Blending Families during the Holidays

If you’ve been following my posts about blending intercultural families and even raising kids with two cultures ,  I thought it was only appropriate to chat about how we can do both over the holidays. It can be a tough thing to do, blending the two cultures, but there is such a beautiful result, and I promise it is worth the effort!

In my family, as I’ve shared with you, we have two cultures already present. On top of that, we live in a third culture that neither of us own. By default, that culture is a big part of our lives now which makes it even harder to have the other two equally represented. However, as with most things, what isn’t easy is often worth the effort when you work for it. Having kids who are open to different cultures and traditions in addition to  accepting of the way others live is a beautiful thing. As parents, I’ve found that we can often learn from our children.

Here are my tips for blending cultures during the holidays.

blending families during the holidays

1.) Slow down

This applies to all of us. The holidays can get out of control if you let them. I think it’s good practice to slow down. How does this apply to intercultural families? Well, if you are busy trying to celebrate one holiday, imagine what it’s like adding another to the mix! Slow down and enjoy the love and laughter that the holidays bring, appreciate one tradition at a time and make sure your kids understand the significance of each.

2.) Pick and choose

I am a firm believer that no one can do it all. And honestly, that’s okay. This is true for families celebrating one culture and those of us honoring multiple cultures. You might not get to celebrate every tradition within each culture. You might have to either let some slip through the cracks or at least celebrate them in a lesser way. Acknowledge them, but don’t make a huge deal out of them. I think it would be important for the couple to sit down and talk about which ones are the ones that they want to do big and which ones will they do minimally. And you know what ladies and gentlemen? It is OKAY. I give you permission to not do it all.

3.) Be adventurous

Even though I always talk about how blending cultures is so beautiful and so worth it (which it is), it is still tough! It is hard to let go of what you know to be ‘normal’ for someone else’s normal. It can be hard to let those new things into your life and make them yours as well. In a intercultural marriage/relationship I think it is important to let go of what you know to be normal. Let go of what you’re parents did or what your family did and create a new normal for your own family. Be willing to explore, incorporate new traditions and create traditions that solely belong to you and your family.

4.) Mix and match

I know I just said you have to choose. Now what happens if you can’t choose? What happens with something like Christmas which most cultures celebrate in some way and a lot of cultures do it quite differently? Well, mix and match! Create your own version of Christmas! A version where the two worlds combine to create this wonderful blend all on it’s own. You will end up creating amazing memories that are so special and unique to your family.

My husband comes from The Bahamas. They have a huge parade the day after Christmas called Junkanoo. It’s what they do at Christmastime. Now, we can’t really celebrate Junkanoo at Christmas because we’re never in The Bahamas that time of year, but you better believe my husband brings that home! You can find my boys jammin’ to Junkanoo music the day after Christmas ever year.

5.) Take a trip

Most of the time there is a culture in the relationship that is less represented. In our house it’s the Bahamian culture. Not because I don’t want it in our lives but because I am the one that does most of the planning and things for holidays and my husband is more relaxed. He often doesn’t chime in with his own family’s experiences. What we want to do (when it’s feasible for us) is take a trip to The Bahamas during Christmastime so the boys and I can really experience a true Bahamian Christmas.

Now you might not have to travel to another country, or it simply might not be possible, but try to put it on your list. Alternatively, maybe you live close to an area that has a “little ___ town” and you can get a sample of what it would be like. It’s of course always good to get to experience things first hand, but hey, sometimes you need to be creative!

6.) Be willing to give

Your holiday doesn’t always have to win. Your tradition might be the one that has to change a bit. And that’s okay. Even though it’s hard at first, the result will be worth it.

This was especially hard for me. I grew up in a great family with amazing parents. I am a Daddy’s girl, so when I married my husband I had a lot of expectations for him. Not only was he not my dad, he was from an entirely different world. Once I started learning to embrace him and everything he brings with him, things became so much easier & a whole lot better. I gave up the things I thought an ‘American dad/husband’ should look like and embraced the dad & husband that he was/is. Give a little on your idea of what things should look like for what your world will look like when you blend your holidays together!

