Bill Belew has raised 2 bi-cultural kids, now 34 and 30. And he and his wife are now parenting a 3rd, Mia, who is 8.
I am raising one bilingual kid. We speak several Indian languages at home.
We picked up and moved 13 years ago and since then, raising kids in a bilingual fashion is more or less a lifestyle. We don’t see it is an issue anymore.
The kids speak English fluently as they were born here but they are also interested in learning the language that their parents use at home.
There is an interesting side to this. Parents socialize with people like them – people who speak the same languages.
This puts the kids in an interesting and often not-so-pleasant situations. They are not able to enjoy books and movies in the native language – which their parents love and bring from their own childhood.
Consequently, there is either rebelliousness or complete resistance to imbibe the native language. Good parents advocate open-mindedness from when the kids are younger and this helps a lot.
Overall, it is not a fun ride. One must understand the need to share the mind between cultures/languages and what each of these bring to table. The Indian tradition brings thousands of years of history and culture, dressing, cuisine, and a general mentality that is particular to India.
I can see that of Chinese and other Asian, Hispanic cultures too. I have friends who have the same challenges with their kids.
Today parents are taking kids to focus groups and schools/tuition that advocates certain language and culture – growing up.
This helps the kids’ future in many good ways by preparing them for a bilingual adulthood. If the parents plan to stay in the country and grow old here, it is inevitable. We must be sensitive to the needs of kids when they grow older and have the same challenge with their kids and subsequently all further generations.
Talk to Bill and others about their experiences raising bi-cultural Japanese-American kids.