Children with two different cultural backgrounds can sometimes feel as if they live in “two different worlds.” When they visit one side of the family they may feel like they do not quite fit in, and then have the same feeling when visiting the other side of the family. Sometimes people feel like they have to reject one culture to belong to the other, which is then rejecting a part of themselves, suggesting something is wrong. This adapted excerpt from the Reader’s Note in Magination Press book, The Heart of Mi Familia, by Carrie Lara, PsyD, provides insight into the bicultural experience and strategies for parents and caregivers to help children appreciate and celebrate their cultures, the cultures of others, and the beautiful diversity of life experiences. Research on cultural identity and immigrant populations has found that people end up in either a state of acculturation, assimilation, or marginalization. In the attempt to join and find belonging, there can be marginalization and rejection of the dominant culture, or assimilation which leads to a loss of the home culture. Acculturation is the balance of both, being able to adapt within the dominant culture for “survival,” but also maintain a connection to the home culture. This is the healthy balance that we would want people to have. However, children who have been able to develop this healthy balance can still have a feeling and experience of not quite belonging to one culture or another. For example, when visiting family where another language is spoken, relatives might note a child speaks the language with a different accent, but when they go home and speak the local language there, people may remark on an accent as well, making the child feel like an outsider in both places. Here are some ways to help your child celebrate and appreciate their cultures and feel at home in their experience. Acknowledge differences For children, as little social scientists, making observations of their surroundings and experiences every day is part of their learning and development process. When your child observes similarities and differences, acknowledge their observation and help them to learn and understand. Accept that there are differences, and not only note the differences exist, but discuss why. Is it because of religion? Is it because of regional food? This, in effect, discourages any developing thoughts or feelings that a difference in culture is wrong. It gives meaning. Support exploration Children start to identify with their own cultural/racial identity around the age of 3-4. This identification comes from the interactions they have with their family members, teachers, and community. By age 7-9, children are more aware of the group dynamics around culture and race. This includes the histories of their own culture and how their culture is similar, different, or a combination of other cultures. This is even more important for children of multiple cultural histories. A child may, at certain times in their life, feel more identified with one or the other culture in their background. ThisRead More
About Carrie Lara, PsyDCarrie Lara, PsyD, has been working with children in various community mental health settings since 2005. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology through Alliant International University of San Francisco in 2009. Her specializations are working with children and families, child and human development, foster and adoptive youth, learning disabilities and special education, attachment-based play therapy, and trauma. Dr. Lara has had the opportunity to work in different socioeconomic and diverse communities professionally, and personally has a bi-cultural family. Both of these factors have deepened her understanding of the development of cultural identity and its importance. It is her hope that this book supports families having conversations about cultural identity during this very early stage in a child's development of a sense of self.
In my home, two worlds become one. My family is a mix of dos culturas, I am bicultural. Mommy's family came from Europe, a long time ago. Daddy's family came from Central America when he was a little boy. There are lots of differences between my mommy’s culture and my daddy’s cultura, but lots of things are the same too. Visiting both her grandma and her abeula, a little girl creates a birthday present for her brother that celebrates both sides of her family and all generations. The Heart of Mi Familia is a follow-up book to Marvelous Maravilloso: Me and My Beautiful Family. Hear author Carrie Lara, PsyD, read The Heart of Mi Familia aloud and offer some ideas for activities to explore family identity.Read More
...colors make the world interesting and beautiful...People are different colors, too. Colors are part of us. Our colors make us beautiful and unique. Families, like people, come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Follow a girl as she explores all the colors around her, including the beautiful colors of her family. Hear author, Carrie Lara, PsyD, read Marvelous Maravilloso: Me and My Beautiful Family aloud, and get ideas for easy self-portrait activities. Read a post about Marvelous Maravilloso and some of Magination Press's other books that feature Latinx families here.Read More