Balanced Melting Pot

I have many aunts and uncles…

In Culture, Parenting, Questions, Traditions on October 6, 2008 at 10:21 am

Not really.

I was fortunate to grow up with many aunts and uncles, but not because my parents had a lot of siblings (although I do have five uncles on my mother’s side), but because all adults were referred to as Aunt So-and-so and Uncle So-and-so; whether or not they were related to my parents.

When I think back, this was actually the first Haitian cultural norm that I attempted to reject. When I was six years-old, I even went as far as attempting to call my uncle by his first name. After letting it slide a couple times, he quickly reminded me that he was my uncle and I needed to put that word before saying his name. After that, I simply accepted this tradition and avoided calling any non-Haitian adults by their names.

All was well with my greeting skills until my daughter came along. Without realizing it, I would refer to adults by their first names around her (i.e. “Go give Susie a hug” as opposed to “Go give Aunt Susie a hug”). Then one day, a friend of mine politely corrected me by saying “You’re going to make her never call me Auntie”. I immediately had a flashback of my conversation with my uncle and understood.  I am now much more cognizant of this sign of respect that Haitians have to come expect.

So, if your culture has the same norm do you expect your children to observe it here in the US? Is the expectation only for adults with the same cultural background? If so, how do you help your child(ren) differentiate?

Also, if your culture has another way to show respect when addressing adults, please share.

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