what exactly should he call his child that his white wife and he have brought into the world? Is he mixed? Multicultural? Biracial? All these terms have their own set of difficulties.
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.
The question of my origin is always inevitable. Depending on the person on the opposite end of the conversation, my Jamaican heritage may be embraced like a novelty or dismissed with a statement like, “Oh, you’re an American.” In my experience, the latter always stems from Jamaicans. Jamaicans have their own assessment of a “true” Jamaican based on three major criteria.
Before the seventies, breastfeeding was the norm in Italy. But the feminist revolution paralleled the invasion of the first multinational companies shortly after 1968 and changed all that.
In Nigeria, we believe in showing the utmost respect for your elders. In the Yoruba tribe, we have several cultural norms related to how you greet and address elders. Fast forward to raising a child in America. How does one combine “hi mommy” with the “good morning mommy” from home? How do you teach your child what is valuable to you in your culture?
New mom Justine gets quite the shock when her Turkish in-laws first meet the baby. But things are not what they seem.
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.
When my daughter was born, my mother-in-law left her hometown and moved to Beijing, separated from her husband for the first time in their 35-year marriage. She left behind a prominent career as well as her aged father (my husband’s grandfather) for whom she was the primary caregiver for the past decade. A new generation is that important. Her role is clear. She has to be here.
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. I was hoping that the bullying incident might have encouraged his teachers to become more culturally responsive. I was very wrong.
An exploration of some of the more contentious points in French parenting like corporal punishment and leaving kids to fend for themselves along with random observations like the prominence of French three and four-year-olds with dummies—aka pacifiers—and security blankets?
When I was pregnant, we assumed that our baby would be an even mix: my Mexican husband’s dark brown complexion and black hair, plus my light skin and blue eyes, would naturally produce a tan child. Coffee with milk. Instead, our son has my exact coloring.
For years, I tried to talk about Dr. King without talking about racism. I thought my students would understand the themes of courage, social justice and empathy by talking in general terms about Dr. King’s dream of an inclusive world. I was wrong. So I came up with a new approach.
In Kenya, moms never seem to lose it with their kids. They are not prone to bouts of irrational rage at their children. They do not joke about drinking wine in sippy cups. They seem calmer and less stressed. Why is that?
Every year we go back to Ecuador in the summer so my kids can experience my heritage and language. But raising multicultural kids means influences from her American family are visible even in the most unexpected places.
Ever since my daughter was born 14 months ago, there’s been a war between cultures in my household. As the Canadian underdog surrounded by Chinese culture, I’m the one who has had to be more flexible, particularly related to the Chinese tradition in which extended family comes to care for both the infant and the new parents. In my culture, the new grandparents might come and stay for a week or two after a baby has been born, but then they leave.
Community gardens provide important and valuable benefits for children. This type of gardening makes it easy for your kids to become interconnected nature lovers. But there’s an added benefit too. Read more to find out.
How this family decided to adopt from Ethiopia and the importance of culture
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. This approach is inadequate and does not promote inclusivity. The following is a developmental guide to talking about race for ages three to eight.
Disney’s poor track record in including characters of other races has been widely discussed. But what about their linguistic diversity? What decisions are made about language use and language character?
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.
My husband and I are both foreigners in Japan, and even the cultures we were raised in are so different: American and Chinese. This has given me a chance to see childrearing from so many different perspectives. For as long as I could remember, my parents hardly ever hugged or kissed us, or each other. Nor did we say “I love you” to each other. My parents share the same sentiments as Japanese parents: I don’t need to say “I love you” because I say it with my actions which are weightier than words.
Would you judge a mom giving coffee to her infant in a bottle? You shouldn't. Here's why.
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.
We live in China and have been pushing the EC method or “Elimination Communication” method since she was four months old. This is the fancy term for something that has been practiced in China for centuries. Children here are often fully “squat trained” (rather than “potty,” as those are newer inventions to the culture) by the time they’re 10 months old. In fact, if they can stand and squat, most of the time it means that they can also do their potty business without any fuss. Traditional Chinese methods have their advantages, for sure.
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.
We traded access to great medical care for new exotic sounding diseases. We traded easy walks to a half dozen playgrounds for long walks in search of playmates. Instead of close proximity to grandparents, our son faced being a constant object of curiosity for strangers. As much as we extolled the virtues of our son's emerging global citizenship, we still thought parenting would be a greater challenge for us in Kenya. I now, after three years and another baby, realize the exact opposite is true.
Berkeley, California has a unique school system, compared to most of the U.S. Here's what I love about it.
Is it the punitive work culture in Japan that keeps Japanese dads away or gender roles and expectations?
My son's father is an active alcoholic and an addict. In order to protect myself and my son, I have made it clear that he is not allowed to see my son when he is drunk. This boundary means my son sees his father very rarely, and mostly outside our home. I have found that I have transferred my complex emotions about my son's father onto his culture.
