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How We Raise our Biracial, Trilingual, Interfaith, and Multicultural Child
Marlena Gandhok
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Marlena Gandhok

Contributing Writer at the Parent Voice, Magazine
Marlena Gandhok is a mum, wife, daughter, lawyer, pianist, writer, and blogger. She holds two Master’s Degrees; a Master of Laws from the University of Silesia (Poland) and an L. L. M. from the University of Reading (England), and a third Degree in Piano. Originally from Poland, she currently lives in England with her husband and son. Together, they create a multicultural, biracial, trilingual, and interfaith family. She is Polish, European, and Roman Catholic. Her husband is British, Asian, and Sikh. She blogs about her family's multicultural life at www.fabulous-fusions.com.
Marlena Gandhok
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As every mother, I worry about my child. I worry about him getting ill, hitting his head on the playground, choking, not eating enough, not wearing a hat and scarf when it’s cold outside and so on and on…

As a mother raising her biracial, trilingual, interfaith, and multicultural child, these aren’t my biggest worries. I’m much more concerned about him being bullied by others in school, feeling marginalised, feeling lost at not being able to identify with one ethnicity, wondering why he doesn’t fit any ‘typical questionnaire group’, or getting upset, angry, or depressed when someone makes a negative comment towards him.

I know we, my husband and I, have to do everything we can to make him a strong and confident young man who can face anyone and any difficult situation. We have to help him develop a strong sense of his own identity and teach him to be proud of his diverse background. We can never let him feel like an outsider or less than others, but different? Yes!

I worry that my #biracial, #multilingual, #interfaith child may get bullied Click To Tweet

To that effect, we will do what we can to never let others say any negative things about his ethnicity. We will always speak up and teach him how to respond while holding his head up. By educating him in the right way and helping him understand and appreciate his unique status, we will hope to boost his self-esteem.

“The most powerful moral influence is example.”
–Huston Smith

Raising our Biracial, Trilingual, Interfaith, Multicultural Child

Leading by Example: Teaching Diversity

 

Marlena Gandhok

Photo Courtesy: Marlena Gandhok

Leading by example always starts at home. If we don’t set the right example, we can only blame ourselves, not others. If we demonstrate we don’t like a particular religion or race like racists or choosists (choosist is a person who is a hidden racist such as someone who, for example, likes white and brown people, but not black; I’m very sorry for such a simple languistic example, I don’t mean to offend anyone, just want to show the plain thinking of certain choosists), we can expect our children to develop the same attitudes.

That’s why it is so important to teach our children the world is diverse. There are different religions, cultures, races, sexes, ethnic groups, and so on. Everyone has a right to have their own opinions and views, but one should respect other people’s beliefs, values, customs and personal identity too.

We want our son to know, understand, and appreciate the world diversity and embrace its differences, like we do. We want him to interact and play with children from all races and religions, and not only with Polish, Indian, British, Christians, and Sikhs. We want to show him the world- travel to different countries/continents, meet people of all colours, visit temples/gurudwaras/churches/mosques/and synagogues, do charity, and work with those less privileged.




We want him to know money doesn’t value a person. We will try to teach him not every child is as lucky as he is – to be healthy and have loving parents and all grandparents, a house, a safe country in which to live, any food he wants, plenty of toys, and just a happy childhood.

Leading by Example: Teaching Empathy and Kindness

My husband is an amazing man with a big heart. It was his idea to collect money and donate to charity instead of getting gifts on Fabian’s first birthday. I have to be honest. At first, I was against it. I thought we could collect money on his 2nd or 3rd birthday, but not on the 1st. In my opinion, the first birthday is the most important and memorable one and some gifts are remembered throughout one’s life. However, he didn’t have to persuade me much. I agreed quickly. Now, I feel like it was the best idea ever and the best gift Fabi could have ever gotten.

He has so many toys that those new ones wouldn’t have made a difference. Instead, we collected a good amount of money on behalf of Fabi and donated it to a hospice for children. I’m sure Fabi will get lots of blessings and good wishes which are more powerful than material things. As I said, I have a very generous husband who supports many charities and organisations. He taught me to give and share and not expect anything in return. He says God will give us what we deserve. To be honest, he is right! God has given us a fabulous life so far.

Leading by Example: Blending Cultures

 

Marlena Gandhok

Photo Courtesy: Marlena Gandhok


Our fabulous fusions work pretty well. We respect each other’s traditions and beliefs. We embrace our differences and blend our cultures. We try to balance our many differences by treating everything as equal.

We want our son to be proud of his Polish and Indian heritage. #Interfaith #Biracial #MixedRace Click To Tweet

We want our son to be proud of his Polish and Indian heritage although we are aware he is and will get even more British every day. Together we go to Church and the Gurudwara. We attend various religious festivals and events. We celebrate Easter, Diwali, Christmas, and Holi, among others. We read books in English, Polish, and Hindi. We watch cartoons and movies mostly in English, but sometimes we show him particular shows in our own languages.

We started exposing our son to 3 languages since birth. I speak to him in Polish, my husband speaks to him in Hindi, and my husband and I speak English to each other. Moreover, English is everywhere around him, including his nursery. He is now 2.5 years old and is able to speak in 3 languages. He differentiates the three perfectly. He knows he can speak only Polish with me and my parents (sometimes a bit of English too), and only Hindi with daddy and his parents (and a bit of English too).

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I taught him to count till 10 in English and Polish but decided to stick with English for his alphabets just to make his life a little easier. He can spell every word written in capital letters. Naturally, I am an extremely proud mum! 

One of the main reasons why we want him to speak our mother tongues is so he can communicate with his grandparents. We want Fabi to be able to talk to them, call them whenever he wants, and spend the holidays with them. In order to do this and feel comfortable with them, he needs to communicate with his grandparents in their native languages. So far, it’s all going well. Let’s hope it keeps getting better and better.


This post was originally published on the author’s personal blog. See link in bio.


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    the author

    Marlena Gandhok is a mum, wife, daughter, lawyer, pianist, writer, and blogger. She holds two Master’s Degrees; a Master of Laws from the University of Silesia (Poland) and an L. L. M. from the University of Reading (England), and a third Degree in Piano. Originally from Poland, she currently lives in England with her husband and son. Together, they create a multicultural, biracial, trilingual, and interfaith family. She is Polish, European, and Roman Catholic. Her husband is British, Asian, and Sikh. She blogs about her family’s multicultural life at www.fabulous-fusions.com.

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