Five Easy Tips for Raising Multicultural Kids
If you’re like me, you’re juggling kids, a household, and a job.
You don’t need yet another list of things you need to do.
But hear me out!
Here are 5 tips for raising multicultural kids that are really easy to do... that I’ve personally tried and tested.
But first, let’s cover the basics.
WHAT IS A MULTICULTURAL KID?
At Campfire Crates we see multicultural kids as:
1. A child whose parents are from a different country to where they are growing up.
Example: Mom and Dad are from Korea raising kids in the UK
2. A child whose parents are from different cultural backgrounds.
Example: Mom is from Indonesia, Dad is from China
3. A child who wants to learn more about the world.
Example: Inclusive, well-rounded, accepting, worldly kids!
MY MULTICULTURAL FAMILY
My own multicultural family falls under category 2 (a child whose parents are from different cultural backgrounds) with category 1 (a child whose parents are from a different country to where they are bringing up their kids) thrown in for good measure.
I am Filipino and my husband is American, and we are raising our kids (4 & 2) in Hong Kong. A place we’ve called home for the last 7 years.
We are lucky we live in a very diverse city. Most of our friends and our kids’ friends are also multicultural but we are also keenly aware of the challenges that our kids will face growing up.
So it is important for us to make sure we are proactive in their cultural exposure.
First on our list is making sure we are exposing them to local culture, and with that, comes teaching them the local languages - Cantonese and Mandarin, as well as celebrating and understanding local customs.
Next, was making sure they stay connected with their Filipino roots. This was going to be a tough one.
We are not too worried about their American side, Paw Patrol does a very good job with that already!
WHY IS MULTICULTURAL PARENTING DIFFERENT?
Multicultural parenting brings up new questions into the equation of parenting:
- How and when do we introduce their multiple heritages?
- Should they learn their native language?
- Which holidays do we celebrate?
- Whose cultural rituals and customs do we follow?
- How will society at large treat them?
And most fundamentally, we need to prepare our children to answer the inevitable question: what are you?
And the question they will ask themselves: Do I belong?
This is especially important for immigrant parents like us because we don’t really know what they are experiencing or will be experiencing when they are older (as compared to first or second-generation immigrant parents).
So multicultural parenting is important because:
Multicultural parenting is helping our kids build their cultural identities.
And one of the key ways to do that is to make sure they learn and stay connected to their cultural roots, and at the same time, respecting the cultural context they are growing up in.
Our role is to help them navigate the multiple cultural contexts that make up who they are.
IS MULTICULTURAL PARENTING FOR YOU?
Teaching multicultural kids is proactive and deliberate. We don’t have the luxury of them being exposed to their heritage cultures naturally through their every day.
But it doesn’t have to be hard AND it doesn’t have to be stressful.
This is not an emergency, don’t add more pressure to yourselves. Being a parent in 2020 is hard enough.
But if you want to help spark your kid’s curiosity in themselves and the world around them,
Here are 5 tips for raising multicultural kids that are really easy to do.
FIVE EASY TIPS FOR RAISING MULTICULTURAL KIDS
1. Give them easy ways to engage with culture
The easiest way to get the kids to engage with the culture you want to expose them to is to make it easily accessible. Having books about the culture and in that language, speaking to relatives, and eating food from that cuisine are all easy entry points.
In our home, we have a library of Filipino books, books about Chinese culture, and we do weekly calls with family from home.
We also have a fun little calendar that you can take inspiration from on how to easily integrate cultural activities throughout the week.
Check it out below. if you like it, click on the link and we'll send you a free copy!
Click here and we’ll send you a copy!
2. Relate it to what they know and enjoy. Lean into what they are interested in.
My four-year-old is into Lego and race cars.
I was having a tough time getting him to practice his Mandarin and his teacher advised, lean into what he enjoys. So, when we were putting his lego race car together, I was asking him to find the lego pieces by saying the color words in Mandarin and having him repeat it back to me.
Now, FULL DISCLOSURE, I don’t speak Mandarin, so the pronunciation was probably all over the place but at least we got some language practice done!
So remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect!
3. Learning through movement and the senses
Children learn best through experience.
By bringing their cultural learning to life through something active and makes use of their senses can be a really fun and engaging way to get them to try new things.
The Pinterest Version
One fun thing we did for Dragon Boat Festival was to learn how to make a Xiang Bao. We got some spices from the pantry (cinnamon and star anise), added an orange rind, gave them a good sniff, and sewed them into our Xiang Bao.
An easy way to approach this is to see the activities in terms of the senses and explore it in that way. For the Xiang Bao activity we focused on smell and touch. The four-year-old had fun cutting the felt paper and playing with the spices.
The sewing bit, not too much.
Now, I can hear you, busy momma, screaming inside your head “who has time to make these crafts?!”. You’re right. It takes time to have to prepare them. Which is why I choose very simple activities that have shortcuts.
No felt paper? Any kind of paper or cloth will do. No time to sew? Use a stapler!
Kids aren’t interested in the Pinterest worthy final product, they just want to spend some time with you.
4. Celebrate what you love about your culture
I am obsessed with Filipino food. I’ve tried a lot of cuisines and dishes but I stand by my final meal being tuyo (dried salted fish or as my husband calls it, stinky fish), rice, tomatoes, and kesong puti (water buffalo cheese wrapped in banana leaf).
So I make it a point that the kids are exposed to this. And thankfully, they seem to have developed a taste for it!
Another big win, for me, was catching my 2-year-old reading this Kakanin book to himself and naming all the kakanin (sticky rice snacks) correctly. We didn’t do anything special. We just had the book around and read it to him a lot.
His favorite snack also happens to be suman (a type of sticky rice snack wrapped in banana leaf) which we are lucky enough to get from the Filipino store.
5. Do what works for your family. And most importantly: BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Remember: kids will not learn overnight. We are in this for the long haul.
So, do be kind to yourself, you don’t have to do it all day, all the time.
Sometimes, just being a model for your kids by putting importance in your own culture is good enough. Speak the language when you can, put reminders around the house, choose books/ movies/ media that represent the culture.
We parents are our child’s primary education so really, all you have to do is be your true self!
So yes, I am not going to lie to you. It does take a bit of work. But is it worth it?
Nothing beats seeing the kids so comfortable in different cultural contexts and seeing them pick up your native language.
It’s a work in progress and I’m still learning, the team is still learning, we are all still learning so let’s all learn together!
Did we miss out on a tip that has worked for you? Let us know. We’d love to learn from you.
AND… Let me know in the comments what you would like to know more of.
Cultural crafts to do with kids?
Information on multicultural parenting?
Media, books, and apps for specific cultures?
Help us make the content you want to see!
Keep on Sparking!
- Camille and the Campfire Crates Team