There you go! I would love to hear how you blend your families together for the holidays. Even if you don’t have two cultures in your life, you still most likely have two families and even that can be hard sometimes! What do you do to make sure everyone is represented during the holidays?

Most importantly, enjoy & love each other!

Honey Baked Apples With Cereal and Cinnamon Yogurt

Sometimes breakfast calls for slowing down, savoring the moment, the flavors, the company.

This meal is just the thing for one of those mornings. It is perfect when you aren’t rushing out the door, when you have time to sit and enjoy the warmth of the meal and the combination of the textures this dish brings. It doesn’t take long to prepare, but the time you can enjoy sitting around the table – especially on a chilly morning, is worth any time you put in to it.

Honey Baked Apples with Cereal and Yogurt

I love to whip this up over the holidays – when family is visiting. It is light enough that it won’t spoil a big meal later in the day, but savory enough that your guests (and even the people who live with you all year long) will feel loved and spoiled.

What You’ll Need

  • 3 apples, peeled and sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter, melted
  • ½ Cup Vanilla Yogurt
  • ¼ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ Cup Kellogg’s Vanilla Almond Special K  

Honey Baked Apples with Cereal and Yogurt

Directions:

Cut and slice apples.
Place them in a bowl with honey, maple syrup, and melted butter.
Stir until coated.
Place apples in a pan and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees until soft.
Stir together vanilla yogurt and cinnamon.
When apples are done baking, place them in a bowl, spoon yogurt mixture on top and sprinkle with Vanilla Almond Special K and a dash of extra cinnamon.

Honey Baked Apples With Cereal and Cinnamon Yogurt

Now….you tell me…how easy was that?

If you have left overs? Both the baked apples and the yogurt will keep in the fridge and can be used for snacks the next day. You have the option to warm them both again or keep them cool. I’ve found that my family enjoys them both ways.

 Disclosure: I am proud to have a long-standing partnership with Kellogg’s and love finding new ways to incorporate cereal in to our meals – breakfast and otherwise. As always, all thoughts and opinions shared on this site are mine and mine alone.

DIY Thanksgiving Centerpieces

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and whether you’re hosting a gathering at your house or you’re going somewhere, you can easily make a Thanksgiving Centerpiece with items you have around your house and yard.

4 DIY Thanksgiving Centerpieces Found Around Your House!

A quick browse of Pinterest and you can find some amazingly creative ideas that are sure to be easy, cheap or even free. I adore gourds and love to use them in my tablescapes .  This year, I grabbed a bunch at a local market for only $1. I think they were trying to get rid of them, so they were priced incredibly low. Check out your local market, I bet you’ll find a deal!

One of the great things about Thanksgiving is that this holiday has the look of fall – earthy, organic, warm colors.  You don’t have to run out and spend $100 on the most elaborate centerpiece – just use items right in your backyard.  For my Thanksgiving centerpiece on our table, we have a Thankful Tree.  We created our own tree from sticks, hanging tags and a vase.  I used a tray that’s already on my table and filled with pinecones and gourds.  It has always been a favorite. Head over to All Things Mamma to see the whole DIY!

Thankful Tree

If you want to get creative with other items found in nature, how about a simple large candle holder filled with pine cones?  I found a ton of pine cones outside a church by my house.  There were so many, I’m sure they didn’t mind me taking a few for my centerpiece.  I bet you can find a bunch with a quick walk through your neighborhood if you don’t have pine trees in your back yard.

pinecones

Another idea is filling a rustic box with gourds.  I used the gourds I mentioned above and filled a box in the center of my table.  Super cute!  You could use a fancy table runner underneath it or a piece of burlap like I did here.

gourds

If you happened to make my chalk painted pumpkins last month, put them to good use again and update your centerpiece with those pine cones and gourds. Simple, inexpensive and perfectly Fall.  I, again, used my tray on my table – put my painted pumpkin in the center and surrounded it with pine cones and gourds.

pumpkin

Whatever you put together this Thanksgiving as a centerpiece, it’s sure to be a hit if it comes from the heart and is handmade!  Don’t forget to checkout my favorite Sweet Potato Casserole to share with your family this Thanksgiving.

What’s your favorite natural elements to use for decoration?  I’d love to hear YOUR tips in the comments below.

