Tuesday Topic: Teaching our Kids about their Home Culture

How do you teach your kids about their home culture? What things do you feel are important for them to know? History and such are important, but what about American sports, cartoons, and other things that all American kids grow up with? Many experts talk about MKs and the stress that they feel upon re-entry as a result of feeling like outsiders in what is supposed to be their own culture. Have you given much thought to this? What things are you doing to help prepare your kids for when/if they move back to the US? Have you seen your kids struggle with this when back “home?”

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3 Responses to “Tuesday Topic: Teaching our Kids about their Home Culture”

  1. 1 Ashley L. June 2, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Our kids are young, so I haven’t felt like they have missed out too much on American cultural opportunities yet. One little recent thing is that our kids recently got some Cinderella, Snow White, and Spiderman books, and though they have never seen the shows (well, we just got Snow White), they still know who they are and like the idea of superheros and princesses. They are popular in Russia too though! The funny part for me is that though I know plenty of the American classic cultural things, I have little idea of what kids today are into, so even if there are things that are wholesome that I wouldn’t mind my kids knowing about, I myself don’t know what they are!

    I think one thing that we are planning to do is to make sure we plan our furloughs in ways that our kids get to experience significant holidays and other things that we would hope for them to experience. We’re hoping to spend our first Christmas at “home” in 5 years this winter since our kids are old enough to remember it (and since we just miss Christmas at home ourselves!), and I know that I hope our kids might get to play on an American sports team or two (baseball, etc.) when we spend extended times in the US.

    I also have to say that there are plenty of cultural things that I am HAPPY they are missing out on, although there are some not-so-great cultural things in Russia to make up for those things that they are “missing out” on.

  2. 2 Phyllis June 3, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Honestly, we haven’t really thought about it much. I guess I kind of feel like I grew up as an outsider, even in American culture (no TV, etc) myself, and I didn’t really suffer from it. 🙂 I’m trying to give our children a sense of groundedness in our own family culture, and a curiosity and flexibility that will carry them them through whatever cultural changes they go through. I hope that they’ll see our openness to learn about the culture that we live in now, and that they’ll be prepared to possibly have to learn in the same way about whatever culture they live in as adults, whether that’s the USA or another mission field.

  3. 3 Kara June 8, 2010 at 8:51 am

    We want our kids to be familiar with important holidays (like the 4th of July and Thanksgiving) which aren’t celebrated in Russia. On furloughs every other year, they get to stay up late to watch fireworks on the 4th. And we have our school-age son skip school on Thanksgiving and the Dec 25th.

    For preschool, I think some important parts of American culture are things like Mother Goose nursery rhymes, and other kids’ songs, like “London Bridge” and “Ring around the Rosy”. Honestly, I never remember things like that, but try to reinforce the ones that my mom and mother-in-law teach my kids! I have been embarrassed to discover my kids don’t know a lot of fairy tales (like Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalks, etc.)

    We also do Sonlight homeschooling read-alouds which give some of those classics. Now we’re in the 1st-2nd grade curriculum, which is World History. And for 3rd grade, we’ll do American History. From an academic and cultural standpoint, I think that will be very important for our kids.

    We also watch videos, like Little Bear, Little Einsteins, Thomas, Veggie Tales, and (I’m embarrassed to admit) almost all the Pixar films. Oh, and even more embarrassing, our kids watch Star Wars. It seems these, more than nursery rhymes, give our kids a touchpoint with American kids (who are also missing most of the classical stories, anyway).

    Overall, I think that we can’t give our kids both cultures without killing ourselves and overwhelming them. There has to be some lacking in American culture in order to spend time immersed in Russian culture! But some exposure to American stories, history and cartoons will help them connect with their fellow citizens in the future.

    One last point, is that my husband often accuses me of not being part of my own culture, since my parents hardly let me watch TV growing up. (He watched 10 hours a day in the summer and still knows all the shows by heart!) So it’s good for me to have the perspective that even if we lived in the States, my kids would intentionally miss a lot!

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