One of the key goals in my kindergarten class is to create an inclusive and safe community of learners. The understanding I want my students to have when they leave my classroom is that we are all different in some ways and alike in others and that by understanding and recognizing our differences and similarities we are participating in an essential part of building a just, inclusive and safe environment. Here are the steps I have taken in my classroom to make this happen.
African toddlers do not meltdown like Western ones. Really?
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.
From the time my kids have been home, they have demonstrated some strange ideas on sleeping. Some orphans have slept on the streets prior to being adopted. Mine had sometimes slept in haystacks near the animals. Some slept in small houses with one room where 25 people would sleep. As a Westernized society, we often forget that many kids LOVE to sleep in odd places.
My daughter Meazi likes moms who are made-up, fashionable and beautiful, who have fine jewelry and nice leather boots. Moms who are not me. But when she wrote down what she was thankful for this Thanksgiving, I could not have been more surprised by her response.
Would she feel irritable about the language barrier, hate the food or complain so relentlessly that I’d fantasize about leaving her stranded on a downtown street corner?
The criticism that the filmmakers of "American Promise" have faced for filming their kids over the course of 13 years misses the point entirely.
Tired of princesses who wear pink and need to be rescued? Here are some ideas to tweak the story!
I am all for piercing our daughter's ears and my husband is totally against it. It's cultural.
I never thought I would struggle to buy clothes for my daughter this young.
It turns out the answer may be cultural.
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.
The gift of a white doll starts this mom on a mission for brown dolls.
Meet Stephan, an adult third culture kid who feels at home everywhere in the world and speaks Mandarin, German, English and Spanish Here is what his parents did right.
Is Italian parenting more about respecting authority and French parenting more about autonomy? This French mom shares her thoughts.
Imagine if an understanding of the innocence of childhood is so deeply embedded into society, it is not even a topic of conversation.
Humans of San Francisco: how this Japanese mom embraced Judaism to give her son a piece of his father
Smarter, larger, better, healthier and more beautiful? A project that debunks stereotypes.
At what age does my darling black son begin to look like a threat to the world?
Is picking up a stranger's child invasive?
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.
How do I explain to my kids the racism that does not come in the form of explicit laws and overt, blatant prejudice?
We have a weird relationship to babies and sleep in the West. In the majority of non-Western societies, babies sleep with their parents--if not in the bed, then in the same room. So do young children. It is only in industrialized Western countries that sleep has become a compartmentalized, private affair.
10 things you may want to consider before sending in that adoption application.
Her barefoot baby ended up giving her a lesson on poverty and privilege.
Kenya is a country of over 40 distinct ethnic groups. This is a blessing and a curse. Here is why my mother gave me an identity different from her own.
More and more weddings in Nairobi are not allowing children.
I heard it over and over again in the U.K.. “They crossed the street and wouldn't speak to me, after he died.” “No one would talk to me about it.” “It was the elephant in the room.” My patients already wracked with grief...
I am always on the lookout for quality, diverse children's movies for family movie nights. I'm not the biggest fan of Disney and although many Pixar movies are wonderfully done, so many of them lack true diversity. I love watching...
5 super fun games from around the world that all kids will enjoy
From chess to mancala, most games are deeply rooted in ancient civilizations, some of them found in excavations of royal tombs. Yet, modern studies endorse and confirm the positive cognitive impact of playing these games even today. It’s amazing that they also give us a sense of the history of a particular culture.
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.
I think I know how you are feeling. Maybe you feel like you aren’t a real woman? Maybe you think you will never ever recover from that last miscarriage you had? Maybe you feel that everyone else and their sister are happily pregnant with their third child.
One of my goals in raising Muslim kids is to give them pride in their identity. It’s hard being a Muslim child these days, as the messages Muslim kids receive from mainstream society about their identity are...
Many of us around the world are experiencing a dystopian reality brought on by the Coronavirus that is forcing us into family quarantine. Kids everywhere are out of school for weeks and many parents are also not...
After my six-year-old’s first brush with racism, I had to act. So 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.
How do we prepare our children for racism? Here is what I learned from other parents, experts and my own life: 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. Here's what I mean.
How to support white children in unlearning racism? It starts with the parents.  I picked my all-time favorite Bob Marley song when I was seven or eight-years-old and I have never changed my...
It’s Hard for White People to Talk about Racism Many white people do not feel comfortable talking about race or racism. When I say race, I am referring -- in its simplest definition...
Several years ago, I interviewed a dozen white parents of white first and second graders, and surveyed a few dozen more, at the school where I teach, about how they approached the topic of race with their children. As...
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 though it may have been an unusual childhood, it was a very happy one.
After the recent killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the rise of the Black Lives Movement has started many overdue conversations about race. One word that has been coming up a lot, is the word anti-racist. But what...
I am being pressured by my Chinese mother-in-law to take a week away from my daughter
And an unforeseen benefit of raising bilingual children is that I feel less exposed when it comes to disciplining Schmoo in public.
I am bringing up my children, Schmoo and Pan-Pan, to speak three languages: English, Twi and French.
A lot of resources on the web talk about the two most successful approaches in multilingual parenting. Both have advantages and both are tailored to pretty specific situations.

