Intercultural Municipal Elections 9 April (advance voting 29 March - 4 April)
The point of the municipal elections is to elect councillors to serve in the various municipal councils. The municipalities have a great deal of power and, therefore, so do the elected councillors who make important decisions. Their decisions concern, for example, the environment in which we live and the services needed to prevent exclusion. The municipalities are responsible for providing early care and education, and the elected councillors have multiple opportunities to advance the well-being of intercultural and bilingual families.
Voting is the only way to have influence on the issues that are important to you. Learn about your candidates, contact them and use your vote!
Remember that you don’t need a Finnish passport, because foreign citizens also have the right to vote.
Learn about the candidates!
What are the important issues for you and your family? Do the candidates in your municipality have any personal experience regarding intercultural life? What issues are the candidates promoting and what is important to them?
Make contact and ask questions!
Ask, for example, how the candidates plan to consider intercultural children and families in their decision-making. And how might the municipal services be organised so that they would better meet the needs of all types of families and diverse life situations?
You have a voice, use it and vote!
Your vote in the municipal elections has more of an influence on your life and living environment than any other type of election. Your councilmembers have the ability, for example, to ensure that a child’s language and cultural background is taken into consideration in his/her education and early care.
Who can vote?
Foreign nationals can also vote! You have the right to vote if you are a citizen of Finland, another EU Member State, Norway or Iceland, and you have established a municipality of residence in Finland no later than on 17.2.2017, or if you are a citizen of any other country and you have had a municipality of residence in Finland for an uninterrupted period of at least two years.
When and where can I vote?
ADVANCE VOTING 29 March - 4 April 2017
Advance voting will take place in Finland from 29 March to 4 April and abroad from 29 March to 1 April 2017. You can cast your vote at any of the advance voting stations in Finland and abroad. Finland has a total of 894 general advance voting stations located in, for example, municipal offices, shopping centres, libraries, citizen service offices and post offices.
ELECTION DAY 9 April 2017
Municipal elections are held every four years. The next official election day will be on Sunday, 9 April 2017. On election day, the voting stations are open from 9 am to 8 pm, and you can only cast your vote at the polling station indicated in the polling card that was mailed to your home address in advance. A passport or some other official ID must be presented at the polling station. The notice of right to vote (polling card) may be displayed but voting is possible also without presenting it.
Communications and Training Officer, Senior Expert (contact details)
The number of intercultural couples and families in Finland is increasing steadily. Over the last twenty years, the number international families has more than tripled, and there is little reason to believe that this development will change in the future. Currently, there are about 70 000 intercultural couples living in Finland, about half of which have children (Statistics Finland 2015).
Along with the increasing number of intercultural relationships and marriages, intercultural divorces have become a phenomenon with rising significance. More than 10 000 marriages are dissolved in Finland every year, latest 13 766 in 2013, of which 14% were intercultural marriages (Statistics Finland 2014).
When an intercultural marriage or a relationship comes to an end, “cultural differences” and “culturally based value differences” are sometimes used as a reason or a scapegoat for the break-up. However, the so-called cultural differences are seldom the root cause of a divorce. Indeed, the main reasons behind an intercultural divorce – such as unmet expectations, communication problems, inability to resolve conflicts, different priorities and interests, lack of intimacy, and infidelity – are the same than in “monocultural” relationships. Thus, it can be said that intercultural marriages dissolve for the most part for the very same reasons than monocultural marriages.
However, there are some factors that go some way to explaining the slightly higher divorce rate of intercultural marriages. One such a factor is a rushed marriage between partners who have not had a chance to get to know each other very well before the marriage. Many former long-distance couples only really get to know each other when they get married and move in together, and some realise only then that they have very different expectations or that they are they are “just too different”. Other factors include the stress involved in the immigration and integration processes, which can have a negative impact on both partners and can sometimes be a burden too heavy to bear for the relationship.
A divorce is hardly ever an easy decision, especially when children are involved. Worries about one's own future (and the future of the children) come to mind and the question whether the end of one's marriage also means the end of one's time in Finland often arises. Additionally, lack of social and emotional support make it additionally difficult to cope with the many challenges that come with a divorce, and the language barrier and unfamiliar bureaucratic processes stand in the way of making use of all available support options. The need for English and other language services and information is vast, and will probably be even more in the future.
