By Angela Mesa-Taylor, Being Latino
As a Colombian-American raising two children with agringo husband, I’ve come to appreciate that we come from vastly different backgrounds. American and Latino families tend to have different expectations and traditions when it comes to raising children. We tend to be loud, gregarious and tight-knit, which can be overwhelming. Given that fact, it’s important to have an understanding and mutual agreement when it comes to the “mixed culture” in which you will raise your children.
Oftentimes, we assume that our kids will naturally follow what we feel in our hearts, but it’s not always that simple. It takes effort to raise little Americans who areculturally-aware Latinos. More so, it’s a team effort to instill in our children a love for our culture, while walking a fine line so as not to alienate their American heritage. How do we, as Latino parents, achieve the balance between our children’s constant exposure to all that is American and our desire to raise them with a strong sense of their Latino self?
We are surrounded by so much promise in this country, so many wonderful opportunities. But in those opportunities lies the chance to lose where we came from. The social media our children are exposed to is mostly in English and, quite frankly, doesn’t always mirror our values and beliefs.
It’s important to note that many of us who cling to our Latino heritage are Americans too, but it’s a matter ofwho we are that is rooted so strongly in the traditions our parents raised us with. We have a strong sense of family, a joy for life and an appreciation for the struggles our culture has endured. We have a deep-seated sense of belonging to something greater than ourselves. We are Latinos and we stand together. Our parents taught us to be true to who we are and never forget where we came from. These are the core values we should pass on to our children.
So how do we achieve this goal of raising little Americans with Latino pride? It takes work.
Firstly, teach your children Spanish. I cannot tell you the immense pride you will feel when they ask for theirleche or scream “Mas!” when being served arroz con frijoles. Expose them not only to the language and the foods, but also to the immense love of family and the orgullo you feel for being Latino.
We must remember that our children are Americans, too. The day will come when our daughters will want a Barbie, but perhaps you can include Theresa, her little Latina friend. And when our sons want to play football, they will have the option of using their hands or feet. We might be raising them in the U.S. but we should instill in them a love for all that being Latino represents. I know that for me, my greatest sense of pride is in being the family-oriented, proud, strong Latina that I am, and I want that for my children, too.
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[Photo by Ray_from_LA]