Sometimes it’s worth just briefly pausing to think about what we have done with all our time. The book project about bicultural families started at the end of April 2014. More than 200 miles, a huge amount of anecdotes, loads of laughter, one puncture and a long walk home, several nuts, home-made bread slices and other nibbles later, I am amazed about where this book brought me to. With the parents I traveled to Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, China, (…), Israel, the United States, the Netherlands, Chile and of course France, Germany, Spain and finally Britain, Wales and Ireland!
Thanks to all the Mums and Dads for their time and kindness of sharing their experience with me, giving me a glance of their adventures between their cultures with their kids. I feel honoured to write about them – and with them – these pages full of life, ideas and perspectives on a challenging topic: the transmission of our home-culture to bring up children as citizens of the world.
My fingers aren’t tired of typing about such amazing stories and experiences and I do my best to write quickly. There are still some subjects I want to explore more in depth, so if you want to take part in this project, drop me an email and hope to meet you soon.
Si vous pensez que je vois (encore) rouge, vous n’y êtes pas du tout.
Je voudrais vous parler de la journée du nez rouge! Allons un peu de sérieux, allez-vous me dire et je suis tout à fait d’accord avec vous. On ne rigole pas du tout. La journée du pullover de Noël (12 décembre), celle du chapeau (27 mars) , celle du “mauvais” pantalon (26 juin) ou encore celle du jean (18 septembre), il y en a pour tous les goûts! Et détrompez-vous, derrière les titres hilarants, se cachent des levées de fonds pour la recherche médicale ou des causes solidaires. C’est la manière british de s’engager et de le montrer à tous. Continue Reading
“What is your experience of a British upbringing?” is one of my final questions. All the interviewee-couples told me stories about themselves, their bilingual and bicultural day-to-day challenges but at the end I asked them to talk about their experience in the country they live in; things they like or dislike about the way the parents interact with kids and talk to them; the British style of education.
What surprised me was that they don’t necessary have an idea about that. Some of them seem not to want deeper interaction with locals, or simply don’t have them because they live surrounded by multicultural friends. Though this was only the case with a minority of interviewees, it was interesting to see how much distance there can be between “multicultural” and “monocultural” parents, whilst their kids play together at school or on the playground.
Let’s have a look at those couples who underlined some interesting aspects they didn’t know about British culture, or parts of the upbringing style they particularly like.
Ariane and William: she is French, he is English, they have two adolescent kids. She prefers the more relaxed English style compared to the French style.
What I appreciated with the nurseries here is that they consider themselves as being helpful to you. As parents you can come at the time which is convenient for you and your work or family. They are flexible, which is just not possible in France, where the doors open and close at special times or you have to ring. And here you can stay with your kid, if you feel that it’s better, you can stay longer, play a bit and then go. I like this child-oriented atmosphere.
Magda is Polish and Stefan is Austrian, they have one child. The question about the British style of upbringing made them smile… Continue Reading
(Version française ici , merci)
After a busy time at school for the children and at work for the parents, everyone needs a little rest and relaxation. The “Tapetenwechsel” (literally, ‘Changing the wallpaper’), as the Germans say, is very important to recharge the batteries. In these summer months, let’s have a look at some interview extracts about the holidays of bilingual families. How do they manage being torn between holidays as a family unit and the expectations of their extended families?
These are some extracts from my book project Bilingual Families: Bringing Up Children between Cultures (read more here)
Melanie (36) and Nathan (37) have two children under the age of 6 who speak both parents’ languages (German and Hebrew):
Melanie We had started the rule that each country would get at least one trip a year…but to be more realistic it was more two… (Nathan agrees) And now we insist more on family holidays which don’t involve other family members, because visiting family isn’t vacation-time.
Nathan This year we’re going to Israel, but we’re renting a place in another town than where my family lives. It’s next to the beach, in an area you would go for holidays. From here we can meet my family, but it’s different; we’re independent and the children will still be in a Hebrew environment. Continue Reading
The end of April 2014 found me starting the writing project for my book Bringing Up Children between Cultures. The main idea behind the book is to interview bi-cultural couples in Oxfordshire about their day-to-day experiences. This involves couples in which both partners come from different countries, speak different languages, and have different traditions, habits and therefore different parenting styles.
Through anecdotes, stories and their own personal perspectives, these couples will illustrate how enriching and sometimes challenging parenting can be between different cultures.
In now close to one year I have interviewed twenty couples and single parents: French-Colombian, German-Irish, English-Thai… parents shared with me their experiences as couples and parents. We talk about subjects like communication in two (or more) languages, couple life between different cultures, expecting a child and children’s upbringing, bilingualism and how to transmit values from another country…
Would you like to join in this exciting book-project? I can’t wait hearing from you!
The end of April 2014 found me starting the writing project for my book
Bringing Up Children between Cultures.