Life in the Middle

It's only from a distance of months or years or decades that you can look back and see how one apparently small decision nudged the course of your life in a totally unexpected direction. I don't really know why...
So your kids have a ton of target-language DVDs, books, websites and toys to fast-track their bilingualism, but what about you, the parent? If the target language isn't your native one, you'll be wanting to maintain and improve it any chance you get.

The Expat’s Dilemma

When you live outside your culture, the "easy, joyful, fun" celebrations take on a whole new level of meaning. They become Important. They are no longer a fun way to pass an evening, but part of a culture, part of your culture, that you are determined to pass on and share with your children.
I have recently been thinking about how long I can carry on talking to my children in a language that is not my mother tongue. There are many, many occasions when it is difficult and I'm sure I lose...
Question: why is it important to me that my kids speak more than one language? I have to admit that I never really thought about this. When I married an Algerian woman I must have assumed my children would be...
It all started when my husband first asked me to marry him.
I said, "Under one condition, that we never live in the Midwest."
They say the last holdout of cultural assimilation can be found in the refrigerator, or the kitchen cupboards.
I am fourth generation multicultural. Although there was a lot of inter-marriage, tribe is inherited through one's father so I consider myself Luo despite having a Samia-Luhya mother and Kisii great-grandmother.
This year, I celebrated Christmas in my own place with my wife and three daughters. It was the first time that I did this and I'm 41 years old. Wow. What sounds a little bit weird is actually more due to the way we expats live.
I have three girls and my feeling is that I'd probably like them to be French rather than English.
I am not altogether sold on the idea of school. I was before my daughter was born however like so many other aspects of my life, my world view completely shifted with her arrival.
We are always on the hunt for books in our family to support my childrens' language acquisition. For French books, this is fairly straightforward but not for Twi.
Education. One word, carrying so much baggage. Hope for the future; worries about its quality and quantity. And for families raising bilingual or multilingual children, the language question adds another dimension of difficulty...

