Our neighbour was full of praise when she heard my little boy recite a religious song he had learnt in school. “He’s growing up to be a good Indian boy. So cultured.”
Brimming with pride over my son’s singing abilities, I then thought about my other two kids who hadn’t learnt the song. Does it make them less Indian or cultured?
I don’t think so. Our cultural heritage is a lot more than whom we pray to and how we pray. Our ethnicity, language, food, clothes, art, music and even our patterns of behaviour are also parts of our heritage culture.
Your little one’s culture impacts the way they grow. It impacts their value system, it forms and shapes how they think, how they speak, how they eat and who they are.
So, when we focus on one cultural aspect more than the others, we aren’t creating opportunities for our little ones to grow up confident in themselves or in their interaction with others.
So, how can you connect your child to your heritage culture beyond religion?
1.Accept that culture goes beyond religion.
Your kids may relate to some aspects more than others and that’s okay. Some cultural aspects may fit more naturally in their daily lives and that’s okay. Eating food with our hands or chopsticks, taking our shoes off or saying namaste..are all bits and pieces of what makes up your kids identity and culture.
2. Expose your kid to cultural experiences that work for you as a family.
As a family with different backgrounds, cultural experiences and environments, we can choose what works for our family. In some families, food takes priority and that’s how we pass on our culture to the next generation. In others, it might be language spoken at home or Friday night music and dance sessions. Choose experiences that the whole family can be involved in.
3. Involve Your Village
Culture isn’t passed down by a single person or even two. It needs a whole village. Whether its grandparents, relatives or friends, involving your village makes the whole process easier. When your kids see different people sharing their cultural traditions through festivals, food, clothes or language, they feel seen and represented. They will be more willing to be active participants in their cultural practices.
4. Tell Stories
Whether it’s family stories, personal anecdotes, folktales or even cultural storybooks, stories have a way of sparking imagination and connecting your little ones back to their roots. I
Indigrow’s A to Z of India series is a great way to share Indian culture while also sharing your experiences with your little one.
5. Last but not least, Make It FUN!
Certain words, foods, festivals, clothes, behaviour make us nostalgic for our home, for our childhood. They automatically bring a smile to our faces. Why? We all remember experiences that leave us feeling joyful.
When we teach our little ones to enjoy our heritage culture by making it fun and playful, we ensure that it’s not just a class/ceremony they are attending today. It’s a lifetime of love and pride for your culture that we are instilling.
Follow @indigrowkids for more play and conversation about raising kids in a diverse, multicultural world. Head to https://indigrowkids.com/ for books, games, playkits, songs and more...
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