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

make-ahead-thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in our family is usually celebrated at our house. Although I love to host our family and friends on such a special day, the cooking used to stress me out…until I got rid of the notion that I had to cook all the food the day-of. Now I knock out as many sides as I can in the days leading up to the feast! This helps me feel empowered and optimistic.

(I also farm out the desserts to guests who ask, “What can I bring?” There are hostesses and there are bakers, and I fall into the first category.)

I do all the shopping on Monday, and on Tuesday I get to cooking! Here are my go-to make-ahead recipes for a traditional Thanksgiving feast.

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Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes aka Stress-Free Thanksgiving ‘Taters

This is my personal recipe for Turkey Day ‘taters. After hosting Thanksgivings and Christmases for large family groups for several years now, I realized that the most panic-inducing dish was one of the easiest: the mashed potatoes. This is more of a strategy than a recipe, this eliminates the stress of making the mash minutes before everyone sits down to say grace.

Recipe for Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes on A Parent in America.com 

PicMonkey Collage

Nigella Lawson’s Redder-Than-Red Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is simple and needs to be refrigerated, so it is a no-brainer to make this bubbly, ruby-red gorgeousness a few days pre-feast. I think the addition of brandy (and I also add a splash of Campari, but then, I just love that orangey-bitter spirit at holiday time) is what takes this recipe up a notch from the one on the back of the Ocean Spray bag.

Recipe for Nigella Lawson’s Redder Than Red Cranberry Sauce on FoodNetwork.com

challah-stuffing

Granny’s Challah Stuffing

Making stuffing the night before Thanksgiving makes my cortisol levels rise, but doing it the Tuesday night before the holiday? I feel so organized and domestic! Put on your favorite music in the kitchen and the kettle for tea and get to crumbling this rich, buttery bread.

Recipe for Granny’s Challah Stuffing on Yummly.com

sweet-potatoes

Southern Style Favorite Yams aka Sugary Sweet Potatoes

All year long I prepare fresh sweet potatoes for my family. Simply chopping them in cubes, dusting with paprika, cayenne and salt and roasting in olive oil at 400 is always a winner for savory sweet potatoes.

But come that fateful Thursday in November my family wants the sweetness and softness of the canned version. I make these the night before and leave out the marshmallows, instead adding mini marshmallows at the very end of their baking to make a white “duvet” across the top.

Recipe for Southern Style Favorite Yams at Bruce’s Yams Yamright.com

fresh-turkey

How to Simplify’s Rosemary Roast Turkey

The turkey? I may be cavalier about making sides the days before, but I do think you need to roast the traditional bird the day-of. Last year I made Jen Tilley’s Rosemary Roast Turkey and it. was. amazing.

However, a great way to save yourself time, if not cash, is to buy a fresh, non-frozen bird. Spring for one at your local organic market. You will taste the difference between those Franken-turkies and an old-fashioned farm-raised bird. And you will not miss for one second the tedious defrosting process.

Recipe for Rosemary Roast Turkey on How to Simplify.com

More Make Ahead Thanksgiving Ideas!

What Thanksgiving dishes do YOU make ahead?

Giving During the Holidays: The Salvation Army and My #RedKettleReason

I can feel it. The temperatures start to dip and it instantly feels like the holidays are right around the corner.

In our home, that means I’m giddy. (ok…fine…I’m not giddy about the cold, but I DO love the holidays.) I love the spirit, the traditions, the food, the time with family and the opportunity to give. From the time my small people were very small, we’ve always made acts of kindness an active and beautiful part of our season.

I’ve always known that my kids don’t do as I say, they do as I do….so, it is important that they see my husband and I giving, helping others, providing toys, food and as much holiday cheer as we can for other families.  Much as my mom always did with me, my goal has been to pass that spirit along.

RedKettleReason

While my kids actively create ‘holiday wish lists’ – as many children do, we make sure to incorporate ‘wishes’ for other children and families as well. We hope this season, as we have in the past, we’ll be able to provide a ‘full holiday experience’ for a family….the kind they imagine when they close their eyes.

