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People not orig. from the UK but bringing up children here...?

(109 Posts)
TalcumPowder Thu 28-Aug-14 10:28:37

If you aren't originally from the UK, but live and are bringing up your children here, are you ever haunted by the feeling that you should be rearing them in your home country, seeing their extended family regularly and being immersed in your home culture? Do you feel your child is missing out on important things from your 'home' country, and may feel rootless as an adult by being brought up in a country where his parents are foreigners?

Partly sparked off by the thread about perceptions of miserable UK childhoods, but mostly by a recent visit to my and DH's home country with our toddler. He was just so happy and stimulated by being around his grandparents, aunts and uncles - here in the UK we have no family at all, and friends are too distant for more than occasional visits - and I loved seeing him encounter the kind of cultural context I had as a child.

The fact that family members remarked with amusement on his English accent now he's more verbal made me wonder whether I am rearing a semi-English child with the disadvantages of an English childhood and none of the advantages?

If you are foreign and bringing up your child in, say, England, do you feel your child is in fact English?

TalcumPowder Thu 28-Aug-14 10:38:49

Surely there are more alienated foreign parents on Mn???

Just me, then?

TheBuggerlugs Thu 28-Aug-14 10:46:50

You gave MNers 10 whole minutes to reply hmm

I'd put on a hard hat if I were you.

greeneggsandjam Thu 28-Aug-14 10:50:59


What are all the disadvantages of an English childhood in your eyes?

desertgirl Thu 28-Aug-14 10:56:20

have similar concerns as an expat Brit... have you read any of the literature on third culture kids?

TalcumPowder Thu 28-Aug-14 10:58:40

Buggerlugs grin

It's on my mind a lot since we got back...

Greeneggs, I don't know. I am not English, neither is DH. I like it here and have lived here for most of my adult life. However, no one would perceive me to be English, and I grew up confident of my own cultural heritage in my home country. My family in my home country perceive my child (born in England) as increasingly English as he starts to talk more fluently, and I have found myself wondering how he will perceive himself as he grows up?

TalcumPowder Thu 28-Aug-14 11:02:10

Oh, and I know nothing about English childhoods, really - this is my first child, and he's only two. That was a reference to the other thread on perceptions of the comparative unhappiness of UK childhoods. I wasn't a child here, so things like the education system will be completely strange to me.

Desert girl, is there anything you would specifically recommend?

greeneggsandjam Thu 28-Aug-14 11:04:36

I suppose he will see himself as English/British with parents from x and y country. How often do you take him to your home countries? How fluent is he in either of those languages? Do you make the traditional food/follow customs etc of your own countries? I suppose you have to ask yourself which country would give him the best start in life and options. I can see that it would be very difficult in terms of family relationships. Will they have strong connections to extended family abroad?

Having said that, I grew up in the UK, all my family are from the UK but we rarely saw them and I do not have any strong connections with any of them due to us always living hundreds of miles away from everyone else. I think it would have been nice to be close by to cousins/grandparents an so on.

OhGood Thu 28-Aug-14 11:06:37

I was also going to ask desertgirl what she would recommend?

I was at a very big party this weekend, lots of people all from different cultures, all bringing up kids here. All of us had these different accents, all our kids sound the same.

I always, always wonder whether we'd be better off at 'home', am always agonising about whether this is the right thing to do. I am always, always sad when think that I'm depriving the DCs of extending family.

Tough one.

Dollybird99 Thu 28-Aug-14 11:06:37

Miserable UK Childhoods....? Mine was not miserable, it was full of culture, laughter, love, camping, fun, tickling and talking. My son's childhood will be the same, and hopefully he'll grow up to be as rounded a human being as I am.

OhGood Thu 28-Aug-14 11:07:08

extended, rather.

desertgirl Thu 28-Aug-14 11:07:35

no, sorry, have been meaning to look into it more! this is a very expat community though so have seen the term around a fair bit (idea is tha the child's culture is neither parent nor host but a third one, and this has its own benefits and disadvantages) and I know there is more out there. After holidays is always worst - hols give a rosy picture of life back home and you see everyone at their best, usually. At least this year Scotland produced rain and midges smile

AwesomeSuperTasty Thu 28-Aug-14 11:21:20

Could you link to the thread about miserable uk childhoods, op?

