I’m by no means an expert on giving advice on how to raise a multicultural family. I want to preface by saying there is no one way of doing this but what I do know is that there are a few things that can help: empathy, compassion, and a true desire to listen & learn. I’m here to share my stories and experiences rather than offer up any type of advice or suggestions because I have learned that it is in the conversations and experiences we share that allow us to learn rather than being told that one way is the right way to raise a family.
There is so much diversity in families and I want my own children to be exposed to the multitude of ways a family can look. Whether we are talking about race, ethnicity, nationality, socio-economic status, immigration status, faith, or culture; I want my own children to have an appreciation of the many ways and things that make up a family.
Expose to diversity.
I am Filipina American, born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. My husband is Jewish American and originally from Dayton, OH. Together we have two little ones that we are exposing to both faiths and cultures. We are also a multigenerational family because my parents live with us and play a huge role in raising our children. Before marrying my husband, almost three years ago now, I was a single mom. I spent a lot of time showing my daughter, even though she was very young, that not all families have a mom and a dad and families can look all kinds of different ways.
I am intentional about buying and reading books to my children that have diversity in the characters and the families. Some of my favorites are books that celebrate diverse families and celebrate community. We love “One Family” by George Shannon that shows a multitiude of families: multigenerational, interracial, kids who don’t resemble their parents, and a celebration of community. I love reading books to my children that expose them to different cultural celebrations and holidays beyond the ones we celebrate: Christmas and Hanukkah. We have books that teach us about Eid and Ramadan, Holi Festival, Diwali. Although we do not celebrate these holidays, I want my kids to know that there are so many beautiful rituals, traditions, and holidays that other cultures celebrate.
Teach your ancestry.
My children and my parents are my inspiration for exploring my roots. I want my children to know that they are Filipino American as well as half Jewish and white. I believe it is my responsibility as their mother to help pass along the stories of their ancestors down to them so that they may understand their roots. It is also just as much about my parents and honoring their legacy, who they are, and the country that they came from.
There is so much beauty and richness to Filipino culture. To be Filipino is to almost be a mystery because we don’t really fit into any category. We are Asian Americans but our culture is so heavily influenced by the 300 years of Spanish colonization. I read the book the “Latinos of Asia” by Anthony Christian Ocampo and that book helped me understand how Filipinos are the invisible Asians.
We have traveled to the Philippines a couple times now with my oldest and I love how much we can experience as a family when we travel outside of our home. However, I am also cautious to use that learning experience to appreciate the beauty of different cultures and to avoid defining families and their experiences as “other” to avoid implying that the American way, or that our way is the right way.
I started a blog and Instagram (@urbanohana) to begin documenting my family’s adventures. I want to help educate others on what it means to be Filipino American and to help shift the narrative of American history to include the many amazing contributions of Filipinos to this country. I want to share the beauty of our culture through my stories and through the family programming I am hosting.
-Upcoming Special Event-
June 27 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Conversations & Cocktails (at Storefront Events in Chicago, IL):
Join Ria Pretekin & WE Events to discuss Raising Cultural Awareness in Families. An amazing panelist of women in Chicago will share stories and start the conversation about race, culture, and raising cultural awareness with intentionality. Their hope is to build a positive awareness of diversity in the community. If you are interested in an evening of discussion, journaling, and cocktails, find out more about the Conversations & Cocktails event here.
This was a featured article written by Ria Pretekin.
Ria is an educator, counselor, and coach. She is a Filipina American mom of two, originally from Los Angeles and currently lives in the city of Chicago. Ria’s passion is to create community through cultural awareness. She is helping her children discover their Filipino American identities through adventures and storytelling. You can follow along with her family’s adventures at: https://www.instagram.com/