In order to help foreigners in Finland (and maybe also Finnish people divorcing from a foreign partner) to make their way through the labyrinth of laws, services and regulations for a divorce, Duo has developed an Intercultural Divorce information package that contains the most basic starting points. The compact guide provides information on the most pressing questions about divorce process in Finland, including child custody and child care, distribution of assets, residence permit questions, legal support, and counselling services. Every section further includes quotes from people going through or having gone through an intercultural divorce in Finland, as well as useful documents and links to further information and services. Additionally, we created a glossary with the most important divorce terms in Finnish and English.
The Duo Guide to Intercultural Divorce in Finland is available online (web section on Duo's English language website) and in an electronic format (PDF)
(Silke Jungbluth and Hanna Kinnunen)
Duo organised an online lecture "Stress in Expatriate Spouses and Its Reduction" on Tuesday 19 May 2015. The lecture was recorded and can be watched on Perheaikaa.fi.
The lecture video consists of three parts. The first part deals with stress in expatriates and the second with stress reduction. At the end of the lecture there is a short guided meditation (10 minutes):
1. Stress in Expatriates
2. Stress Reduction
3. Guided 10 minutes long meditation
Recently I read an article from a Finnish newspaper (Helsingin Sanomat, 2014) discussing Erasmus students and their love affairs during the study of their exchange programmes. The article mentions that since 1987 up to 3 million students and 350 thousand teachers have become involved in an Erasmus programme.
Leaving for several months on an external study visit is quite common nowadays. Just to draw a comparison, 150 students visited Finland in the year 1992 but seven thousand students study in Finland nowadays. Statistics shows that 27% of the students who left on a foreign study visit initiated a long term relationship during their time abroad. An EU committee estimates that up to a million babies have been born since 1987 to couples that have met thanks to an Erasmus programme.
Because a person during his or her studies at university may also be looking for a life partner it is not rare that he or she finds that partner during the study visit abroad. So many circumstances can contribute to it. He/she leaves for a foreign university alone and everything in the foreign country is new and dressed in a magic to be experienced and recognised. The climate, culture, language and local customs may be magical also. The activities on the foreign and unknown territory take his or her up-to-now solid life assurances away. He or she partially leaves the automatic way of functioning and becomes more attentive to his or her own feelings and to the surroundings. One spends more time alone and maybe for the first time in his or her life gets in deeper touch with oneself. At the same time he or she might suffer from feelings of isolation, loneliness and absence. The need of a deeper and closer relationship and the chance to share one's own life story is especially intensive at this time and so the desire for new experiences with someone else grows.
Although one is fully involved in study he or she is torn away their previous way of life without one's family and social contacts and therefore has plenty of time (and time flows here slower on the subjective level), to devote to many kind of hobbies and social gatherings. The chance to meet someone who enchants us grows with the frequency of social contacts. And many are enchanted by their future life partner. In no time a joyful and enthusiastic period of time arrives during which the couple get to know each other and they share their life experiences. This time is also enriched by the elements of the new culture and language.
Unless the relationship ends up as a momentary flirtation after the end of the study visit and develops despite the physical separation, at the beginning partners build a distance relationship that has a magic of romantic love. Momentary meetings replace long term separations, emotionally stained by desire and missing of the partner, who is hundreds or thousands kilometres away and still virtually easily accessible. After successful handling of the long distance relationship, when partners look for the way to real life together, they often decide to enter into marriage.
And just like a prince takes his princess with him to his kingdom, one of the partners takes the other to his country. The fairy tales often end in this point. At best we get to know, that the prince and the princess lived together happily ever after. I have not come across a fairy tale that describes the life of the princess in a foreign kingdom. It should not probably be a fairy tale any more.
And now back to the initial statistics. A million children means approximately half a million couples (regarding 2 children per couple as an average). One person from a couple is brought by circumstance to a foreign country. Altogether half a million of people have engaged in the life of a foreign country thanks to Erasmus programme up to now.
The more economically advanced country or the country of a person who provides the finance for the family often wins the residence selection procedure. Although it is not a rule the model that a prince takes a princess away to his kingdom still predominates. The partners may also decide for a compromise and to alternate between the two countries that brings other complications especially after children start school. Or if they choose to live in a third country which is fair to both sides it may be a burden for the couple.
And how are those people, who left their own familiar surroundings, back-round, their place in life, culture, language, family, social group and started to create their own life story in an entirely different place? What kind of obstacles do they meet on their life journeys? Have they succeeded to continue their up-to-now smooth functioning life or did they have to start more or less from the beginning?