DH and I are not English but are raising our son here. Mainly as I grew up here (16 onwards), it's my home, my parents are here and our careers are here. That said, I would prefer to bring up my child Scandinavia. We are not from there but both of us have worked there extensively over the years. It's a very child centric culture; the best child care and schooling in the world etc. I would move there in a heartbeat if I could get a job there!

MaryAnnTheDasher Thu 28-Aug-14 11:25:46

I am not in that position but my mum is not from the Uk, she's Irish and her up bringing was very very different to ours. I agree with pp, after a holiday is a bad time to think of this stuff! You go home and you get all the nice bits, everyone on great form, excitable because you're there, maybe doing activities they wouldn't normally be doing. You're bound to question your decision when you get back to the UK. My own experience as second generation Irish is that you do feel a bit like a spare part at times in the sense that I obviously don't belong in Ireland but we were very much bought up around mainly other irish/second generation Irish people, the music we danced to at home was Irish, the Irish papers were being read, the Irish radio was on, our food was 'irish' and every single holiday was to Ireland so alot of my cultural references do not match those of English people although I am English. It hasn't done me any harm though and there's plenty other second generation Irish around so all in all I think it's a good thing. It did used to make me want to BE Irish but I think alot of second generation kids go through that phase and it soon passes.

TalcumPowder Thu 28-Aug-14 11:50:34

Awesome, can't link because I am a techno dinosaur, but it's on page 2 of Chat currently, and called 'Is the average British childhood as grim as it appears from Mumsnet?' And has links to various surveys about quality of living etc etc. I haven't read all of it.

MaryAnn (great name), DH and I are Irish, so what you say resonates strongly with me. The difference for our son is that he will definitely not be brought up around other Irish UK-based people as things are at the moment - we live in very rural England with no tradition of Irish migration to anywhere nearby, and we don't have Irish friends who live outside of Ireland. I really don't want him to grow up feeling like a spare part in both countries. I get English neighbours here saying 'Oh, will he grow up with an accent?' (because obviously, they themselves don't perceive themselves to have an accent, just me and DH), and then family back in Ireland remarking on his English accent.

I actually had a fairly deprived childhood, but I never had to do that kind of 'who/what am I really?' soul-searching.

mygrandchildrenrock Thu 28-Aug-14 12:02:57

We lived in the Caribbean during our teenage children's formative years. Recently I asked them where they felt they came from. The 13 yr old said the English city of her birth even though we left there when she was 1, the 16 yr old said where we currently live - have been here 4 yrs.
They both said the Caribbean would always be important to them but wasn't home as such.

SnottySundays Thu 28-Aug-14 12:03:21

My husband grew up in Malaysia, so our DD is half English, half Malaysian. To be honest, she does miss out on seeing the other side of her family and being immersed in their culture, as they live so far away. We can't afford to visit more than once a year. There's no doubt that DD is therefore mostly English - she is surrounded by English people, especially where we live. I'd love it if she saw her Malaysian family more often, but they won't come over here (a bit of a sore point TBH, as i think they should also make the effort).

But you can only do what you can do. We take her over there when we can, we eat Malaysian food a lot, and my husband speaks Cantonese to her. She goes to nursery in a more multicultural area, where they make an effort to observe all the childrens' religious festivals and cultural traditions.

She is exposed to far more difference than the other kids round here of her age, however, which can only be a good thing. What she does and who she identifies with when she grows up is her choice, I just want her to be happy. And actually there are a lot of advantages to a childhood in the UK.

ShanghaiDiva Thu 28-Aug-14 12:09:44

My ds is a poster child for third culture kids. We are British, but he has never lived in the uk. We have been in china for the past 6 years. There are many advantages- languages, tolerance, acceptance, travel opportunities, but I imagine he will feel 'rootless" when he is older as he isn't Chinese, but has so many things in the uk would be alien to him.

JassyRadlett Thu 28-Aug-14 12:18:19

I do know what you mean.

