BEING A MULTICULTURAL FAMILY
Who are we as a multicultural family?
Intermarriage is becoming increasingly common in modern society. Individuals with different backgrounds, cultures, languages, and races are starting to share life within the community around the world; People who are exposed to diversity regularly tend to become global mindset individuals and have higher chances of creating a hybrid family.
We are a multicultural family through both internal and external influences. I am a third culture kid who has been living outside of my home country – Taiwan for around half of my lifetime. I was fortunate enough to experience different stages of my life in Singapore, Hawaii, Boston, New York, and São Paulo before moving to Spain. Daniel, who is the father of my two daughters, is raised in a Brazilian-Catalan family. Sao Paulo city, which is where Daniel grew up, is considered to be the most diverse city not just in Brazil but also in the entire continent of South America. When I was in Brazil, almost no one thought that I was a foreigner or expat. Locals always say that anyone can be Brazilian judging from their appearance.
We are interracial, intercultural, multilingual, third-culture, multiple citizenships. My multicultural family is a miniature version of the world.
Being a Multicultural Family?
People often ask me questions such as where do we meet? What languages do we speak with each other and our parents? How about kids’ education? And so on.
For the most part, we are just like every other family, focus on building healthy and balanced relationships between family members and as a group.
We create family time as much as possible, do fun things together, share a laugh, create family traditions, own our insider jokes, and also a family song we sing every day. We teach discipline and love to our multicultural kids. On the other hand, we also have family flaws, experiences ups, and downs, often need to make many important decisions together.
Besides our multicultural backgrounds, we have a passion for exploring, a passion for traveling, and cultures! Therefore, family travel is one of the most fundamental family activities for us.
Being a parent of multicultural kids is feeling almost the same way as raising any child. We interact with them, help them grow, and also discover things about ourselves that we don’t want them to be mirroring. Therefore, we grow as individuals regardless if you are a multicultural family or not.
Our Unique Differences
Combining all these multicultural elements, we do have several interesting moments and challenges.
Interracial is the most external clue of being my multicultural family since it shows on the appearance.
“How to raise a confident biracial child?” is the most frequent question most people are asking me as a mother of two biracial kids. The racial topic has been more prominent than ever in 2020.
When an intercultural couple forms a multicultural family, we don’t seem to think much about our racial group. We tend to focus on enjoying and building relationships like every couple. However, there is something about having a child, you want to make sure the world they are growing up is a better one, and as parents, we also want to make sure they are living in an environment where they feel comfortable about who they are. As a result, biracial topics became under my radar.
We raise awareness of cultural sensitivity, we also celebrate diversity to help our biracial child to accept and respect the differences.
My native language is Chinese; Daniel speaks Portuguese and Catalan. Our family language is English. We are living in a Spanish and Catalan community.
Studies continue to uncover learning a parent’s native language is one of the great ways to learn cultures, we have decided to go for multilingual education without a doubt and placed English as the primary language.
As parents of multilingual kids, we use “One Parent One Language” techniques that require discipline. We are often confused by our multilingual channels and getting languages mixed up. During the early language development years, our kids start speaking later than average children, and we are always guessing if she understands us. Our Portuguese speaking father ends up talking in all the languages like switching TV channels, to ensure our multilingual kid understands the instructions. When kids start to speak, she forms a sentence with words from different languages.
We ask kids to translate each other’s language. Sometimes I need to ask my daughter: “What did papai just say?”; We have more than one accent floating in the house.
We are a multicultural family where East meets the West. Latin American father and an Asian mother, very two different cultural backgrounds. That means we have a multicultural fridge and multicultural calendar. Whether it’s religious or non-religious holidays, sometimes we see the importance of celebrating and sometimes we celebrate just for the sake of influence, such as carnival.
We experience awkward moments when both sides of the family meet; There are noticeably different eating habits and food preferences between cultures. Most dishes are designed to be shared in Taiwan while Brazilian prefer individual dishes; Taiwanese are used to round tables while Brazilian are used to rectangular tables. Brazilian father does not use a spoon as he said it is for little kids in Brazilian culture, while spoons and chopsticks are essential eating tools in Taiwan.
We have a multicultural drawer. It contains a pile of passports from different countries and “multicultural legal documents,” such as birth certificates and marriage certificates notarizing in various locations and translated in multiple languages.
Since we have been moving around for years, we are also experienced in applying for residential permits, work permits, and registering for marriage in different countries. Running after legal documents and dealing with government bureaucracy feels like part of our life. A portion of the family expense – financially and physically – contributes to our legal status.
Being a multicultural family is challenging. Due to our differences and how we blend ourselves in society are the type of situations we try to determine and experience every day in our life. Therefore, family members need to discuss the goals and expectations, search for a lifestyle that is suitable to keep everyone aligns. How to approach some of the significant issues will play a vital role for the family’s growing experience.