Balanced Melting Pot

Archive for August, 2008|Monthly archive page

How well do we know our children?

In Parenting, Questions on August 25, 2008 at 11:18 am

I recently came across this article written by a gentleman named Mwangi who immigrated from Africa to Australia. As usual, I’m pleasantly surprised to see that even though our cultures  and host countries are different, the stuggles that we face as immigrants are similar. Below are his suggestions for immigrant parents raising children.

4 Tips on Parenting….from a Child of a Parent


Be Aware of Your Surroundings: I think this is quite possibly the most important tip I will share. The way Western societies work, immigrant families usually spend very little time in a given day, together. During these gaps from each other, we as young, fresh minds are bombarded by the most sophisticated marketing and propaganda campaigns in human history. As a result, whatever message they chose to impart in us, by default, is much more powerful than any words of advice you may want to share with us. If they tell us that we will gain worth in society by listening and heeding the words of hardcore gangsta rap artists, then we are more likely to listen to the marketing team at Interscope records than we are to the gentle (sometimes harsh) pleas of a caring parent who we only see two hours a day. For that reason, be extremely aware of what your child allows into his mind through the media, Internet and his peer groups. Which leads me to tip number two:


Peer Groups: Observe your child’s peer group and you can tell what he does with majority of his time and probably what he will do in future. Do you like where his peer group is going? If not, you’d best find a way to get him into a better peer group.


Be Aware of the Culture of the Land: As a result of the huge propaganda campaign a lot of Western cultural norms are now ours. Gone are a lot of our traditional beliefs in favour of what a lot of us (not myself) consider to be the “more modern” Western alternatives. So that means that a lot of us have very different standards when it comes to sexuality, the relationship between adults and children, our place in society, God and pretty much everything you can think of. If you find yourself continually butting heads with your child, look across the hedge and look at how the Australian child relates to their parents, therein may be the answer.


We Are Young and Opportunities are Everywhere: These two are very separate points worthy of their own discussion but I will bunch them together because in my mind’s eye they’re as connected as the Siamese. The reason I did not bat an eyelash when I left school and am extremely confident in pursuing my fortune sharing knowledge on the world wide web is because in my heart of hearts I know two things. One, I am young, full of energy and as a result of growing up in two cultures, very resourceful. Two, even if all my ventures fail miserably, I live in a welfare society that has safety nets galore. I can simply live of the dole while I write my second business plan which I will submit to the government bureaucracies that fund and support small business and who knows maybe I might make my fortune on the second or third or fourth time that I commit to a project I am passionate about. Bottom line: failure doesn’t mean I will starve. So relax, we are here. Push comes to shove, I’ll be fine.


Are you already following any of these tips? If so, what are some situations in which you have incorporated them? Do you disagree with any of these tips? If so, why? Can you relate to any of these issues from your own childhood?

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In Parenting, Questions on August 18, 2008 at 9:36 am

Whether we realize it or not, there are many social norms that have been ingrained in us by our parents. This is a multi-faceted topic, so to begin I want to talk more about the  activities in which we consider it normal for our children to participate.

The first thing that comes to my mind is sleepovers. Growing up, I was always allowed to have friends spend the night at my house, but was rarely allowed to sleep at theirs’. My mother’s rationale was that she did not know what kind of parents these other people were. Of course I thought this was absurd at the time and “life just wasn’t fair”, but now having children of my own, well…

There are many pasttimes for children that are simply not universally accepted among cultures. The hardest part for parents is that deep down you want your children to enjoy their childhood and at the same time there needs to be a level of comfort with what you allow them to do.

What are some of the American activities in which you refuse to let your children participate (please share how they are viewed in your culture)? Which are the ones that you have learned to accept?

How do you try to teach your children pasttimes from your culture of origin. I’m still trying to figure out how to teach my daughter the intriguing game of osle, which is the Haitian form of jax; only with the joint bones of a goat (it sounds a lot stranger in English 😛 ).

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Rites of Passage

In Parenting, Questions, Religion on August 11, 2008 at 11:08 am

This topic is actually my inspiration for starting this blog. Fresh off the heels of baptizing our son, I kept asking myself, “why is this such a big deal” and “what is it with all the rules?” All around me was this buzz attempting to direct me to “do things right” by dictating when it should happen, who should be chosen as the godparents, what the duties of the godparents are, etc., etc.

Now, I have always been one to rebel against too many rules, but as usual I put my stubborness aside (as I also did for my daughter) and attempted to compromise whenever possible. Throughout that process, I also came to realize that when it comes to rites of passage, I prefer to write my own rules. Only then do I truly feel the importance of, and connection to the ritual.

How much does cultural pressure play a role in your choices of rites of passage for your children? How closely tied are your culture and religion? And, at what point do you let your children make their own religious choices?

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