The Amazing Journey of Raising Bicultural Kids

When I told my kids we were going to see a castle in Mexico City this summer they couldn’t believe it. The city they’ve visited numerous times held another incredible adventure for them.

After living abroad for over 13 years, I feel fortunate to be able to return to my country each year, in addition to visit family, to rediscover my city as a tourist. Every time I land in Mexico I feel immediately at home hearing the baggage handler asking me if I need help, everything is so familiar and close to my heart it feels as if I never left.

It’s that familiarity that forces me to do everything in my power so that my children are not only bilingual but also bicultural. I want Mexico to feel like home when they arrive, that, to me, is the essence of biculturalism. And besides knowing and appreciating the culture, the gastronomy and the Mexican traditions, that they feel proud of them. I want them to understand that even though they were born in the U.S. they are also Mexican.

Language plays a huge role in getting them to be truly bicultural; being able to communicate in Spanish is essential. It took a lot of effort but I can proudly say that my kids speak Spanish perfectly. Here are a few tips that worked for me.

Since they are born speak to them only in Spanish.

When your kids are about to enter preschool, don’t worry about them knowing English. I promise you that they’ll learn how to communicate in a new language faster than you can imagine without you having to teach it to them.

The last tip and to me the most important one, is not letting your kids reply to you in English. I see this all the time, moms speaking to their kids in Spanish but they reply in English. What this does in the long run is that the kids will understand Spanish but they won’t speak it. Try not to let this happen, if you’re firm and consistently correct them, it’s doable. I promise it’s really worth it, give your kids the gift of knowing 100% of a second language.

As a mother to bicultural kids, it’s important to not forget the other side of the coin. That means nurturing their American side too. That’s why we celebrate American customs like singing ‘God Bless America’ during baseball games and having Thanksgiving dinner, which have now become part of our family traditions.

Someone I love dearly once told me that the fact that my kids have two nationalities, doesn’t mean they have to choose just one, on the contrary, all their nationalities keep summing up attributes to who they are as persons, and I totally agree with her.

So, in conclusion, Yo Mariana thinks that everyone who has kids with multiple nationalities, must try not to only make them feel proud about them but also feel part and belong to all of them. They shouldn’t feel the need to choose between them. The sum of all of them makes them who they are! And that way we’ll see them grow into tolerant and inclusive adults.

Here are some pictures of our visit to the Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City. I hadn’t been there in a long time and its beauty impressed me again. All its history, the magnificent views from its balconies and its amazing gardens, made the trip with my kids worthwhile.

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