“Someone in school asked me where I’m from. I said “My mama is from India, My dada is from South Africa and I’m from Singapore. So, I guess I’m from all 3 places.” - Neil, 5 years old.
Having a mixed cultural identity can have both positive and negative effects on your little one. This can apply to interracial kids, immigrant kids, expat kids, adopted kids and more....
Increased cultural awareness: Your little one will have exposure to multiple cultures, traditions, and languages, which will increase their awareness and appreciation of diversity.
Confusion: Your little one may experience confusion or conflict around their mixed identity, especially if they feel pressure to choose one identity over the other.
Discrimination: Your little one may experience discrimination from both sides, which can be hurtful and confusing.
Sense of belonging: Your little one may struggle to feel like they belong to a specific cultural or ethnic group, which can be isolating.
Self-acceptance: Your little one may struggle with self-acceptance, especially if they feel pressure to conform to a certain identity.
Talking to your little one about being comfortable with multiple nationalities or identities can be a complex topic. Here are some tips to guide your conversation:
1. Explain the difference between nationality and identity in simple terms.
Your nationality is the country in which someone is a citizen ( show your little one their passport), but your identity refers to all the things that define who you are - what you like to eat, clothes you wear, where you live, your family, how you celebrate etc. Your nationality can the same but your identity can change based on your experiences.
2. Use age-appropriate language:
Keep it simple and avoid using technical terms or jargon that might be confusing. Here’s what you can say:
Growing up with two nationalities,
I learn to see the world differently.
I speak two languages, love two lands,
And see beauty in both of their sands.
3. Share your own experience:
If you have a multicultural background or have lived in different places, you can share your own experience of growing up with multiple nationalities or identities. This can help your little one understand that it's normal to have multiple identities and that it can be a positive thing.
4. Acknowledge their feelings:
Your child may have questions or concerns about having multiple nationalities or identities. It's important to acknowledge their feelings and address any concerns they may have. Let them know that it's okay to have questions and that you're there to answer them. “You can call more than 1 place home. Our homes are where our hearts are.”
5. Encourage diversity:
Encourage your child to learn about and appreciate different cultures and identities. This can help them develop a sense of empathy and respect for others. To instill a love for different cultures click here.
6. Celebrate their heritage:
Encourage your child to celebrate their heritage and share it with others. This can help them feel proud of their identity and help others learn about their culture.
Remember, talking to your little one about multiple nationalities or identities is an ongoing process. Be open to answering their questions and having ongoing conversations about this topic.
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