My Finnish partner and I have been together for just over two years of which a large part was spent in a long-distance relationship. After my move from my home country to Finland, the language, and culture topics concerning our intercultural relationship have become more present. Even more so, years before we are probably even going to have children I have started thinking about how to raise a bicultural child. One can find a lot of information about how to successfully raise bicultural children but can intercultural couples do something for it already before the birth of the child?
Often the first concern for intercultural parents is teaching their children to speak bilingual. We mostly speak in English so that we both would understand each other fully but starting from this year we have had every week some days when we speak each other’s native language. Lately we have had two days for each of our languages in a week. We could live our life speaking only English but thinking about the future neither of us wants a situation where one of us couldn't understand what the other is saying to the child or what the child is telling to one of us. Also, we acknowledge that we need to study each other’s languages so that we can communicate with each other’s families as nobody from my family speaks Finnish and their English is not so good. Moreover, we want to offer our future children the possibility to communicate with our families. By contributing to our own language learning we believe it will be easier to teach the child both of the languages.
I also feel that teaching children about their heritage is a good way to help them understand their roots. We see this as a common task but how will we be able to teach the child about our world together if we don’t know about each other’s? For this reason we have learned about each other’s cultures. While I am learning about Finland - it's everyday life, culture and history - while living, working and studying in Helsinki, my Finnish partner has taken an interest in learning about my homeland. Honestly, sometimes I feel he knows more about my country than I do. Learning about my cultural history, society and language has also brought him closer together with my family who are very enthusiastic about his efforts.
The efforts we have made so far have allowed us to have a fuller understanding of our relationship and honest discussions have shown us if we are on the same path. Through effective communication we have discovered that our core values do not differ so much from each other and therefore it seems that we do not have to make many cultural compromises. Yet, it is hard to distinguish which of the factors are cultural differences and which personality differences.
There has been a lot of research which has shown that after the child’s birth people start to be more aware of their cultural differences and the disagreements arise about how to raise children. Of course, the couple does not necessarily have to be from different cultural backgrounds to experience disagreements. To avoid future conflicts or misunderstandings, I feel it is important that the partners discuss how the children will be raised beforehand. My partner and I prepare for the future already now through open communication and common actions and when the time to have the child comes, we plan to work together, try to understand each other’s viewpoints and take advantage of the best of both worlds.
Kahden kulttuurin keskeltä - Duo blogi
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