The identity that we give our children has so many aspects to it that require fulfillment. I feel that children always long to know their heritage, culture, and religion. The more they know, the more contentment and inner satisfaction they will get. Having knowledge of their history gives them a sense of pride and belonging. Many of us may have seen children going through different stages when it comes to accepting their identity. However, when they get older, they begin to feel an emptiness if they do not know where their history began. A strong self-image and self-esteem is built through a deep understanding of everything that makes up their identity.
When children first mingle with the outside world in the west, the feel hesitation and uncertainty regarding them being accepted by others. They naturally seek validation. Therefore, children who learn their home language tend to prefer English as they start school because it makes them fit in. This is where parents usually lose motivation to continue teaching home language.
Working with children has shown me that children eventually come around, but it requires persistence on the family’s part. Even when our children start to prefer other cultures and other languages, we should keep reinforcing our own. After the initial rejection, they will slowly begin to understand and accept their own culture, religion, and language. It takes time to build the confidence to be loud and proud about our identity. So, the more our children observe us being proud and confident, the more they will learn to follow. It means we will have some research to do if we have not already =)
How can we fill in the void in children’s cultural identity?
*Let’s teach them about back home (where they or their family members were born)
*Teach them the positives of that place (how it looks, popular food, clothes, places)
*Talk about the positive achievements and changes the country has made.
*Limit media exposure, which can teach myths or a false image
*Talk about the languages spoken in that region
*share good books, music, poetry, impactful movies, and tv shows that the country has produced
*Talk about famous people who have made a difference in the world from their country
Our efforts will foster curiosity and they will want to learn more. As they grow older, the base we create will allow them to expand their cultural and religious knowledge on their own. The main point to take away from here is that do not give up. It may seem difficult in the beginning, but I assure you, your children will thank you later.