Cultural Stereotypes

I have been an expat for almost 13 years or roughly one-third of my life. I grew up in Northern Germany and moved to the South in 1990 so really we're talking about 21 years that I have not lived "at home."
It was an initiation, a rite of passage, to learn how to sit that long (as one got older up to 8 hours) to get your hair braided. It was simply what we did.
I sometimes think that one reason some people resist multiculturalism and resent diversity is that it is simply not easy to live together with other people. It is no fun to compromise. It is challenging to understand and overcome difference.
Growing up in the age of Farrah Fawcett, I knew that one had to be blond in order to be beautiful, by definition. However, once a year, I could be whatever I wanted to be, travel backwards and forwards in history and literature. It was also a chance to pretend to be pretty and show off how smart I could be.
Welcome to the new InCultureParent site blog. This will be the place where we post things that we think are cool--people, places, global kid finds, products, statistics whatever. It's all about cool global stuff. We hope you will...
The debate that is often in the news, about the failed multicultural policies of many European countries, is one that interests me since I lived as an immigrant in Germany.
Not everyone has the same reasons for raising bilingual children. For some, it is necessity, for others a desire.
Our soon-to-be six year old is now taking cheerleading classes once a week after school. Her best friend S does it so we didn't even go into the "why not do some real activity?" discussion.
Last night, I finally had the pleasure of meeting one of ICP’s contributors, Frances Kai-Hwa Wang.
Infants raised in households where Spanish and Catalan are spoken can discriminate between English and French just by watching people speak, even though they have never been exposed to these new languages before.
This article is a fascinating look at why children connect languages to a particular person and why they are so adamant about it. If you have ever tried to switch your usual language with a young child, you will know exactly what I mean.

The Power of Touch

One of the questions I get asked most frequently is, why was it so important to me for my daughter to be born and spend the early part of her life in Kenya?
Bilingual children are more effective at multi-tasking.
Bilinguals see the world differently because of the inextricable link between language, culture and cognition (no surprise).
One of my greatest fears as a new parent, right after Matthew's birth, was about putting him in school in France. While I hadn't done much research on the system, its results surrounded me: a culture where it's a bad idea to accept responsibility for one's mistakes, where apologizing is seen as a sign of weakness...
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.”
This article is to provide practical tips for parents who wish to co-sleep or are already co-sleeping and would like further support for their decision.
The part of the brain which controls language development develops faster in girls than in boys.
How can I hope to teach my kids German if I am losing it myself?
Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that we each have a child who looks nothing like us.
Check out ten essential travel toys for the natural, electronics-free approach!
The best 10 things about going bilingual with your children.
I've long been resigned (though secretly thrilled) that my six-year-old daughter corrects my French, but I didn't expect my three-year-old son to start just yet.
Thanks to everyone who entered our A Lion's Mane giveaway, the multicultural and eco-friendly book for kids about the Sikh turban.

I am still thinking about language forgetting.
The issue at hand is that my daughters do not hear enough German to be able to develop a strong foundation, right?