Those who left to go to a foreign country often live between two worlds. The world they are so familiar with and in which they feel like a fish in water and the other, new world to which they slowly must get used to. And the more sure they feel in the new world, the more distant the old good familiar world might seem to be as it also changes while they are away.
Binnie Kristal-Andersson (B. Kristal-Andersson, 2000) summarized the changes, that life in a foreign country brings and to which a person needs to adapt, in her work about immigrants and refugees. They include: variables in climate, landscape, environment, culture, ethnic/racial differences, religion, language, employment, politics, society, socio-economic conditions, education and the way new country functions.
The adaptation cycle is often complicated and painful. A person compares experiences, especially the lifestyle and values of his own country that he attained during his childhood with the experiences from the new country on a conscious or subconscious level. During the comparison one is often in a highly emotional state of mind, it is difficult to avoid the idealization of one's own country and criticism of the new country.
According to Kristal-Anderson (2000) during the adaptation cycle a person might have to deal with the following states of being: being a stranger, loneliness, missing, longing, feeling quilty, shame, separation and loss, sorrow, language and value degradation, inferiority, sense of non-identity, rootlessness, bitterness, suspicion, prejudice, and scapegoat syndrome.
How therefore to successfully continue my previous life story in the new country, where I know nobody, I do not belong anywhere, I do not basically have a profession, I could hold on the assumption that I have to learn the language from the entire beginning because a chance to find a job, lets say, in universal English is minimal? After the initial enthusiasm often comes disillusion, self-pity, daily dreaming "how it would be if", the feeling of being imprisoned, stuck, frozen, the impossibility of finding a solution, an absence of self-realization and fulfilment. It is not an easy path.
In my opinion, at first the conditions need to be accepted. If I am unable to change them I can try to accept them by myself or by the help of a psychologist. Fighting with the set of circumstances in front of me takes a huge amount of energy and does not bring any constructive ideas or solutions. When I am able to accept the conditions as they are, it is good to consider realistically and objectively the possibilities. The acceptance itself often gives rise to relief and new ideas start to come by themselves.
Familiarity with the local language opens many imaginary doors, doors to social contacts, feelings of autonomy and independence, a sense of belonging, literary and cultural production, and last but not least to fulfilling employment. It is good to define small goals on our path and to feel joy after their achievement.
While trying to learn the language I can for example at the beginning deal with making small purchases, ask for stamps at the post office, ask for directions in the street. It is good to find an intensive language course and add to it self-study, to read the titles of newspapers, to watch simple films with subtitles, to learn from children´s books, from adverts in the metro, to listen to foreign songs and to find out newly recognised words, in other words to involve every information channel. It is useful to speak with mistakes and without fear. On the other hand I would recommend to deal with offices in English where there does not come a feeling of insufficiency when I do not understand or cannot express myself and which easily leads to loss of motivation.
After managing to grasp the language on a conversational level, it is important to speak and listen. Provided that it is still not possible to find a work place I can consider additional education, retraining, or finding an internship programme or even charity help. Achieving mastery of the language will further develop by using it in everyday life. In the case that I am able to find only such a job which does not fulfil my expectations, I should take it as a temporary solution and not give up. I can engage in my hobbies during my free time and look for fulfilment through them. I can find friends with similar life circumstances as mine and we can share our life experiences together and support each other.
The adaptation to a new culture is an individual and unique process for everyone, since everyone comes with entirely different experiences from their own country and immigration may be taking place at a different time of their life. The optimal adaptation ends by integrating one's native culture with the elements of the new culture. The person´s original identity is preserved and it is enriched. The person is able to live a satisfying and fulfilling life in the foreign country. The person maintains the bonds to their original country that he/she visits whenever it is possible. The person passes the culture of their own country in the form of language, cultural heritage - literal and film production, customs and habits to their own children.
Intercultural love then and today - from Cleopatra and Marcus Antonius to Pekka Haavisto and Nexar Antonio Flores
Intercultural relationships are by no means a new phenomenon. The names and stories of intercultural couples can be read from the pages of magazines and novels, the Bible, history books, plays and poems: Cleopatra and Marcus Antonius, Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, Othello and Desdemona. What is a new phenomenon, however, is that the number of intercultural couples is rising rapidly worldwide.