The main idea behind my book is to interview bi-cultural couples in Oxfordshire
about their day-to-day experiences. This involves couples in which both partners
come from different countries, speak different languages,
and have different traditions, habits and therefore different parenting styles.
Through anecdotes, stories and their own personal perspectives,
these couples will illustrate how enriching and sometimes challenging
parenting can be between different cultures.
Fin avril a commencé l’aventure du livre
“Familles bilingues : la parentalité entre les cultures”.
L’idée est d’interviewer des couples vivant dans le comté d’Oxford
sur leur expérience quotidienne avec deux ou plusieurs cultures,
langues, traditions, habitudes et styles d’éducation…
A travers des anecdotes, des récits et
des analyses personnelles, ils mettent en avant combien il est enrichissant
mais aussi délicat d’être parents entre plusieurs pays.
(lisez la suite en français en bas, merci)
For today, here is an exclusive extract from the interview of a franco-colombian couple, Elise and Manuel (pseudonyms), parents of a nine months baby. During the interview we tackled the issue of being pregnant in Britain. They shared how challenging it was for them to bridge the gap between their cultural expectations and those of their host country. Continue Reading
During the last 70 years the world around birth has definitely changed: mothers are encouraged to eat and drink during labour, fathers are allowed and even expected to attend the birth, mothers can breastfeed confidently in public, parents are advised to choose their birthplace carefully…
Thanks also to the campaigns, contri-butions and engagements by the National Childbirth Trust, better known under the name NCT, these facts are now established. Set up 1957, the charity counts today 5,000 volunteers and more than 100,000 members in 320 local branches.
NCT’s main idea: Support for new parents on your doorstep for the first 1,000 days – which means from conception to the second birthday of your child.
What does NCT offer in Oxford? Different courses and activities are set up by the local branch: ante-and postnatal courses, a group about home birth support, Baby cafés (Breastfeeding support), First Aid courses, Bumps & Babies group, Speed Bump and Coffee groups. NCT Oxford offers also a hire service for Valley Cushions (to help mothers who have difficulties to sit after giving birth).
What are Bumps & Babies, Speed Bumps and Coffee Morning groups? One of the main aims of NCT is to offer places where parents-to-be and young parents can meet one another. There is nothing worse than to stay alone with this new and often overwhelming experience of expecting or having a baby.
- Coffee Mornings come off twice a month at a volunteer’s home. It’s a friendly and informal meeting between parents! Drop in whenever you can make it with your baby from 10am to noon. Need to talk about bad nights, want to have some good advice about weaning or just happy to have a chat with other parents – this is the right place to be! There’re two Coffee Morning Groups in Oxford: one South/East Oxford, another in West Oxford.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (Sarah)
- Bumps & Babies takes place every Tuesday from 10.30am until noon at Wesley Memorial Church (New Inn Hall Street – OX1 2DH). Pregnant or with a tiny one (up to walking age), you are more than welcome! In a pleasant atmosphere there’re some toys for the babies and refreshments for the adults!
Contact: email@example.com (Hannah)
- Speed Bumps is a social event for parents-to-be, in the spirit of “speed dating” but simply for couples who are expecting a baby. Keep your eyes and ears open, the local NCT Team do their best to set up the next one in the summer of this year!
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (Sarah)
Do I need to have a membership? Continue Reading
Une des premières choses qui m’a surprise en arrivant de l’autre côté de la Manche est la façon dont parlent les parents, éducateurs et nounous aux enfants. Pour mes oreilles de frenchy ce sont des “good boy! good girl!” à tire larigot, mais aussi des “well done! That’s fan-tas-tic!” Et le plus intriguant, ni d’ironie ou de sarcasme dans ces paroles. Les adultes, ou plutôt les “grown up” (les grands comme on dit aux enfants) le pensent vraiment, ils sont à fond!
Leurs mots sont axés sur l’encouragement de l’enfant et la reconnaissance de ces actes.
Entre nous, cela m’a fait doucement sourire. Au début. Puis, finalement je m’y suis mise. (Déjà que nos enfants ont passé le tunnel sans trop rechigner, maintenant il ne faut pas trop les dépayser entre l’école et la maison.) Et, je ne cache pas que ces petites injonctions ci et là -probablement que je les utilise avec trop de parcimonie, diraient mes amies anglaises- en tout cas, je trouve que mon regard sur l’enfant change. J’étais déjà convaincu que l’enfant dès son plus jeune âge est une personne, mais lui dire régulièrement combien on est heureux de le voir grandir, découvrir le monde et faire ces premiers pas – ça m’a fait encore évoluer. Il y a du positivisme dans l’air, certes, mais on rend l’environnement aussi plus bienveillant et joyeux. J’adore me lancer le défi de changer de perspective, c’est un réel coup de pouce pour moi qui ne veut pas faire du “non” le mot le plus utilisé dans la journée.
Maintenant, il reste juste un dilemme : comment on traduit “good girl, well done” en français?