Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Brotha From Anotha Motha...

Over the past few years I have been noticing that my kids, Momo and Mango, are not really in-touch with an important part of their identities. When we went to Olivera Street the other day I was all too aware that my kids are in need of a cultural identity intervention.

You see, I'm not sure if I have ever mentioned this before, but we are a blended family, and with the blend, we have gained a lot and lost a bit...

He Who Must Not Be Named (HWMNBN) and I met about six and a half years ago when Momo was 5 years old and Mango was 7. I was a young, single mother to Momo and HWMNBN was a young, single dad to Mango. The kids were young, Momo and Mango had virtually no contact with their other biological parents and HWMNBN and I have the same ethnic/cultural backgrounds (Half Japanese/Half Irish American) so when we got serious, the blending of the family was quite smooth.

Here is one of my favorite pictures of our wedding... Momo and Mango get along quite well and (from what I am told about siblings who are close in age) their infighting is quite normal. They rarely refer to each other as step siblings, but a few months back they came up with funny nicknames for each other...Momo calls Mango her "Brotha from anotha motha" and Mango calls Momo his "Sista from anotha mista"'s actually quite funny.
Anyways, back to my point.
With our very homogeneous blending of families, our kids have really solidified their Japanses American identities and because both of them have another biological parent who they have no contact with & who is Latino, they have almost completely lost that part of their identities.

In fact, I think they are culturally retarded when it comes to this part of themselves. .
As a teacher who discusses cultural identity development in almost every course I teach, I really have been thinking about this for a while, and as we walked around the very quaint and historically interesting Olivera Street, I was sad that my kids are completely out of touch with this rich history and culture that also belongs to them. I realize that Olivera Street isn't the answer...despite being a cool place to explore some of the history of Los Angeles, it is kind of a tourist trap.
But, nevertheless, it still made me sad that as we walked around, I was made more and more aware of how out of touch my kids are...My heart hurt as we passed a beautiful Aztec costume, Momo said: "Hey mom, look at that cool Egyptian stuff" and when I told her that it was Aztec she said: "What's that?" And I cringed everytime I heard Mango (a child who once spoke Spanish) butcher simple Spanish words like Calle, Olivera or Historico...I guess what I am trying to say is that I want to do my best to help my children gain better awareness of their cultural backgrounds. I want to help them develop wholey and securely in the many facets of themselves.

Maybe that will be on the top of my list of New Year's Resolutions...

To make a more concious effort to help my kids learn about and accept the many diverse aspects of their identities.

Yeah, I like that...

Happy New Year---Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu---Feliz Año Nuevo


  1. I'm happy to hear your awareness. So many times parents seem to forget that those pieces of a child need to be nurtured. They almost seem to think it is something a child will just "know." I'm absolutely in favor of marrying whoever plucks the heart strings, with no concern about ethnic heritage. But in doing so, it is important to preserve that cultural heritage. MY DIL is Mexican, and with my son, has done a marvelous of keeping my granddaughter in touch with her Mexican traditions.

    Actually, there are few of us who are not mixed. I'm German/Dutch/Scotch/Irish/English with a little Native American thrown in. I'm only vaguely in touch with those ethnic traditions. I've spent time in recent years trying to find out all I can about those cultures and integrate some practices and foods, etc., into my life, but it is hard now. What you are doing by keeping your children connected is absolutely wonderful. Good work. Keep it up!

  2. Hey Momo Mama! I am finally getting back to all things I love, including blogging and wanted to check out your blog right away. We do have much in common! I still have a lot to read up on, but will be doing so inbetween feedings. :) Till then... Happy New Year!

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