My mother-in-law, like many Middle Eastern mothers-in-law, is part human, part force of nature. Like a tsunami, only less subtle.
Here's the infrequently talked about ten things you must know if you are traveling, particularly internationally, with your kids.
"Multilingual schizophrenia." I don't know whether there is an official term for it, so this is my term. I feel slightly different depending on what language I speak, almost as if my personality changes a little bit when I switch languages.<
I hate having to make my daughter say please and thank you. There, I have said it—does that make me a bad mother? I am also well aware that she will be judged on how she presents herself in public.
A hot topic for parents trying to raise balanced bilinguals is which language do you teach first, the minority one or the community language? Or maybe both at once?
Love to party? Ways to involve your kids and take them along.
Kenyan social customs and their importance for even young children.
Lebanon is like that really smart, talented, good-looking friend who is slowly sliding into alcoholism, or sinking into depression or an abusive relationship.
A common expat moment: my colleague said something supposedly German and we had no clue what he was trying to say, no matter how hard he tried.
The pros and cons of life as an expat.
I’ve made an interesting bilingual discovery with my own children that was confirmed by an expert in child bilingualism.
Celebrating Japanese culture with the obon dance—just follow the old aunties
The hardest thing for me about our unique little family is our unique extended family situation. One side of the family is in the U.S., the other side of the family in Lebanon, and we, like shipwrecked sailors, somewhere in the middle, impossibly far from both
I recently had the opportunity to go to a two-week filmmaking workshop. It meant that for the first time in my daughter’s life (she’s four and a quarter) I was going to be away from her from 9 a.m to 5 p.m.
Why many multicultural families approach seemingly simple topics like sleepovers from very different angles.
At almost 19 months old, Ramzi is just starting to really get talking. Matt was also an early talker and it’s been really interesting to watch the differences and similarities in how the two acquire and use their three languages.
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!”
A while back someone asked me where I am from. I explained that I am half French and half American to which they responded, “Oh, so you’re Canadian!” If only it were so easy.
Lately, both of my girls have taken to calling my youngest, Lila, “Lilita.” Although they do not attend a bilingual Spanish preschool, two of the three teachers are native Spanish speakers.
When we decided to move to Singapore about 18 months ago, people’s reactions fell into roughly three categories:
A number of years ago I read an article that interviewed adults who had been interculturally and interracially adopted in the 1970s. Though all of the people interviewed appeared to be happy with their adoptive families, they all expressed a sense of loss.
In a land of teenage pregnancies and questionable style trends, this German dad wonders how he will raise English daughters.
Being a German myself, I feel I'm entitled to say this: Germans are rude.
I never knew I would enjoy the humor and light breezy spirit of teenagers so much. When the kids were little, I was so afraid of what these teenage years would bring.
A few days ago, a toddler was struck by two vehicles on a road in China and eventually died because no one stopped to help. My initial reaction? Total shock followed by immediate outrage coupled with an attitude of “this would never happen where I come from.” I was really surprised to find that I had experienced a full 180-degree shift.
This weekend we had a taste of all sorts of fall festivities and also celebrated Day of the Dead for the first time, at a joint pumpkin carving/Day of the Dead celebration play date.
He asked where my accent came from, since he guessed I was not English. With my fair skin, straightened hair and generally Caucasian features, he thought I was of French descent. I explained that I was 100%....
Francois Grosjean broke my heart with an article he wrote recently, Helen or Hélène. The actual quote that touched me is "few language users are poets."
Since I read primarily books by Asian-American women writers to supplement my very traditional dead white guy literary education, my children do not have to wait until college to discover women writers and writers of color in a women's studies class.
While traveling with kids definitely involves more preparation and requires more stuff, it doesn’t have to be a burden. I try to limit the amount of stuff needed to the basics.
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.
When it comes to raising a bilingual child, I have several beliefs about how you can waste your time.
I remember being pregnant and hearing the refrain, “I don’t care what gender my child is as long as s/he is healthy.” I did not join in. There was every chance that my child would suffer the same chronic illness that I do, so we make the best of what life gave us, whatever the challenges.
This past week, we have had our new Arabic-speaking babysitter everyday for a total of 12 hours all week. From day one, she had told me the girls understand her 100%, which we know already, it is just their speaking Arabic that has been problematic.
There are many jokes about African timekeeping. On one level it is true—the continent is full of buses that run behind and meetings that start late.
The burden of responsibility when you are the only one responsible for passing on holiday traditions
Relocation and a new language: why some people chose not to give the “gift” of multilingualism.
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?"
Through use of technology it is fairly easy for us to expose our children to all kinds of languages and cultures. Need proof?
I never cared much about Valentine's Day until my oldest daughter was two.
For an expat family (or for this expat family, anyway) putting down roots somewhere can be difficult. The possibility of moving on is always present.
I am probably spoiled, being brought up bilingual and exposed to many languages and cultures. Perhaps I just haven't been adventurous enough in my travels, but I don't ever recall finding myself in a situation where I could neither derive any inkling of meaning from the exchange nor express in any terms or gesticulations what I needed to say—that is until now.
The importance of understanding history and politics in raising multicultural kids.
I recently participated in a talk on raising bilingual kids over at The Motherhood, with many great co-hosts.
Our lifestyle and the chemistry of our family is a hodge podge, a unique entity only we can understand. Our small group of six exists in a way that is not one or the other—neither European, Balkan, Sudanese, African, Arab nor American. A blend of all the things that are the best in us and from our experiences, our backgrounds patiently collected like pebble gems along the way. This variety of influences reflects itself in our children.
What I discovered on my search for amazing bilingual writers
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 tend to be a bit anti-technology when it comes to my kids, who are three and five. However, the iPad and its language learning apps may be changing my mind.
These chocolates are far cooler than your usual box of chocolates. They are multicultural Pucca chocolates from Korea!
Differences in ways of life in Germany and the U.K. and the learning curve as an expat
When it comes to McDonalds or Asian street food, my kid picks Singaporean chicken rice every time.
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.
My children don't identify themselves as American at all. And apparently Americans aren't allowed to cook couscous either.
Lessons in parenting from the Côte d'Azur
The circumcision “ban” that happened in Germany this past week has stirred up a lot of bad feelings and accusations. However, the word ban is simply not accurate.
The story of Diane Tran, the Texan honors student jailed for missing school when she was working full-time to support two siblings without parents, luckily has a happy ending. But I am bothered by all those of color like her whose stories don't get the same attention.
"As much as I tried, I could not motivate my sons to sit down and write the alphabet or focus strongly on Serbo-Croat like my girls. My older daughter, in particular, sought out books and worked with my mom every summer on her Croatian. In college, she studied Spanish and can communicate fairly well. The youngest gets her lessons in Croatian from her grandma through visits to the Croatian piazza or while gardening, observing nature, watching Croatian TV channels, shopping and while sharing endless concoctions of delicious Croatian gelato on summer vacations."   In a trilingual home with three alphabets, our blogger Zvezdana has raised four children, two bilingual and two trilingual.
10 of the best world maps for kids' rooms because every little global citizen needs a map.

What Real Men Do

They play beauty salon and wear barrettes with their daughters.

