Vanessa published a post yesterday on Busted Halo about her Mexican culture and some difficulties she is having in exposing the girls to it. This has been a well-discussed issue in our home, so Vanessa wrote nothing groundbreaking to me. One of the comments, though, I found quite interesting. “James” writes:
Overall, I find this article offensively chauvinistic.
I assume (but am not sure) from your married name that your husband is not Mexican. If he is not, then why is it important for the kids to be Mexican? You didn’t merely talk about imparting some of Mexican culture to your kids, but of having “little Mexican kids”.
What you are worried about is not familiarizing your child with HER roots, because her roots are where she is and come from both parents. You are worried about imparting to her YOUR roots, seemingly exclusive of those of your husband.
Why not let your child develop her own identity from her environment and from whatever she gets from both sides of the family? Why is it imperative that she be a “little Mexican kid”?
My mother was raised by immigrant parents, and we learned about their culture, but there was never any attempt to make us identify with her ethnicity or my father’s. We just learned things as they came up, and they didn’t try to form us into any nationality but that of our birth.
However his mother raised him worked for him, so great. James put too much weight on V’s line of “little Mexican kids”. Why is it important to us that we expose the kids to a great amount of V’s culture? Because there is unique culture there.
I’m white, non-Hispanic. I consider myself of German-decent, with that being the vast majority of my ancestry. We’ve traced one line of the family tree back to England. I’ve been told of Native American, French and Irish ancestors in the mix as well. With all of this mixing, coupled along with the popular sentiment of Americanizing the kids and my parent’s military lifestyle, left me without a culture of note.
I know none of the languages of my past. I know nothing of German, English, French or Irish traditions outside of Oktoberfest is about beer, Irish like green beer, the French make good fries (right? close?) and the English, um, make good muffins?
My celebrations are Catholic, Texan and American. Easter, Christmas and the Fourth of July. Labor Day (the September one, not the St. Joseph the Worker one), Texas Independence Day and Feast of St. Blaise. As far as how we celebrate, I can’t recall any traditions that include stories about how either of my parents did this same thing with their parents or grandparents. Maybe they did, but either it didn’t stick in my head or was left unsaid.
All of this leads to me feeling some part of a void. I like the idea of embracing my roots, pulling up some German custom and having that connect me to generations dead long before I was born. I tried looking some up on the Internet, but aren’t those just what someone typed up and published one day? Did my ancestors do these? It’s a hard hole to feel.
We are going to create our own traditions. October will host our annual Kraftoberfiesta celebrating our anniversary and my birthday. We’ve started exchanging more gifts at Easter than Christmas. We’re making some up and we’re merging others.
Nevertheless, I think it is important that the girls have a solid connection to a part of their heritage that has been directly passed down. They’ll hear enough German/Texan pride from me along the way too, but to have reinforced that this song their mother’s grandmother used to sing to them or knowing a story that all of their aunts, uncles and cousins on their mother’s side know is important.
Additionally, for better or worse, they’ll always been known as Hispanic. They might not look it, but they can’t check the “white, non-Hispanic” box. If our society is going to label them that way, we should make sure they’re aware of that experience.
To “James”, I’m not offended by Vanessa’s desire to make the kids Mexican. In reality, they’re going to be of both of us, but it is much easier for them to lose much more in the process if Vanessa didn’t try.