Today’s guest post is brought to us by Joan and indeed she raises pertinent thoughts for those of us who are raising children outside our home countries.
How do we maintain our heritage while living in the diaspora? How do we pass on our culture to these younger generations even as they also embrace those of the places where they are being raised?
Please feel free to contribute to the discussion with your constructive feedback.
If you are interested in guest posting, you can check out this link.
For many parents, raising children in the Diaspora especially the US is such a daunting task. The reasons are many; however, cultural difference is a leading factor.
The African culture is far different from that in the Western world. This presents a serious dilemma for parents. Those that can afford or have got a proper structure back home usually send their children back home so that they learn the African values and mingle with the people. However, what can the rest do in order to keep their children more of Africans?
One thing to consider is that children learn by observing, so what are you showing them? What are you saying to them? That matters a lot from the word go. You can’t be perfect as the cultures around will obviously rub off on you in one way or another, but they will not completely change you.
As you raise your children, this is the best time to relish the African in you, hence pass it on to your babies. Besides that, children are resilient, they will know when a mistake is made, and that is if you care to acknowledge your mistakes before them.
They will also know when you are living a hypocritical life. That is when they will go out there to look for what is real. There is no harm in acknowledging your mistakes, for, through them, we learn. It also teaches them a lot such as the beauty of humility.
Another thing to note is that children are affected by nature (biologically and spiritually acquired traits) and nurture (traits acquired from surroundings).
Therefore, it would be great to surround your children with people that will positively impact their lives. In addition to that, take them to African churches, and then make it a point to make friends of families that cherish the same values as you do. That will in a long way help with raising a child that will give you joy.
While at church, encourage your children to join the various church groups, more so those that help them have a deeper understanding of their heritage. Besides that, when your little ones are deeply absorbed in Christianity from the get-go, their roots are more firmly established than when they start doing it at an earlier stage.
You could also enforce a policy where only the local language is spoken within the house. This is not as easy as it sounds more so when the children enrol into school.
However, even if they just have a basic comprehension, it is better than nothing at all. If it is possible, you could also try and live in communities that resonate with your specific African background.
You may not be able to send your children back home for extended stays for one reason or another. However, you could organise a trip for them back home once in their youth life. This will help them have a deeper understanding and appreciation of their culture, society and country on a whole. They will also get a chance to meet their extended family and better their local language prowess.
In as much as it is not easy to raise your child in the Diaspora, not all hope is lost.
P.S. You can connect with Joan, the guest author on her blog Family, parenting and beyond where she shares her stories, aspirations, tips on parenting, family life and much more.
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I absolutely love this book of poems. My favorites are “Love Rations” (for those who love to give the silent treatment) and “Beggars Supper” (which definitely pulls at the heart strings). Two thumbs up!!