Eid Mubarak

Eid Mubarak
We are very excited to announce a new partnership with the East Bay Children’s Book Project in Oakland, to donate the multicultural books we receive to review.
How one American, one Russian and two Germans messed up big time at an Armenian wedding.
What the ability to delay gratification in childhood says about future success
What is the tipping point of language exposure input that shifts the balance from passive to active, from understanding to speaking?
For the last four years our family has been going through a well-rehearsed but unpleasant ritual on a regular basis: the leaving of college-age children. When my oldest son, the first to leave, moved just an hour drive away, I thought the world had come to an end.
One month ago, we embarked on our official trilingual family journey, introducing over four hours of Spanish daily to our children. But more Spanish goes together with less Arabic and I can't help but wonder, is Spanish coming at the expense of Arabic?
A video on my kid's progress in Spanish after six weeks of immersion.
Dancing at the obon festival where my children love dressing up in kimono and yukata and dancing around the yagura tower with the community, eating delicious food.
Sometimes friends tease me for being so naïve and idealistic. But with the elections upon us, I am there once again. I cannot help it. As the child of immigrants, I was raised valuing freedom and democracy, knowing how lucky we all are to be here, knowing how fragile that luck can be.
I’ll never forget, standing on my tippy-toes, chin resting on the white tile counter, while my mother measured out the ingredients into the deep bottom green Pyrex salad bowl, explaining to me the critical ratio of red wine vinegar to vegetable oil. Yes, our use of vegetable oil dates me to being raised during the PO or pre-olive oil era. The vinaigrette, which in our family consists of dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, salt, oil and shallots, is the first ‘dish’ I ever prepared.
I was sitting on a train from Paris CDG airport into Paris. I was singing a silly song in my head ("et les meufs et les keufs dans le RER") and started thinking about cultural knowledge and blending in. Listening to the chatter around me, I suddenly realised that as French as I sometimes like to think I can be, there is a massive part of French culture that I can not blend into at all: business.
Here is a small glimpse of multiculturalism at work in my daughter’s kindergarten class in Berkeley, California where I volunteered for a few hours last week.
This year P has been adamant that she is asking Santa for Barbies. This makes sense, as nearly all her friends have them and there’s nothing like peers to create a need where one didn’t previously exist. I vowed I wouldn’t cave in to things I really disapprove of but I do have a number of good memories playing with my Barbies.
Jasmin only just turned six but suddenly has the ability to do entire craft projects on her, from conceptualization to set up and actualization. Tonight she decided to just "make a pinata" after dinner. First, she assembled her materials: balloons, newspaper, a bowl, glue and water. She cut strips of newspaper, added the glue to the water and then started pasting the strips on the blown-up balloon.
In our family these days, we have developed a new obsession with Burmese food.
Have our lives become too segmented? Shouldn't everything be child friendly?
How bilingual four years olds think about language.
My six year old takes celebrating the Lunar New Year into her own hands
Most studies I have read tend to focus on childcare, who is the next-best person to look after the child(ren) in question, how long the mother should be at home with the child before starting work and so on. These are of course all important factors but I think that they forget one critical factor—in Africa at least, women have always worked while having children. The two were intertwined.
A very cool map template that you can download, assemble and color yourself.
It's African History Month. Here's a song about Martin Luther King, courtesy of my four-year-old
A gorgeous paper globe for both kids and adults
I was sure not to fail on helping my kids make (or let’s be real—making for my kids while they kind of help) cute Valentine’s this year. But alas I did. Then I came up with this super last minute but sweet idea.
A French store where you can make your own strands of lights or purchase larger globes
A six-year-old friendly account of an important U.S. historical figure
Growing up with lesbian parents, I wished my classmates parents had talked to them about homosexuality. Here are eight reasons why it is important to talk to your kids about homosexuality. If you do not, someone else will. So beat them to it.
My first attempt ever at a bento style lunch to spruce up my kids lunch box.
Every year, it was the same routine. Early November, my mother would start thinking aloud, “What do Americans eat for Thanksgiving?” then take my brother and me on a special trip to the grocery store to buy the turkey. That is what they eat on Thanksgiving. However, since there were only four of us and since my mother did know how to roast a turkey, she would forego the whole bird for a frozen loaf of turkey meat in an aluminum tray. Then she would pick out a package of gravy mix and a box of instant mashed potatoes.
All over the world, women trade parenting. In Hong Kong, babies are raised by Indonesians, in Australia they’re Filipinos. It made me think about the amount of trust entailed in letting someone care for your’s fascinating that people give that responsibility to those they consider so different from themselves.
I nearly scared my children to death with the pronouncement, "Now that weire Buddhist, maybe we shouldn't celebrate Christmas anymore."
I have come to believe that there is no "right" parenting even if many experts offer conflicting theories stating as much.
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.
I understand the challenge of bringing holidays into an understandable form for children. On top of that, there is definitely a smaller selection for Chanukah than what's offered for Christmas. We may be Chosen but we can't be choosy.
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.
Do you raise our children for the society we hope one day exists or with the skills to fit into our current one? Where is the balance struck?
The parenting world can be sorted into two factions: intentional vs. default parenting. Default parenting is something no one can likely wholesale avoid. It is the kid in the car seat while I cook dinner parenting, the turn on the TV and give them apple juice to shut them up parenting. It is a necessary evil produced by a society that devalues intimacy, presence and the prioritization of family life.
Because I went to Catholic Schools, I had no idea that there was more to Easter than Easter Mass.
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.
In L.A., the mothers who reply to the ads posted on message boards ask how much housecleaning you are willing to do in addition to watching their kids. I read an article explaining that with the downturn in the economy folks are trying to streamline their household staff and I see it proves true. Part of their decision on who to hire to help raise their kids is based on the prospect’s experience with heavy cleaning.
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.
The primary American parenting goal is independence, as opposed to say cooperation or social integration, and it matches our society’s emphasis on individual achievement and self-reliance. It is a strategy that extends across class lines, religion and education level.
Why the breastfeeding debate remains downright radical after all this time
I noticed a beautiful, tall, lean Chinese woman on the other side of the lobby She was stunning. It wasn’t until she turned and glanced over at the group of us that I saw his goatee...I distinctly remember wondering if he was gay and liking the thought of that. I felt a connection with him. Maybe we were both two queers floating in a straight sea?
Is raising global kids important? No. It's a necessity.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving is the day we 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. I call it the post-holiday debriefing (and I recommend this in my Multicultural Toolbox workshops as one strategy for combating racism and intolerance in the extended family).
With unflinching bravery, Joya has stood up for women's rights in Afghanistan and spoken about the state of affairs of her country, overrun by warlords and corruption. She is quite possibly one of the most courageous women alive.
It hadn’t taken me long upon arrival in Germany from Armenia to figure out that Germans didn’t do small talk.
Why raising global kids is so important and the one quote everyone should keep in mind.
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.” However, after working in ethnic new media for 10 years and watching American sentiment about immigrants and minorities deteriorate, especially after 9/11, I was not so sure if it really was true that my multiracial, Asian American child could become president someday.
It is an argument used by parents of picky eaters the world over: think of the starving children in Africa. But in Kenya where those starving children can be found on your doorstep, such admonishment applies to nearly anyone with a self-imposed dietary restriction. When I tell people that I am a vegetarian they assume it must be for medical reasons. Why else would an African woman who can afford to eat meat blankly refuse what so many of her compatriots don’t have the luxury to turn down?
Even though Arabic is one of the languages they were raised in since birth, they prefer Spanish. Here is why.
This fascinating Australian couple are traveling the world for already six years on motorcycles, living on $10,000 per year.
Photo overlooking the beach shot from the castle of Tulum.
Six years into OPOL parenting, and here is what I have learned about raising bilingual kids in the OPOL method.
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.
Jail is an interesting place to observe parenting in practice and illuminates what it is that babies really need.
Why this nanny feels strongly a car-free approach to childrearing is best.
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.