For a long time intercultural relationship was mainly reserved for the elite: the well-off and famous, and the royalty. Today, intercultural unions have become almost commonplace and in rich countries alone international marriages number at least 10 million. (The Economist, 2011) Famous modern day examples of intercultural couples include Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president of France and Italian-born singer Carla Bruni, and Carl XVI Gustaf, the king of Sweden and German-born Queen Silvia. Famous Finnish examples from the field of politics include the current Prime Minister, Alexander Stubb and the current Minister for International Development, Pekka Haavisto whose partners are the British-born lawyer Suzanne Innes-Stubb and Ecuadorian-born entrepreneur Nexar Antonio Flores respectively.
The children of intercultural couples are also increasingly showing in publicity and it is fair to say that intercultural families and intercultural people are a permanent and enriching part of Finnish society. Famous examples of grown-up children of intercultural families who have made their mark in the fields of entertainment, sports, culture and politics include Finnish-Spanish entrepreneur Laila Snellman, Finnish-Estonian author Sofi Oksanen, Finnish-American basketball player Gerald Lee Jr., Finnish-Kenyan Member of Parliament Jani Toivola, and Finnish-Portuguese singer Anna Abreu.
It would be impossible to describe a “typical” intercultural couple or a “typical” expatriate spouse. Intercultural couples and expatriate spouses are not a homogeneous category of people. Expatriate spouses, however, have one thing in common: they have all followed their hearts to a new country, and, by doing so, embarked on a journey that will change their lives forever. With that change comes opportunity, but also strain and worry, because migration is stressful no matter what the circumstances. The effects of migration are felt mostly by the expatriate spouse, but the home spouse and the couple’s relationship are also affected. Therefore, the success – or the failure as it may be – of the adjustment process of the expatriate spouse has an impact on her or his life as well as the life of the home spouse and the possible children of the couple.
Intercultural families living outside of their home countries: choosing which languages to speak with the child
Having a child ranks among the most life-changing events you will ever experience, and quite rightly. This process and all the different adjustments that come with this life-changing event can be uprooting enough for people from the same country, but when the term ‘intercultural couple’ is added a wave of new questions, negotiations and readjustment appears. However, this is not to say that it is by any means a less positive or rewarding experience – in fact, the complete opposite is often true. But, people involved in intercultural relationships need to be ready to discuss and resolves issues related to parenthood, such as bilingualism, the combining of cultures and cultural differences, in a way that suits both them and their child.
Duo, therefore, came up with the idea of establishing a unique self-study course which expectant parents could go through at their own pace while learning about the many aspects that make up intercultural parenthood. The project received clearance in early 2014 and a team was then put in place in order to get the project off the ground. What has emerged is an interactive course which combines expert advice with background information, self-study assignments and external links to articles and blogs written on the subject. By taking part in this course, parents will be offered the information and tools necessary to make the most informed decisions when it comes to not only their child but the relationship they have with their partner. Furthermore, a number of interviews with parents who have gone through the process themselves will be embedded throughout, in order to lend a degree of real-life experience to the course.
The major issues, such as bilingualism, the third culture and gender roles are, of course, covered within the course, but there are a number of themes dedicated to issues which people perhaps hadn’t considered beforehand. For example, the impact of integration on the family’s well-being is discussed, alongside support networks, potential downfalls and the very concept of culture and what it entails. The idea is to give couples who are expecting a baby, as well as those who are already parents, a rounded view of the special characteristics of intercultural parenthood and child-raising.
The course has been made possible thanks to funding from Väestöliitto's Perhenetti Project and Duo, which is a four-year project administered by Familia Club. Both projects are financed by RAY. Duo was set up to focus on intercultural couples living in Finland, given they have tripled in number over the past twenty years to more than 65 000. Duo offers its services, which include peer groups, family training and advice services, throughout the country and keeps in touch with both its past and present members through Facebook, regular newsletters and a comprehensive website.
The course is currently being compiled and will be ready by the end of October. Please do keep an eye on our website and our Facebook page for more information about content and the final publication date.
(Craig Houston, Duo)
Does being bicultural automatically mean being bilingual? Real life experiences of grown-up bicultural children
Bringing up a child to be bilingual is one of the most common concerns among intercultural families and parents. One persistent myth related to bilingualism is that children grown up in bicultural environments will automatically become also bilingual. Instead, raising bilingual children is a choice that requires careful planning and effort from the parents. Parents can never know what the future brings with it but supporting a child´s bilingualism helps in keeping different options open for them.