I'm Australian, my husband is British. I'm raising an English child, essentially, and it's weird and it makes me sad sometimes. It's compounded by the fact that I had a very rural childhood, my husband and my son's chilhoods were/are suburban.

Right now, this is the right place for our family to be but I'd be lying if I said I didn't regret my son not having the opportunities and lifestyle I had as a child - although I didn't have the opportunities he will have, particularly living where we do). And it's worse now that I have a nephew, and see the support my parents are able to give to my brother and sister-in-law - because DH's familly don't provide any of that for us, for various reasons.

It's always worst after we come home, and I have to remind myself that holidays have a halo effect and it wouldn't be the same if we were working and he was in childcare, as he is here.

But oh, the space, and the warmth, and an education system I understand, and the skills I grew up with, and the warmth of the people - even the children in the playgrounds are friendlier.

PossumPoo Thu 28-Aug-14 12:20:14

Yes OP I do. I feel like she wont have the great childhood I did. But DH isn't from the UK and from a different country to me so he feels it also!

we are in London though and I personally dont want to raise DD here, this is where she should come when she is older for an adventure.

I don't think of DD as English as she has Irish and Australian dual nationality. She just has an English accent but DH and l make her use Australian and Irish words for different things so she understands what we are talking about. It used to confuse the CM but she's getting it now smile

aintnothinbutagstring Thu 28-Aug-14 12:20:57

Your son will almost definitely have an accent from where you live now, more so as he moves from socialising with you to with his peers. Does that matter? An accent is cosmetic in my eyes. I'm from northern england, my dh is from overseas, our children will have SE accents.

How is an irish childhood different from an english one, surely there are more similarities than differences? I thought from your initial post you were talking of some wildly more exotic culture! My dc are fed food from both our cultures, my dh talks his indigenous language frequently to our dc, they know of dh's culture's music/dancing, we have family from overseas visiting.

How much do you do to educate your ds of his cultural heritage?

With regards to the other thread, IMO, western childhoods as a whole are massively priviliged and romanticised, we should be thankful for what we are able to give our children.

I'm also Irish but DH is English. We are living in England but have also lived in Bulgaria and Hungary since we had DS and Vietnam and Thailand pre-DS.

DS considers himself Irish as he was born in Dublin and has an Irish passport. He used to say he was half English and three-quarters Irish!

Accent wise some people say he sounds more Irish than I do. My family think he sounds English. His friends at school said he sounded American when we moved here first. He had been at an international school in Budapest.

We go to Dublin regularly and he is close to his cousins and very close to my dad.

We did seriously think about moving to Australia a few years ago and one of things that stopped me was putting even more distance between him and my family.

I think the third culture kid thing is very interesting although I haven't read much on it recently.

MrsWinnibago Thu 28-Aug-14 12:32:16

My DH is Aussie. We've brought our DC up in the UK and they're now 10 and 6. DH is haunted by all the things you describe OP. He worries about them not having the things he had...the beach etc.

They LOVE Oz and we're moving there in a year.

They will see themselves as both Australian and English I think. It's all a bit odd...hard sometimes but there you go. Can't be in two places at once.

Amrapaali Thu 28-Aug-14 12:33:51

Agree with aint a sense of rootedness and belonging will be easier to instil in your DC if you keep exposing them to your culture and traditions. How much do you do this now?

My DD is growing up English, though her father and I are first generation immigrants from a non-English speaking country. It is a fast-changing world and we go where the jobs or opportunities are. This will be the norm for generations to come: born in a country, higher studies somewhere else, a job on another continent and so on.

I see so many of my friends and acquaintances in the same boat. All have children and all the little ones will have to go through a period of self evaluation and introspection, I think.

In my case annual visits, grandparents coming over here, exposure to festivals and storytelling, books, music have all helped my DD understand her ancestry. And besides, growing up with two different yet interesting cultural mores can only enrich our children.

MrsWinnibago Thu 28-Aug-14 12:38:52

I hope my DC will feel as though they can root in Oz next year. I am hoping the much loved Grandparents will make that more friends.

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