Sharing Heritage and Multiple Cultures with Children
For a long time, my daughter would say she was from three countries: "I'm from Trinidad, Puerto Rico, and the United States!" she'd tell anyone that would listen.
She was only about 3 years old when she started saying this, and it lasted until she was 5 or so. Her father is from the Caribbean island of Trinidad and I am from Puerto Rico. As such, we would tell her that both nationalities were in her blood and made up a part of who she was. She took it upon herself to add the fact that she is also from the United States, since she was in fact born in this country.
The curious thing about her identifying with all three countries is that she did so at such a young age. It was important to my husband and I that our daughter know her heritage and learn about our cultures, so we began talking about where we each came from early-on.
Of course, we also exposed her to our cultures through music, food, and in my case, language, but it seemed that she enjoyed our personal stories the most. Our stories were what allowed her to get a glimpse into our individual childhoods and imagine what life was like for us as children on our respective islands. But, the first time she self-identified as being from all three countries, well, that was a proud moment for my husband and I!
My daughter is now 6, and doesn't so much say she's from three countries anymore. However, she still knows it's her heritage and often asks us about life in Trinidad and Puerto Rico. Something else that has changed is that she now self-identifies as both Black and Latina. This is amazing to me that as young as she is, she can already see she's not just one or the other, but both.
In a world where we are still trying to make others aware that Latinos come in many shades and from various racial backgrounds, my young daughter knows she doesn't have to choose.
I can only hope that as she grows older, she will continue to be aware of her heritage and will not let others define who she is. We will, of course, make every effort to provide an environment where she can learn all she wants about our family's history and culture, so she can be informed. We want her to understand where her roots lie, what makes our family who we are, and hopefully, allow her to continue to share her heritage with her own family.
Is teaching your kids about their heritage important to you?
Melanie Edwards is the founder and editor of ModernMami.com, an award-winning lifestyle blog, and founder of Ella Media, whose focus is to connect businesses with today’s digital Latina. Married 9 years, Melanie is the proud mother of a 6-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy, who are being raised in a bilingual, multicultural environment. Originally from Puerto Rico, Melanie now resides in Orlando, Florida.
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