Toddler Food Wars

Is healthy eating and making your toddler eat kale akin to buying the thousand dollar stroller? How having a diverse diet has become a virtue.
Money can’t buy love or can it? We hire strangers to love our kids because we have more important things to do. But the love and care gifted to our kin is being “extracted” from people on the other side of the world who might otherwise receive it. While love is not a finite resource, face time certainly is and we therefore rob the developing world of “care” to feed our own needs.
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.
America is no more dangerous than it was in the fifties or seventies when parents let their children run wild through the neighborhood. So why has parenting culture become so restrictive and paranoid? One thing I’ve noticed is that the age at which we parent makes a difference.
The culture of unusual baby naming in the age of individualism.
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 admire traditional attire from many ethnic backgrounds. The Indian sari, the Sudanese tobe, and the Arabic abaya are some of them. Occasionally I wear the Abaya, during Ramadan for family gatherings as well as the complicated tobe, since I am married into the culture. It’s feminine and girlish fun, reminding me of dress-up games as a young girl.
My daughter's letter to the tooth fairy, includes asking for a "gun" for her sister.
I’m on the verge of traveling from San Francisco, where I reside with my family, to Ecuador where I grew up. Though I have most of my family there and have maintained contact with a lot of childhood friends, every time I am there, I have that feeling of not belonging anywhere anymore—you know how when you grow up in one place but live in another for many years, you stop belonging to a specific place and are never fully at home in either place. I guess you become, as people say, a citizen of the world, whatever that means.
I was in the middle of a dance floor at a glamorous wedding at a hacienda outside of Puebla, Mexico. The father of the bride approached to make sure I took something back to the U.S. with me. "This is the real Mexico. Not what you hear on the TV and in the papers.”
My husband is Chinese and our journey as a couple has been full of bumps and triumphs, hence the blog title, "China Bumps and Triumphs." When we met and fell in love—a process that was frightfully fast but thrilling—my Chinese was very rudimentary and his English was virtually non-existent. Now our daughter is 17 months.
I had no idea what language my daughter was singing in until she told me it was Korean. Is this really Korean?
I just moved to a new town a few hours away from the U.S. border in the blazing-hot Mexican desert. This will be my new home, the place where I will settle down and hopefully have kids. In this blog I will relate to you my story of living in this dusty, little male-led corner of the world, as I maneuver through set gender roles, women in my new family that have never left this town, curious people that are watching what I do at all times, and a lovely mother-in-law that calls me five times a day when she isn't dropping by.
One unexpected benefit of bilingualism is when I speak English to my daughter in China, people think I don't speak Mandarin and talk very, very freely about all sorts of things about us. Here's what I recently overheard!
How you spend your days is how you spend your life. So simple yet says so much.
I have previously written about how I would rather my daughter only say thank you and please from the heart, rather than because of societal enforced politeness. Well, I lost that battle and I have to admit that I am rather pleased I did.
Craft a fun cover together with your kids and let it be their summer journal to record whatever their heart desires.
Love this very cool map for a child's room!
Here’s a list of 10 amazing words that you can’t find in English; perhaps once you’ve studied these you’ll be as enthusiastic as I am about learning a new language.
My own child nearly drowned even though I was literally standing right beside her in the water. When children drown, they don’t splash or flail, they go under so silently and wordlessly, you don’t even know it’s happening. That’s what makes it so scary.
In Ecuador, because families live in the same cities as their relatives and because of the mentality, kids are brought up interacting with people of all ages. They are used to being active participants in everyone´s conversations and activities. Everyone sits at the adult table.
As I relive the city of Quito of my childhood with my kids, so much has changed. There are many more possibilities for families to experience the city. Here's a bunch of things to do in Quito with kids.
I swore I would never be a housewife but I decided to follow my heart. This is where it led me.
From my kids talking to Jose Luis Orozco in Spanish this past weekend to finding joy in someplace unexpected, I realized all my work in in helping them develop their Spanish is really starting to pay off.
On my first visit to Morocco, I was introduced to my husband's family as his fiancée, even though we were just dating (since dating isn't a concept that Arab society openly accepts). Although I had traveled widely and had spent time in Muslim countries before, I was very, very nervous for this trip since I was the first woman my boyfriend was introducing to his family.
Most people think it's weird I am raising Muslim kids when I am not Muslim myself. To me it makes perfect sense.
As an Algerian, I grew up within a complex social code where, similar to England, what you say and what you mean do not always go hand in hand. When my German husband and I first started dating, I shed many tears on my seemingly one-way attachment. How could he care for me if he wanted "to be alone on Sunday afternoon" or "was fine with me staying or leaving?
One thing that constantly puzzled me was how docile Brits were. Until I discovered they weren't in fact docile at all.
Stereotypes run rampant in much of our media consumption and children’s cartoons are no exception. We wanted to find more cartoons that feature kids of different races and ethnicities across cultural backgrounds. Here's our list.
My dad’s father killed himself when my dad was a child. My dad has fought with depression all his life. I usually forget about this until my son asks me questions like, “Why is it that I cannot switch my mind off?"
Three secrets why Kenya, like many African countries, is seamlessly multilingual.
Was this non-interfering style of parenting in Japan I witnessed an anomaly or the norm? Do the Japanese discipline their kids?
A multilingual mom shares her tips for embarking on a new language with your child.
My daughter reading a local Nicaraguan newspaper along with me this morning, something that would likely never happen at home.
Why the number 4 is bad luck, spiders are good and mirrors in the bedroom bad.
You don't have to wait until Earth Day to think about how we consume the Earth's resources.
Despite being a family that opposes war, we wanted to teach the kids that holidays are not just for shopping, but for reflecting on historical events as well as those who have died for their country.
Modern parenting places too many expectation on us all that we believe define how involved or committed we are as parents. We couldn't be more wrong.
Kids see no divisions. Adults have much to learn from them.
Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”
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?
They met in Montenegro and are raising bilingual kids in Serbian and German.
This fascinating family incorporates Brazilian, Japanese, Cantonese and Thai cultures into one.
This Romanian-Brazilian couple met and had kids in California where they are raising their trilingual (and briefly quadrilingual) girls.
This interesting family speaks Dutch, Spanish, English and have a little girl who also speaks Russian.
They met online on different sides of the world in this modern day romance and she moved from Shanghai to Canada for love.
This Norwegian-Iranian couple met in Iran, and lived in Tajikistan and Egypt before settling in Norway. They are raising their daughter in English, Norwegian and some Farsi.
This Lebanese-Mexican couple met in college and are now raising a trilingual daughter in suburban USA.
This American mother and Ghanaian father are raising their multilingual son with Twi, Ga, Larteh and English in Ghana.
This interracial French-American family are raising trilingual (German-French-English) kids in the South of France and may introduce Amharic as well. So how do Amharic and German fit into all that?
This multicultural family met in China and are raising perfectly trilingual kids in Chinese, English and Spanish in California.
Despite a pediatrician who told this Israeli/Guatemalan/American family that speaking more than one language would be detrimental to their children’s mathematical abilities, they have successfully raised two quadrilingual kids.
This American family incorporates two distinct cultures that are not their own and they all are learning Korean.
She’s Algerian, he’s German and they make us all jealous raising perfectly quadrilingual kids.
How this Mom has raised a true global citizen in every sense.
Met Lizi (British) and Da Jun (Chinese) raising a bilingual son in Beijing and soon Britain.
She's Polish, he's German and they are raising kids in Holland.
She is American, he is Mexican, and they have four kids from three different countries.
Meet Elka and Thien, a family living in Vietnam, sharing four cultures and three languages including Vietnamese, English and French.
Meet our newest real intercultural family whose children speak Russian, Spanish, English, and share four cultures and two religions.
They are raising perfectly trilingual kids in Mandarin, Spanish and English. See how they do it.
This Dutch mom is raising a quadrilingual daughter (Dutch, dialect of Dutch, Italian and English) in Italy. See how she does it.
See how the Mayan ruins brought together this trilingual family 12 years ago.
Meet Sara and Waqar raising trilingual kids in Urdu, Italian and English in London!
It all started in a history class in Utah. Four kids and three languages later, read about their unique system for keeping all three languages in tact.
Meet Javier and Cordelia—a French-American-Mexican couple who are raising kids in Asia after a romance that spanned London and New York City.
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.
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 would 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.
Finding Aster

