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)
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