We do not have the skills to see the future but what we do have is the ability to learn from other’s experiences. This can be a valuable source of information to other parents and families dealing with the same concerns. To learn more about becoming bilingual, I set out to talk with Christian, Laura and Sandra who all have grown up in intercultural families with parents having different native languages. They were all happy to share their stories about dealing with the choices and challenges that different situations and environments set for bringing up bilingual children.
Christian was born to a Finnish mother and a Norwegian father, who in his youth lived in Canada with his Norwegian parents, but moved to Norway when he turned 22-years old. Christian was born in Norway where he also lived in his preschool years. He went to a kindergarten in Norway, but moved to Finland with his parents when he was just 5-years old. At that age, he spoke only in Norwegian although he could understand also Finnish and English. Currently, Christian speaks English and Finnish perfectly and can understand some Norwegian.
Laura’s mother is German and father Finnish, but both of them have lived a large part of their lives in Canada where they met, and raised their family. There was a period in her childhood, when Laura went once a week both to a Finnish and German school where she was taught her parents languages. Now, at her early twenties, Laura speaks only English.
Similarly to Laura, Sandra comes from a Finnish-German family, yet with the mother being Finnish and father German. Her Finnish mother studied German and moved to Germany to do an internship during which time she met Sandra’s father. They decided to build their common home in Germany and that’s where Sandra grew up. The language mostly used at their home was German. Nowadays Sandra considers German as her mother tongue, but she can also understand some Finnish.
Changing the language setting
After moving to Finland Christian struggled with Finnish language as living in Norway his parents had spoken mainly in Norwegian and English. Coming from an environment where Finnish was the minority language to an environment where Finnish was suddenly the majority language brought challenges when meeting other children.
“Finnish was hard for me at first. It was hard for me to get friends. I started playing with my neighborhood kids, and I could get along, but it was hard for me because I didn’t know the language that well yet so I spent most of my days at home.”
But Christian’s parents had chosen potentially the best age to move a child abroad – before starting school. Being very young at the time of the move, he adapted to the new language very quickly and spoke Finnish perfectly in less than a year. Yet, his Norwegian skills started to change as the family changed its language practices. The communication at home switched now to mostly English and there was so little communication in Norwegian both at home and outside of it that his former skills declined.
“I think it was some time in elementary school that we didn’t speak Norwegian at home anymore, or sometimes they did spoke Norwegian a bit, but I started answering back in English and English became the dominant language at home. I went to school, I spoke Finnish with my friends, I came back home and spoke English with my parents.”
Moreover, Christian rarely saw any of his Norwegian family and when he did see his grandparents, he could speak English with them:
“They could speak Norwegian back to me and they did this. They spoke Norwegian together, they spoke Norwegian to me, but I always answered in English after I turned 7 or 8.”
English was now the dominant language of their family, although when alone with his mother, they spoke in Finnish.
From ‘less and less’ to speaking only the majority language
Although having used Finnish in her communication with her mother before and attending Finnish school once a week, Sandra refused to speak to her mother in her native language at the age of 5. She knew that her mother can also fully speak and understand German, and therefore she understood that she actually doesn’t need to speak Finnish. Without having equal exposure to both Finnish and German it happened that German became more important in Sandra’s life.
“My mother taught Finnish to me when I was a kid but when I was about 5-years old I refused to answer in Finnish, so I have forgotten a lot. Sometimes she still tried but it got less and less.”
Teaching but not living the language
Laura’s parents didn’t speak their own native languages at home but instead they turned to language schools to supplement Laura’s German and Finnish language exposure and to teach her more about both of the cultures. Yet, the hours spent there were not enough to hear and use the languages in a regular basis. Due to her parents speaking primarily English at home, similarly to Sandra, she didn’t have the real need to talk in German nor Finnish. Also outside of the home, there wasn’t a rich enough environment to support her language learning.
Is bilingualism really a bridge to the parents’ culture?
After many years Laura started studying German again in her university in Canada. She states that ‘it was kind of like re-teaching herself which was nice.’ She is currently living and studying in Finland where she has started taking Finnish courses but she hopes to be able to go live also in Germany to show her mother that ‘she is also German’. Also Sandra’s life has brought her to her mother’s country of birth Finland but her weak Finnish skills have brought her some challenges:
“It would be a lot easier for me now. For example when I meet my Finnish relatives they only speak in Finnish to me, so knowing Finnish would be very helpful. When I am visiting them alone, it can be quite sad when we don’t understand each other.”
