Your child may have a hard time relating to his ethnicity and heritage. These simple tips will encourage pride in your family’s culture and history.
Kids can find it difficult to relate to their ethnic backgrounds. How can my kids—born and raised in the US—identify themselves as Filipino Mexican?
None of them have visited either country. Even though I was born in the Philippines, I moved here to the US early in childhood. My husband was born and raised in Los Angeles and only visited his parents’ native country once).
Still, I want my kids to feel like they belong to a cultural group and feel pride in their ancestors. How can we encourage pride in our children’s culture and history?
How to encourage pride in our culture and history
Attend cultural festivals.
Take your children to local cultural festivals.
They’ll see traditional dances and songs of people who look like them. They’ll taste ethnic food and hear various people speaking a common language.
Festivals are a wonderful way to gather and celebrate a people’s common roots.
In Los Angeles, we’ve attended various festivals, such as:
- The Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture
- The Feast of San Gennaro (aka Jimmy Kimmel’s festival)
- Bastille Day
- Events at the Japanese American National Museum
Read books and fairy tales about your culture.
A few examples include The Little Snow Maiden (Russian), The Three Billy Goats Gruff (Norwegian), The Three Green Frogs (Korean) and The Little Red Hen (English). I’ve also found some good Filipino folk tales and Mexican nursery rhymes.
Buy cultural toys.
Many cultures feature popular toys, like the Russian nesting dolls, African drums or dreidels. And buy toys and dolls that resemble your child’s ethnicity. They should feel like not everyone looks like Barbie or Elsa.
Celebrate holidays and special occasions.
Use holidays to learn about the history of the event you’re celebrating. Holidays like Cinco de Mayo and Saint Patrick’s Day are a great excuse to learn about your culture.
Honor accomplishments during celebratory months like Black History Month or Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.
Share your culture’s historical contributions.
Research well-noted accomplishments and share them with your kids. They’ll feel proud for identifying with people who’ve made contributions and changed the world. Research famous inventions or the first person of your ethnicity to have accomplished something.
Embrace and learn from your extended family.
Not every cultural lesson has to be about history, food or traditional wear. Being with family shows your kids they’re like people who look, act and speak like them.
And share stories about your family’s ancestors. Talk about how your parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents came to this country. Share their accomplishments and the early days of your parents’ lives.
Eat ethnic food.
Eating food is a delicious way to share a people’s culture. Once you can get your kids to sit through restaurants, go to those that serve your family’s roots. Explore the globe and cook recipes based on country or region.
One of the best ways to expose your kids is to visit their native country. I plan to do this when all three of my children are older (and can remember the trips!).
Tying in your cultural backgrounds and sharing them with your children can be done.
- Attend festivals and try different ethnic foods.
- Borrow books and fairy tales from the library celebrating your history.
- Buy cultural toys (or those that resemble your kids).
- Discuss historical accomplishments they can be proud of, including those of their ancestors.
- And if you can, travel (or make plans to)—nothing beats learning about your culture than living in it.
Celebrate unique traditions—from years past and those today—that your children can be proud of.
Get more tips on celebrating culture and history:
- How to Keep Your Child Learning in the Summer
- 9 Children’s Books about Geography
- How to Teach Gratitude to Children
- 11 Children’s Books with People of Color (and Where Race Isn’t the Main Point)
Your turn: How do you encourage pride in your child’s culture and history? Let me know in the comments!
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