I’m grateful there are organizations like the Salvation Army that make giving not only such an extraordinary priority, but they create the ease of opportunity for people who want to give. They Red Kettles are so recognizable, and they make giving each year so easy – whether you have a lot or a little that you can offer –  everything you do makes an impact. And the littlest among us are watching.

This year, my #RedKettleReason for giving? My sweet small people. They are growing to be kind, generous, bigger people and I want that to continue.

With that very spirit of giving in mind, I had the opportunity to share my special reasons for giving this season with SheKnows and the Salvation Army…. take a look at this video and share your #RedKettleReason.

Family Starts in the Kitchen

“Mom, can I help you make dinner?” She looks up at me, her doe eyes wide and unblinking, swimming with the hope that I will say yes. It isn’t always my first inclination to give in to this request. Cooking dinner is not my favorite task. Add to it the stress of an eight year old trying to help and my initial reaction shies toward the solo act of meal preparation.

But more often than not, I stop myself from this inward longing to go it alone, and focus more on the privilege it is to share these sweet, fleeting moments with my girl while her hair still hangs in white strands over full, pink cheeks. She’s young, and I’m still the coolest person alive in her eyes. I want to soak these moments up as the gift that they are.

eMommy2

So I step back and bite my lip, staving off a sigh and instead pushing my mouth into a wide grin. She pulls up a stool, and together we get to seasoning the chicken, tossing the salad, sautéing the vegetables, and buttering the bread. She wants to do it all, even cut the onion, but when her eyes start to burn, she quickly shoves it away and settles for the less glamorous task of setting the table.

Heading into the Thanksgiving season, I’m looking for more ways to show my children gratitude. I require this act of them, but I’ve realized lately that I’m not modeling it as I should. I often act as though everything I do for and with them is some great sacrifice, and of course it is. Motherhood is one giant act of sacrifice, a constant laying down of my wants in order to pour into these little ones who have captured me.

But they don’t need to feel the weight of that sacrifice.

eMommy1This act of modeling gratitude is something I must work on every day of the year, not just during the month of November when I feel a heightened sense of obligation to be thankful. This month, however, offers a good launching point in the direction of this sacrificial love that fills my children with the knowledge that time with them is of the utmost importance to me.

With the holidays fast approaching, I see more and more opportunity to give intense quality time to my children. This all starts in the kitchen with my daughter. We have plans to cook many meals together this month. She may even plan out a menu for us to follow. As she dreams of chopping and stirring and baking all manner of desserts (because I firmly believe her menu will be 90% sweet, 10% nutrition), I look into the future and hope and pray that these moments will leave an imprint that she then passes to the next generation.

Family bonds start in the kitchen around savory dishes, sweet aromas, and the laughter and banter of parent and child. With fruit skewered on blessed plates, and tender meat cooked to perfection, we will share meals together as a family, giving thanks for the many ways we have been blessed.

Family life is hard. It’s not as glamorous as much of the online realm would have us believe. Most days my family looks anything but picture perfect. The children are dirty, and so is my house. Some days there is more bickering than laughter, and we don’t always like one another. But we’re family, and at the end of the day these are the people who matter most.

So I will continue to open my kitchen to my daughter for as long as she will join me there. I’ll exercise my gratitude in this sacrificial act, and lead us into the holidays with hearts full of Thanksgiving….and bellies full of food.

 Your turn to share! 

As you head into Thanksgiving, are you practicing gratitude with your family? I would love to hear how you point your children toward gratefulness.

My Love of Travel and My Need to Stay Connected: The APC Mobile Power Pack

I have always loved traveling. My first flight, my parents love to explain, was to the Philippines shortly before my first birthday. It’s safe to say my desire to SEE EVERYTHING and EXPERIENCE EVERYTHING hasn’t changed, but the manner I tackle doing so most certainly has.

I travel for fun and for work. Sometimes both at the same time.

And just when I think (or tell my small people) I’m home for the next month, something changes and I’m off to the airport, to another hotel, to another adventure.

This past week, it was California. Yes, both work and fun. I saw people I adore, spoke to a group I admire and learned more about how I can make the world a better place.

Latism2014 JeannetteAna

Donate A Photo Delaney

When I travel like this – I’m online constantly: on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook, taking pictures and doing something extra important: Face-timing with my babies.

