top of page
Search

Nurturing Your Child’s Cultural Identity: Tips for Parents (Blog #45)


By Guest blogger Sascha Ealey

 

I am African American, but my family roots are from Puerto Rico.  As adolescents navigate the challenges of high school, maintaining a strong cultural identity becomes crucial for their overall well-being. Since my daughter was very young, it has been very important to me that she understand that she is both Black and Spanish because I believe it will help her navigate life. She will be grounded in her identity the more she knows where she comes from.  I have sought to nurture her cultural identities since she was young.  Through the years, I am seeing more and more the benefits of these efforts.  Here are some cultural-engagement parenting tips that I think can support parents who wish to preserve and celebrate their cultural roots.

 

Have Open Dialogue


Foremost to your efforts, establish open communication with your child very early. Encourage them to share their thoughts, experiences, and questions about their cultural background. This creates a foundation for understanding. Establish a supportive environment where your child feels comfortable discussing their cultural background. For example, my daughter had questions like “where did my family come from?”, “what makes our culture unique or similar to other Spanish countries”, and “what do I enjoy most about our cultural traditions.” We sat in a quiet space and explored these open-ended questions.

 

Celebrate Your Culture

 

I emphasize Black History not just for the month of February, but all throughout the year. I share stories with my daughter of prominent Black trailblazers such as writers Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes, and civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  I also share with her important trailblazers hailing from Puerto Rico, such as Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor, women’s rights activist Helen Rodriguez Trias, legendary performer Rita Moreno, and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda whose parents immigrated to the United States from Puerto Rico.   I talk to her about their achievements and contributions to inspire pride and awareness. I want her to know that she too can do anything that she sets her mind on, and it doesn’t matter about the color of her skin. From historical figures to contemporary leaders, showcasing success stories reinforces a sense of possibility and pride. I encourage my daughter to read books by Black and Puerto Rican authors, to explore Black and Spanish art, music, and cinema. Exposure to one’s culture enhances understanding and appreciation.

 

Educate and Celebrate

 

Provide your child with knowledge about their cultural history. Celebrate important cultural milestones and achievements. My daughter is an artist, so I started introducing her to Frida Kahlo’s artwork (she is big during Spanish Heritage Month). She was definitely an icon of female creativity.

 

Celebrate Family Traditions at Home

 

Integrate cultural practices into daily life at home. Share stories, cook meals, and celebrate festivities together, fostering strong connection to heritage. Since she was young, I shared with  my daughter stories about how I sat in the kitchen with my great-grandmother and watched her knead dough and place it in hot oil to make tasty Puerto Rican beef empanadas. She made food with loving hands and it made me appreciate food and the culture. I learned that the kitchen isn't just for cooking, but also for making memories. I want my daughter to have that same experience, which is why she now watches and helps when adults are making dinner.

 

Encourage Language Learning

 

Support language learning. Proficiency in the language of the adolescent’s cultural heritage enhances their connection to traditions and facilitates communication with the extended family. Building relationships with others who share their background can provide a sense of belonging. My daughter takes up Spanish class in school and I go over Spanish words with her at home.

 

Participate in Cultural Events

 

Exposure to different aspects of their heritage outside of the home reinforces the importance of cultural identity. Explore clubs, sports, or art programs that align with your cultural interests. This not only enhances their skills, but also fosters a sense of pride in their unique identity. My daughter used to be a dancer and took up Afrobeats, Hip-Hop, and Jazz. It kept her in touch with her roots.

 

Address Stereotypes and Challenges

 

Provide your child with tools to navigate challenges related to cultural identity, such as addressing stereotypes or misconceptions. Encourage resilience and self-advocacy. This instills a sense of social responsibility, and it fosters a commitment to positive change. In the dynamic environment of high school, helping your child maintain a strong cultural identity involves a combination of communication, engagement, and celebration. By actively participating in their journey and providing a supportive environment, you empower your child to navigate high school with a strong sense of self and cultural pride. By embracing their heritage and navigating challenges with resilience, parents can empower their children to thrive in their unique identity.

 

*Guest blogger Sascha Ealey is an avid storyteller and has been writing since she was seven years old! Her recent memoir, Dry Bones, is available on Amazon.  Sascha received her B.A. in English from St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, New York.  The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author.  

66 views

Comments


bottom of page