We live in a world where we have an opportunity to explore other cultures and countries (pre-/post-COVID). This has left a beautiful result of diverse families and children with multiple nationalities or ethnicities. These families have the opportunity to raise children as dynamic individuals with the privilege of exploring different cultures from their parents. However, because of the different cultures, it can be difficult at first to find a parenting style that may be suitable for the family. Both parents have to be willing to embrace an alternative parenting style originating from a completely different culture. There may be moments where one hesitates or completely disagree with a certain cultural practice. These moments can be testing for a parent couple as it also is a display of moving away from being an individual to working as a couple.
When a couple first becomes parents, they are already stressed with the notion of moving from a pair to a family triad. The added stress of a first-born can put a lot of pressure on the marriage or the partnership and lead to less satisfaction within the relationship. For couples of different nationalities, the change can be even more dramatic. Initially, to function well as a couple, any disagreements with fundamental values would have been discussed and negotiated beforehand. However, when introducing a child, incorporating methods of raising a child can be a spark for conflict if the compromises made initially do not fit the triad dynamic or if cultural differences were not talked about before.
Something to keep in mind is that conflict and being tested through parenting is something that all couples experience, regardless where you are from. It all depends on how both parents want to solve their conflict. In this case, the first thing to keep in mind is determining whether or not you and your partner are in this together – is there determination to confront these challenges from both sides? The motivation to be parents and to be a couple is a two-way relationship and requires effort from all parties. Secondly, it is important to make room to understand the different cultural perspectives of each partner when parenting to avoid misunderstandings. Listening to the practices your partner was taught or want to use is also a step to showing curiosity, compassion, and open-mindedness. Educating yourself or with a professional on recognising how much culture has had an impact on the individual can be beneficial to understanding the couple. Thirdly, explore how to create your own culture together. By encouraging the appreciation for both cultures, you are invited to form a new one that incorporates aspects of both sides (e.g. language lessons, cultural activities, cultural traditions). You have the freedom to pick and choose what works for both of you, and consequently both feel valued and comfortable.
As a child of parents from two different cultures, I would never trade my life and my heritage for anything else. There have been moments where I would question my identity and wonder “Who am I?”, “Where am I from?”, “Where do I belong?”. But with supportive and open parents, through their stories they have encouraged me to define my own self, whereby I continue to learn more about myself and my multiculturalism in the lens of who I want to be. The experiences I have had being enriched with two completely contrasting cultures has shaped me to be the unique individual I am today, and I thank my parents every day for gifting me this opportunity.
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Chloé Möller currently has a Masters in Clinical Psychology and is further pursuing another in Work & Organisational Psychology, whilst being an intern at Willingness
Crippen, C., & Brew, L. (2007). Intercultural Parenting and the Transcultural Family: A Literature Review. The Family Journal, 15(2), 107-115. https://doi.org/10.1177/1066480706297783