Delaney Mom Facetime

Fortunately, I’ve just partnered with Schneider Electric to join their #HolidayPower campaign….this means I’m able to check out a few of their products including the APC Mobile Power Pack.

Have you ever been in the midst of something crazy important: an email that must be sent, a picture you simply must capture or a call with your kids….and you see the dreaded: battery low pop-up? I have. And, there is nothing good about it. There IS, however, SO MUCH good about the APC Mobile Power Pack – beginning with the fact that it can charge anything that connects to a USB cable – your phone, tablet, e-reader or audio player and it has enough power to charge my phone twice. The Mobile Power Pack is smart – it shuts down when your device is fully charged in order to save additional power and the LED light lets you know just how much recharge power you have left….and you can use it anywhere.

APC Mobile Power Pack: Travel on the Go

For a long time now, I’ve been jealous of my fellow travelers who had a battery backup at the ready, whipping a mobile power pack out of their bags at conferences, restaurants or airports. Now? I’m the recharge-ready one.

This is especially good as I’m hopping on a flight to New York City today. There is much work to be done, many pictures to be snapped and definitely calls home to make. And I don’t want to miss a thing.

Good thing I’m charged and ready.

If I didn’t own one, this Mobile Power Pack would be high on my Christmas list. In fact, it IS high on my list….for a few people I know.

I’m excited to invite you to follow a me and a few of my friends during this #HolidayPower time as we happily try out the APC Mobile Power Pack and share our experiences with you.

HolidayPowerAPC_FINAL (1)

Disclosure: As previously mentioned, I’m working with Schneider Electric on their #HolidayPower campaign though all thoughts and opinions are, as always, mine and mine alone.

7 Cozy Sweaters (That Are Still Flattering)

7-cozy-sweaters

Streamlined Slouch: The Sweater Holy Grail

There is nothing like a cozy, slouchy sweater for a classic fall and winter look. But often it is hard to gauge online what will be adorably comfy while still nipping in our waists and offering a femme silhouette.  The goal is streamlined slouch, the perfect profile to skim over the body but also highlight lovely wrists, collarbones and pair elegantly with jeans, trousers and skirts.

Here are seven cozy sweater styles and shopping picks that we think will flatter your bod and keep you warm this winter.

Fitted Fair Isle 

This traditional sweater style is known for its patterns and often heavy weave. Choose a modern take on the Fair Isle with a closer cut and a modern length that ends right at your hip bones.

1. Fair Isle Wool Sweater Gap $50

Cable Knit with Aplomb (or a pom)

Cumbersome cable knits are the epitome of cozy, but can add bulk to your profile. We are in love with J. Crew Factory’s clever strategic cable stitching that nips in your sides and flatters arms. We also love the personality-filled pom-poms which add whimsy.

2. Pom-Pom Cable Knit J. Crew Factory $59

Flat Knit, Fab Fit

For an ultra flattering fit, choose a completely flat knit, like this honeycomb knit from Old Navy. It comes in 11 colors and costs less than rink admission plus skate rental.

3. Women’s Honeycomb-Knit Sweater Old Navy $24

Strategic Seams 

The ribbed stitching and triangle pattern will pull in your mid-section and highlight your chest and shoulders. A fabulously feminine take on the shaker knit that gives you a great figure.

4. Olive & Oak Apres Ski Sweater Piperlime $68

Marvelous Mohair

This girly look is always a classic, but can often be itchy to wear and widening in the mirror. H&M’s blend of mohair with nylon and acrylic makes for a soft, wearable texture. The close cut and the zipper detailing in the back make it sensationally slimming.

5. Mohair-Blend H&M $25

Not Yo Mama’s Turtleneck

Say ‘turtleneck’ and one often imagines their Great Aunt Tilly serving a casserole. Not this refined drop neck number. The cropped length and push-up sleeves combine to make a very modern take on the turtle.

6. RD Style Crop Turtleneck Sweater Piperlime $40

Pared-Down Poncho

A cowl neck negates your need for a scarf. The three-quarter length kimono sleeves make it positively cool.

