Balanced Melting Pot

Memories of an Immigrant Parent

In Culture, Parenting, Questions, Traditions on September 22, 2008 at 9:55 am

A while ago, I came across a well written article about what we, immigrant children, remember about our past. The author, Jaya Ramesh, talks about how initially her family’s memories consisted mostly of the country they left behind, but as time passed, they consisted mainly of their experiences as a new immigrant and those of their “home” country began to fade.

An important thing that I realized when I read this article is that I have not actively shared my childhood memories with my daughter. It’s so easy to reminisce with friends about how things used to be, but I forgot how important these stories are to keeping her connected to Haiti, even though she may not visit as often as I did. This is even more difficult for me because my memories are not of the country we left behind as they are for my parents. They consist of wonderful summers that seemed to go by too quickly and interesting customs (like getting all dressed up every Sunday, even when you didn’t have anywhere to go).

Now that I recognize the problem (they say that’s the first step, right 🙂 ), how do I go about sharing these stories in a way that they will be meaningful? It may be her age, but my daughter has quite a short attention span; especially for the abstract. I’d like to start the habit of not only telling her more about my childhood memories, but also presenting it in an interactive way so that they will become our memories.

Any suggestions?

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  1. For us, books and storytelling are a huge part of how we share our traditions. The library close to our house carries a really diverse selection of books about other cultures, and books in other languages, too. My husband spends a good deal of time telling stories and crafting books (made of construction paper and images downloaded from the Net) which tell traditional stories of his home country. Do you have photos? You can make a photobook that tells your story.
    I’d also say that you are probably sharing more than you think you are. Many decisions you make, from the foods you eat to the routines you keep, are culturally influenced. She’s absorbing, even without your explicit instructions.

  2. Thanks for stopping by today.

    Love your Rat vs Toothfairy post. Interesting…I never realized that there would be other cultural variances to the Toothfairy tradition.

  3. I’m sure you’re right, evenshine. Since I distinctly remember my family telling stories of how things used to be, I wanted to make sure I gave my daughter that glimpse, too. I like your idea about creating a photobook…

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