Will my child be a cultural reject? Will she spend her life frustrated that she can’t quite identify with any culture 100%? As half Filipino and half Swedish, is she doomed to a life of frustration and rejection?
Even today you don’t have to go far to find someone that will lecture you for getting married to someone of another ethnicity and culture. One of the favored arguments is always: “Think about your poor halfer offspring. Nobody will accept them. They’ll never fit in!”
Typically this sort of talk comes from well meaning types. They say that their only motivation is to save you and your future offspring the hassle and pain of not being welcomed into their outdated ideal of bland, clueless monoculturalism.
They’ll throw something in about how you can never know how things will go with x cultural group. I always used to considered this to be useless drivel from people who are too old to bother with facing reality. But that’s not always true. The more I travel, the more I see that small-minded ethnic tribalism definitely is a thing, even with young people. As much as it is naive to think that two or more cultures and ethnicities cannot happily co-exist in a relationship or in one human being for that matter, it is equally naive to think that resistance to such a mix is a thing of the past.
So as I think about our soon-to-arrive Swedepina I feel the need to remind myself of the upside of having a plural cultural identity. For starters, understanding multiple cultures is a massive leg up. Kids that speak two or more languages and that are comfortable living in more than one country have a major advantage over peers that are restricted to one place and culture.
Kids that are used to interacting with family and friends of multiple ethnicities learn to see people as people before they see the otherness of a race or culture distinct from their own.
Also (and this is obviously super subjective) I think halfers make the cutest kids. They tend to get the best of both worlds. I know there are exceptions but I really think mixes turn out as greater than the sum of their parts.
Ultimately, of course, life is what you will it to be. So I want to raise Journie to do her part to help create a world where there is less divison, where “us and them” thinking isn’t the order of the day.
Let me open this up to you the reader. What do you think about raising mixed kids? Any words of advice? Tools, tricks, apps or sites to recommend? I’m all ears…
7 thoughts on “Having a halfer (my baby’s officially Swedepina)”
When both families are loving, and fully accepting of their child’s spouse, and the grandkids, it makes a big impact. Kids can definitely see the strain when it’s not genuine.
Otherwise, occasional doses of (light) reality are good, so it’s not such a shock later on. In other words, keep away from folks who will openly denigrate her personage, but allow her to see that bias exists and could affect her. Blissfully unaware may be blissful, but it can also be harmful, in the sense that the effects of prejudice don’t disappear when you don’t see them.
Eventually, she will decide how she wants to identify, and maybe she will change her mind about that multiple times. But she’ll always be loved, and believe me, leaning on that makes everything better.
Thanks a lot for the highly insightful comment, Jeanette! Very balanced…
I certainly think that the cutest kids are the ones of mixed races, and also I am bias about it, of course. But before having kids I used to observe how beautiful mix race people are, as they tent to get the best features of both sides.
It is not easy, believe you me, as truly they are not fully here, nor there, and some people can happily point that out to your kids. Some in a very positive light noting the beauty of it, and some in a very nasty negative way.
The reality is that our mixed kids are here and will be here, so certainly nurturing is needed. They are beautiful in our eyes and will get from us a healthy amount of support and guidance on how to deal with this cruel world.
But this is a plus in my eyes, because it makes for strong resilient kids.
Could say more, but already wrote too much…
Jair! I enjoyed your thoughts! I am glad that you are several steps ahead of me on the cross-cultural-marriage-with-kids front. That way I can get all your best practice tips right here in Bangkok!
Being of mixed heritage myself there was definitely a tendency to feel a little isolated at times. I am certainly not white and have never been accepted as such but I’ve never been quite “black enough” for the black community either. When comments like “your not REALLY black” are often thrown at you it does leave you wondering as a kid, well then “what am I?” As I got older though I realised its more “who am I” that is important. I have been lucky enough to have an amazing family, with parents that have shown me and my siblings that we are people with parents who love each other immensely and stuck together DESPITE what people said they would have to endure because of having mixed kids. Parents who exposed me to not only their cultures and beliefs but to the wider world and beliefs/cultures of others. I think you are about to do that same thing, and I think this will make your daughter an Absolutly AMAZING person who will never be defined by “what” she is.
Check out /r/hapas for some eye opening info.
Your children will face issues. I am also half ‘Filipino and face lots of identity issues and discrimination. You should read up about half Asian issues if you truly love and want your child to succeed in life.