7. Cowl Neck Poncho Forever 21 $23

Which one of our picks will YOU be wearing in sweater weather?

 

 

Latism, Raising Caring Kids, and Using Our Voices for Social Good

I’ve long believed in the power of teaching my children to be good citizens of the world, to help others, to find a way to make our world a better place.

With a motto of ‘Give Good, Get Good’ here on ExtraordinaryMommy established when the site began, I’ve tried to help my small people to live that by showing them how to lead with kindness. I recognize that they don’t always do as I say, but rather, they do as I do. This means it is imperative I lead by example, that I SHOW them how to help, how to be kind, how to give. As a family, we have made charitable giving a priority since Cooper and Delaney were tiny (and long before that) and have tried to get them as involved as impossible.

This weekend I was invited by Latism and Johnson & Johnson to add my voice to the social good conversation, sharing the stage with extraordinary women – Susan Can, the Director of Corporate Equity for J&J, Jill Sharp, a Corporate Trainer, Performance Coach and Keynote Speaker, Melissa Hillebrenner, the Director of GirlUp and my good friend Jeannette Kaplun who, is, in addition to being an amazing human being, a TV personality, a former journalist and the founder of Hispana Global.

Our panel discussion was titled, “Raising Caring Kids: How to Make Social Good A Family Value” and gave us all the opportunity to talk about how that works for us individually in our families, how we prioritize giving, and in so many ways how phenomenal it is for organizations like GirlUp to partner with families and teenage girls who do so and how they affect beautiful positive change. We recognized the strength in the spirit of kindness, how families can continue to encourage that trait and for J&J, how giving back is at the core of who they are as a company.

J&J Social Good Panel, Latism

There are so many ways that J&J makes an impact as their company philosophy has always been to make the world a better and healthier place. They have tremendous social programs – partnering with and supporting organizations like Save the Children and  USO, but this weekend at Latism we focused on one simple way they,  AND YOU – AND US – all of US, can make a big impact.

It’s called Donate a Photo. I’ve written about it before. My favorite thing about it? The simplicity – you don’t have to have money to donate or hours of time to volunteer. You need less than two minutes a day and a heart for helping others.

Donate A Photo Delaney

Donate A Photo.

It truly is a easy as it sounds. J&J’s Donate A Photo App (once you take the less than 5 minutes it requires to download the free app) allows you to donate one photo a day to a cause that touches you – giving a young girl in Guatemala school supplies (this is through GirlUp – the organization Melissa spoke about on our panel), help a deployed service member call home (the USO), help a child who has fled to the U.S (this is through the American Academy of Pediatrics), helping a newborn breath (through Save the Children) or more. Every time you donate a photo, J&J donates one dollar. One photo = $1…even if you don’t have that $1 in YOUR POCKET. The picture above is the one I donated just yesterday. As you can see, I chose to donate to give a young girl school supplies – that’s GirlUp, but today is a new day and I can choose a different cause or the same one if I’m so moved.

You know what I love? So often my heart is pulled in so many directions…I would love to help EVERYONE, but recognize the impossibility in that statement and yet Donate A Photo lets me do a slice of just that. I can help multiple causes that matter to me every week – or I can dedicate all of my photos to the ONE cause that I think needs my help the most. It is up to me. And to you.

At Latism – J&J made it easy for everyone to understand the app, the simplicity, the GIVING. They even took some pictures for us.

Donate A Photo J&J

Here’s what I noticed…. often times when I speak at events, especially events that have social media at their core, the audience spends much of their time with their heads down, alternating time on their phones, computers and tablets with the time they engage with the speakers – in this case Jeannette, Susan, Jill, Melissa and me. But is this case, this Latism audience was with us – they were looking up, paying attention, listening.

While I’ve never minded the balance of social media and audience engagement, in this case, I was beautifully aware of the power of my co-presenters and the topic we were discussing.

Giving is good. Teaching our kids to give? It is both powerful and extraordinary.

Let’s keep it going.

Disclosure:  I am proud to be an Ambassador for Social Good for Johnson and Johnson and thrilled to have the opportunity to have spoken to the amazing people at the Latism conference. Thank you for having me. As always, all thoughts and opinions shared on this site are mine and mine alone.