This shows that although there is a close link between language and culture, a person doesn’t need to know the language fully to embrace his or hers cultural backgrounds. Both Sandra and Laura feel related to their parents’ countries of origin and have taken the leap to go live there now when being grown-ups.
Parents can never know what future brings with it but it is best to help keep options open for the children. As can be seen, teaching the child both parents’ native languages is important already for the reason that in this way the children can communicate with the rest of the family.
What can intercultural parents learn from all of this?
Christian, Laura and Sandra all come from different circumstances, yet what unites them is that language learning was not their parent’s conscious decision. Bilingualism often does not come automatically unless parents really think through which languages will be used and how, and make efforts to use these particular approaches. Raising bilingual children is a choice and even though Laura and Sandra are not bilingual themselves, they believe in children’s ability to successfully learn their parent’s languages. With hindsight, all interviewees support the more active use of both parents’ languages.
Teaching your children your languages will not be without its challenges but it is important to keep in mind that you are actually not “teaching” your child, not more than teaching them to walk. Still, it is a very common misunderstanding that children will just ‘pick up a language’; but instead, it requires effort from the parents.
Some of the things you should do are to decide as early as possible on what your goals for your child’s language learning are, offer your child enough exposure to the language and stick with the choice of languages. Also, you cannot expect your child to become proficient overnight like you cannot expect your child to become a violinist just with one day.
Tips from the interviewees to intercultural parents
A cultural identity is about the feeling of belonging to a particular cultural group or community. To achieve a positive cultural identity the child needs to feel comfortable within one’s culture and language. However, growing up with more than one cultural background can be confusing and it might be difficult for intercultural children to find a place where they feel they belong to. It is possible to feel at home in more than a single culture but for understanding oneself and appreciating one’s background, one must have knowledge of the parents’ cultures. The certainty of knowing their heritage helps children in multiple ways.
It was psychologist Erik Erikson who wrote in 1968 that a person’s identity development works through the interaction with others. The first influencing people are parents who are followed later in life by other members of the community and society. As the first closer point of interaction, parents play an important role in supporting the child’s healthy sense of self. By sending positive messages of one’s cultural background parents can help the child develop a positive and strong identity.
Teaching the child both parents’ languages is a useful way to immerse children within both cultures. Communicating with your children in both of the parents’ mother tongues supports the children to become bilingual but although language has been seen as a gateway to culture, supporting the child's cultural identity works also through other aspects than language. To help children understand where they come from, parents should also tell the children about their heritage which may or may not be done in both parents’ native languages.
Supporting the child’s identity can be as simple as telling about one’s cultural history, traditions and customs. For example, parents could teach their children about their culture’s cuisine, religion or important events. Also, staying connected with the relatives is a great way for the child to understand more about one’s background as they most likely have a lot of stories to tell. Often grandparents are more aware about cultural habits and beliefs which make them a valuable source of information. Children love to hear stories and sharing stories and experiences of both parents’ cultures helps children to achieve a positive cultural identity as they do not learn only about their family but also more about themselves.
For the child’s well-being it is important that the parents view their culture in a positive light. For example, parents could think what cultural traditions made them happy when they were children or what do they value the most about their own culture at the given moment. If these questions seem hard to answer, one could study one’s own, and also the other parent’s culture together, by such activities as going to an ethnic restaurant, learning about culture through movies, attending cultural events, or listening to traditional music. Besides exposing the children to your culture, familiarizing with the partner’s culture will also help to prevent misunderstandings.
In any case, studying both cultures through practical activities such as visiting your home country, watching movies in the native language or teaching children about the games you used to play or songs you used to sing as a child, is likely to be a fun way for the family to spend time together. Whatever the child’s age, if the child is asking about traditional food or language it is only an advantage to share your knowledge with them.
By having knowledge of their heritage, intercultural children become more able to assess which aspects of their cultural backgrounds they want to embrace as part of their own identity. Although parents might have ideas about how they would want the child to balance the two cultures, it is important to let the child absorb the parts of the culture that for him or her seem the dearest. Appreciating their cultural background helps the children to support their self-esteem and mental well-being. When a child has a positive cultural identity, he also has a more positive view on life.
As the parents teach the child about their culture they can help in securing the transition of cultural knowledge from generation to generation. This way parents can offer the child a more enriched life which will make the child appreciate different cultures and develop positive attitudes towards cultural differences. As a parent, you can help to contribute towards a society which embraces cultural diversity.
Question: What do you do to introduce your culture to your child?
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