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.
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.
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. What then for the child we adopted from Africa? How many in-betweens does she represent?
You already know what not to ask about adoption, so what are the right things to say?
I spend a lot of time thinking about everything my children have lost. The list is long. Sometimes, however, something beautiful takes place, like it did on this sunny August day on the lake.
People who see us out together call us the United Nations family. We are stopped constantly by people who ask, “Are these all yours?”
There is a lot of debate over whether international adoption is “right” or “wrong,” I have become increasingly frustrated with the way in which the very complex issue of international adoption has been reduced to an overly simplistic question of right vs. wrong. One result of this over-simplification is the children who need help have become the victims of international adoption policies.
One couple's adoption journey as a mixed race, multicultural family.
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.
Growing up, my sisters and I learned Dutch before English...My immigrant parents and I often found a gulf separated us from fully understanding each other. Food became part of a bridge we built in my adult years.
Recently Jin's imagination gave me my first taste of the nuances of parenting an adopted child.
With four cultures represented in their home, this family decided on the American tooth fairy.
Adopted from Ethiopia, Ella had lost both her parents and had trouble bonding with her new family. No one suspected that a simple cup of tea would bring back so many memories and forge new connections.
As an adoptive mother, I know that being adopted is an essential component of my child’s identity. But with only room enough for a pithy caption beneath the photos, these magazines hardly seem concerned with accurately capturing the essence of a person's identity.
When it came time to enroll my son Melese in school, I found a diverse, Reggio-based preschool within walking distance of our house. I explained to the director that my son had a tough history, rife with loss and upheaval. She assured me that they would follow my lead as I began the process of gently sanding off my barnacle. It did not go smoothly.
The international adoption process is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. With our dossier (legal documents and official application) submitted, approved, signed, sealed and delivered to Bulgaria, there is nothing to do but wait. And it's not easy.
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.”
A culinary tour of traditional Bulgarian foods to celebrate our upcoming adoption from Bulgaria.
Pregnancy and beauty around the world in pictures, stories and statistics.
Why it takes more than one father to make babies in the Amazon
InCultureParent takes a look at the beauty of breastfeeding in pictures, together with facts and attitudes.
Adorable slideshow of fathers and their kids around the world.
The 2010 Mothers' Index rates 160 countries (43 developed nations and 117 in the developing world) in terms of the well-being of mothers and children. If you're a mother in Europe or Australia, don't plan on moving.
Reading fosters children's imaginations, grows their vocabulary, primes them for academic achievement and supports numerous brain-related functions like speech, logic and concentration. Reading is also an accessible and powerful way to connect children to the world, not just the world they know but the undiscovered and unknown. In this slideshow, we celebrate reading with children around the world.
What treat do children have in common in every country around the world? Ice cream! Ice cream! InCultureParent takes you around the world in ice cream from cart to mouth.
Play is one of those magical activities that connects us as human beings. Children have an innate sense of play through which they discover the world and their place in it. InCultureParent takes you from Chile to Indonesia and beyond to celebrate kids playing around the world.
A tribute for all of you mamas, mamis, muttis, ammas, mums, ummis, maes, aais, hahas, mommys and more from Japan to Uzbekistan and Paraguay and beyond.
Not much is cuter than kids and their dogs. The love between children and dogs knows no boundaries as dogs make the most faithful and simplest of friends. From around the world, InCultureParent has selected some of the most...
Nothing says summertime like splashing in the water to cool down in the summer heat. Let's take a peek at kids globally having some summer water fun.
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.” In our continuing “Kids Around the World” series where we show what unites us globally, here are kids around the world laughing.
A World Geography Lesson for Kids through the Summer Olympics
What happens when you put a couple of kids who speak very little Chichewa into a group of kids that speak about the same amount of English? See how they play.
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.
For the many families who practice faiths other than Christianity, Christmas can be the source of as much angst as joy. Each year we must grapple with questions such as: How do we explain to our little ones why Santa doesn't come to our house? Is it wrong to string up some lights or put up a tree even if Christmas isn't really our holiday? More fundamentally, how do we teach our children to respect this special time without confusing them about their own religious identity?
Three mindful steps we can take to ensure that our children will turn toward us not away from us during these turbulent years.
Growing up in India, Diwali 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. But in the U.S., it's all very different.
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.
I wondered if I had wasted my time taking my 14-year-old on a Baha'i retreat. Then she surprised me on the last day.
A Buddhist approach to dealing with the tough teenage years
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.
Though I've listened to Czech girlfriends cite instances where they felt Czech men (even their own fathers, uncles and brothers) took the tradition out of hand, I always assumed that if a woman said she didn't want to be whipped her wishes would be respected. I was wrong.
Blonde, blue-eyed, and with the exceedingly fair skin of her Swiss-German ancestors, my daughter blended well into the sea of faces in her first grade classroom. But the truth was then and is now that she feels more at home with the one Iranian Muslim family in town, which shares with us one of our major holidays—Naw Ruz—as well as the practices of fasting and daily obligatory prayer.
I belong to a faith with virtually no rituals, and holidays almost no one around me has heard of. As a Baha’i, we avoid rituals but we do worship God, have sacred writings and prayers, a rich history, a worldwide community, laws (like getting the consent of living parents before marriage), and guidelines for daily living.
In the Pashtun culture, we celebrate the 40th day after childbirth by the mother officially bathing, praying and giving money to charity. I followed tradition, with the knowledge that while this was a celebratory time for most mothers, I was grieving my empty womb. On my prayer mat, I cried throughout my prayer.
In Chinese culture, the moon month, also translated as “sitting out the month,” “lying in” or “confinement in childbirth,” is a month-long sojourn in the home for postpartum women. Sounds great, right? Well, part of this tradition requires that women not...
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. This was my choice, of course, but I felt it was dictated by expectations of our family and household. "Multiculturalism" is good, "devil" is bad.
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 Any Chua had to say. Like Amy Chua,my parent’s held an unfailing belief that I would succeed.
My Indian heritage has defined who I have been for most of my life, that is, until I became a mother. The business of raising children makes nearly everything else fall to the back burner.The identities of “mother” and “wife” took precedence over that of “tribal member.”
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?”
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 am sure 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. My wife was completely floored when I proposed.
The first major difficulty in my multicultural marriage was over circumcision. The Turkish custom of circumcision was the first custom I downright refused to go along with.
When did my son begin to find his heritage? Not an easy thing for non-Native parents, despite my research and graduate degree in educational experiences of First Nations’ women artists. He knows that there was a man who fathered him for a year and then left. This he should know is not part of the Native American culture, nor part of a tradition, but just a bad call by a young man who couldn’t be a father to him for more than that.
When your child comes out to you, it may come as a big surprise, no matter how gay friendly your family is. Make sure you’re prepared for the moment and are able to best support your child as we live in a word where gayness is seen as a flaw rather than another facet of who a child is. Here are 7 tips to make sure you don't blow the moment.
As parents of a curious toddler, my husband and I are always looking for fun, active things that we can do as a family. Family yoga has become a natural fit. It’s healthy for our minds and bodies. We can do it anywhere and use our imaginations. And we can each participate at our own levels.
Mother’s Day came and went this year without as much as a “Happy Mother’s Day” from my husband. I have to admit that my experience of special occasions in China is quite often disappointing and I wonder if it’s just a Chinese cultural thing. But I am Canadian. I have Canadian needs. Even though I live in a Chinese culture, I can’t erase my culture, nor would I want to. In Canada, Mother’s Day is a time for special treatment. So here's how I fixed it.
I didn't grow up in a very happy household. My parents saw the world as a menacing place, full of people out to screw you. For years I didn't understand that happiness is something you create and are uniquely responsible for. I thought that was one of those bullshit concepts only highly evolved spiritual people or fake happy people really thought.
Why do presents when you can donate your child’s birthday to so many great causes
We realized explaining a divided Berlin to our children was going to be a lot more complicated than telling them it used to separate the good guys from the bad guys, as our own upbringings as parents had everything to do with our view of history.
All too often what might be misinterpreted as a superiority complex over another culture by someone who fits my description is actually something else worth discussing: a cultural defense mechanism. Do we as English-speaking WASPs have a right to defend our culture, one that is so globally pervasive in both media and entertainment? I am about to argue that we do.
Illness in a foreign country can be scary but it taught this mom a different meaning of family.
The melodic foreign names (Surya Bonaly, for example), the vibrant flags, the robust strains of the medalists’ national anthems and the inspiring, personal stories of athletes’ struggles and victories provide windows to different parts of the world.

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