Raising Kids while Honoring Two Cultures

As the world is becoming both more diverse but culturally blended , which, in my opinion, is such a beautiful thing, we are all trying to learn to navigate having more than one culture in our homes. A few weeks ago I talked about blending an interracial, intercultural family. I worked on that post with my husband to make sure both sides were covered. Having an interracial/intercultural marriage is hard enough (although completely rewarding as well!) adding kids to the mix can make it tricky!

For example, my husband isn’t a very sentimental guy. Honoring traditions aren’t necessarily a priority for him. He has fond memories of things he did with his family when he was young, but only typically recalls them when I ask him. Therefore, it makes it difficult for me to implement Bahamian traditions because I’m not familiar with them and have no memory of them. But it is important to him that his kids know The Bahamas as more than a vacation island, so he’s started to make more of an effort. Together we’ve worked on some ways to integrate both cultures into our lives. Maybe a few of the things we do might help you too.

Raising Kids while Honoring Two Cultures

raising kids with two cultures

Celebrate both Holidays

I know this may sound overwhelming. As if Americans don’t have enough celebrating to do, let’s add another country’s celebrations to the list! But maybe, instead of adding, choose! Choose the holidays that are important to each parent/culture and celebrate those. Try to do it in the most authentic way possible even if you’re not living in that culture and/or don’t have the option to travel there. We’ll talk more about blending cultures during the holidays next time I’m here.

Discover together

I think it’s a fun idea to discover the culture together as a family. For example, my kids are mostly American because we don’t get to spend as much time in The Bahamas as we wish. My husband is able to talk about things from his childhood, including playing some very typical Bahamian songs for the kids. The kids sing with him and now it’s something they all enjoy together. It’s become a regular part of our family. Now they have a list of songs they constantly request, “Daddy, play ‘just cuz she’s fat’!” (Yes, that is a Bahamian song…)

Find Like Minds

I know it could be hard depending on what culture you celebrate and where you live, but try to find families who are learning to navigate this world as well. If they’re from the same culture as one parent, even better! But even if not, I bet there are still some things that each family can learn from the other about how to ensure both cultures are honored.

Food

Oh yes, food! It’s funny how something that is such a basic necessity of life can bring back so many memories and be attached to so many feelings all at once. I just returned from Eastern Europe and tasting the many cultural meals was one of my favorite parts. Food can be an amazing way to introduce your kids to the lesser represented culture. Bahamians fry a lot of fish and other items that can unfortunately only be found in The Bahamas. However, I do try, especially on special occasions, to cook some of my husband’s favorite dishes…specifically the meals that don’t require a food I can’t find close to home. He is beyond appreciative for my efforts, our kids are trying and experiencing something new and learning about dad’s culture as well. It’s a win for everyone. Except for maybe me, who has to do the dishes… (kidding!)

Movies

Kids love movies. As we discussed this when  I talked about teaching kids a second language. Movies and YouTube videos are high on the list. Children enjoy them and it barely registers that they are ‘learning’. Try to find kid’s movies that focus on one culture or the other. If possible, target the culture where you don’t live.The extra benefit is, kids will be entertained while mom or dad get to share a little piece of their childhood with their kids.

Traditions

Finally, and the the most obvious component, incorporate traditions from both sides. For Christmas, what’s the big meal you have? When do you open presents? What do you do during the day as a family? For Easter, do you look for eggs? Is there even an Easter basket? Presents or no? Find the traditions most important to the parents and incorporate them into your holidays. Your kids, without even knowing it, will be immersed in both cultures right away. As they grow up, a ‘combined’ culture will simply be how they celebrate and therefore, how they eventually how they teach their families

I think the most important part is that you try. Like I mentioned before, not one culture is better than the other, just different, and your kids growing up seeing that will benefit immensely! Interracial, intercultural families are a beautiful thing and lives blended with such rich traditions is a really neat experience! Embrace both sides of culture in your lives and it will carry over into your kids lives. I think they will appreciate it as they get older as it opens their eyes more to the world and the beauty there is in our differences.

Do you come from an intercultural or interracial relationship? What are some tips you have about sharing these cultures with your kids?