Things To Consider Before Starting A Family When Blending Cultures
Updated: Dec 15, 2020
Making the decision to start a family is a big enough one without then taking into consideration how to embrace one another's culture. I believe it's important to start these discussions well before you actually do have a family to ensure you are both on the same page. Things such as which customs and traditions to teach your child can be difficult to decide.
Especially when you both may not agree with certain traditions of one another's culture. The Punjabi Culture in particular has so many traditions and customs that can be a huge culture shock to some. I have had many discussions with my partner regarding what aspects of his culture he believes is important to embrace. Turns out he sees a vast majority of his culture as important. So how does one go about compromise? This is a question I find myself asking of late.
If we do start a family our child will be of mixed ethnicity and should be raised within both cultures. However much of my partner's culture dominates my culture which I am against as our child should be raised to respect both cultures. For instance we have had many discussions over the silver bracelets that all Sikhs wear as a symbol of their faith, known as the kara.
The Kara is symbolic of eternity, reminding a Sikh that God has no beginning or end. It also signifies that a Sikh is linked to the Guru. As this is symbolic of one being of the Sikh faith only, I am personally against my mixed race child wearing one. Furthermore this is forcing a faith on a child who I believe should have a choice. Don't get me wrong I want my child to learn the culture but when it comes to such an important decision as religion, this should be theirs to make. I am all for teaching our child about the Sikh Faith but just not impose on them a permanent symbol of the faith at such an influential age. Just as I wouldn't have them wear a cross symbolic of Christianity. Now this is just my personal opinion, and each person is entitled to their own belief's.
There are other major cultural differences about raising a child between the Punjabi and Australian cultures. Particularly when it comes to who and how one raises their child. It is part of the Punjabi Culture to have your child sleep in your room till they are grown. This could mean they share a room with you for years on end. I believe a married couple should share a room between themselves only. There are such things as baby monitors to ensure your child is safe. Having your child sleep with you eliminates any romance between a couple and puts the marriage after the child.
Sure there will be times when your child can't sleep on their own but they should be given their own space so that they learn independence. Though with that said I believe there are many valid points to co-sleeping with your child, however only when they are young. At some point they need to learn independence, and should be sleeping on their own. But this is such a controversial topic and it really depends on your family and circumstances as to what works best for you. I have a feeling that my husband may get his way with this aspect of his culture.
Then there is the issue of how to raise your child, especially since it is typically the Grandparents role to raise their Grandchildren to allow the parents to work. There is no doubt they play an important role in the child's life but to have them dictate how they are raised should be a parents role. Being such a family oriented culture most relatives will have a say in the child's upbringing.
Personally I believe that having too many role models can be conflicting. There is no hierarchy as to who ultimately the child should listen to when there are contradictory rules. It also takes away the bond between a parent and a child. I want to be there to experience my child's first words and not someone else. I have no issues involving our family in raising a child however as parents we should have the final say.
When it comes to my culture there are no set traditions as to how to raise a child. This is what worries my husband as he sees my culture essentially lacking in culture. However I see our culture as being open and allows you to adapt the good parts that suit your lifestyle. We should raise our child in a loving and supportive environment whilst teaching them to be the best they can be. This can be challenging to trust when you have been raised in such a traditional culture and only ever see the negative aspects of the western culture. Such as children having no respect for their parents or elders.
These are all important aspects to discuss prior to having a family as when it comes time, it will only be more difficult having the conversation. It's best to set expectations up front so you both know where you will stand. Prioritise which aspects of each of your cultures are of utmost importance to each of you, so that way you can compromise on the aspects which aren't especially important. As there will certainly be aspects that you both have contradicting opinions on therefore you may have to come to some middle grounds, or one partner may have to compromise.
Whilst we have both set our expectations we certainly haven't come to a resolution as we can't come up with a compromise. I expect that this will be an ongoing discussion we have for life! So best to get started as soon as possible to ease some of the drama later on.
How have you included both cultures into your child's upbringing?