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mixed identity. race verses nationality....

(7 Posts)
mamaesi Wed 22-Feb-12 14:46:31

I am just wanting to start a discussion on how mixed race or multinational and multicultural families describe them selves and how you talk to your children about their identity.

race always gets confused with nationality. Although my husband and I both have british passports, we do not consider ourselves british...I was born in switzerland from italian/german/dutch parents and he was born in the US to nigerian parents. Its also confusing when you grow up in one country but have parents not from that country.

At present we are in the UK, but we might move in 2 years time..will my children say they are swiss/American or italian/german/nigerian or british or....

without having very clear identities as will I tell my children to identify themselves? we are truly a mixed bunch..

do you identify with your parents country of origin or the one in which you spent the most time?

BumbleBee2011 Wed 22-Feb-12 16:43:51

I think it depends on context, I have dual nationality but spent most of my childhood in a third country, and don't always feel like explaining myself (I have a mixed up accent), so I'll just mention the one that will be least likely to lead to questions depending on who I'm talking to.

Likewise if I'm not in a hurry and the person i'm talking to is interested, I'll explain in full.

It's important that the kids know their heritage though, so my DD will know all about her 3 nationalities (DH is British, I'm not) and it will then be up to her how she introduces herself to people.

giveitago Mon 27-Feb-12 16:38:31

I have one nationality at present and my parents are british and east african asian. I view myself as british as that's my eductation and other institutional upbringing, but I'm very comfortable with my multi identity and have never felt odd in my country of birth (britain).

My ds has a father from another ethnic group. DS has access to all of this backgrounds here and so fits in with all the other kids here in London.

I'm vary aware if we lived in one of the other countries he'd have less peers of his background and certainly have less access to those various backgrounds so we're staying put.

We have a multifaith and multirace tradition in my family that's best accommodated here.

Pennybubbly Wed 29-Feb-12 04:59:07

I guess you kind of answered your own question in your second thread. You feel British as your upbringing was there. You plan to stay in the UK for now as that is the best place for your DS to access all the different parts of his heritage.
On another note, do you actually need to "tell" your children what identity to have? I guess that they will just feel a closer affinity with whatever culture and country they are most used to?
If they really feel the need to go into it with someone (does anyone actually ask "What's your identity?") (genuine question, as I've never heard that), then they could explain the different parts of their genetic make-up (your heritage, your dp's heritage...).

My DCs have dual nationality/heritage. I am caucasian UK and my DH is Japanese, so my children currently have 2 nationalities. As we live in Japan, I am trying my hardest to bring them up to be bi-lingual, and bi-cultural but as they were born here and have lived here all their lives, it would not surprise me at all if they felt a closer affinity to Japan and felt more Japanese than British. Of course if they talk about it to me, I tell them they are both, but it's a difficult concept for my youngest (just 4) to grasp if I'm honest, as I know he can't "feel" British, just because I tell him he is.

Sorry, waffling a bit now, but I'm trying to get the point across that they'll 'be' what they'll feel through the up-bringing they have (absorbing the cultures of both the society they are immersed in at school and at home). Or that's my view at least smile

laptopwieldingharpy Thu 19-Apr-12 10:33:46

Bumblebee's first post pretty much sums it up for me. Who cares to know? should dictate the answer.That's what I teach them about any personal question.

That said we live in Asia as expats and lots of multicultural families around so my kids don't know any "better" really.
Wether its nationality/race/language, the norm for my kids is a minimum of 2, so have not really thought about it so much.

Interresting point from giveitago about educational and institutional upbringing.
Am mulling that over but not sure that gives you an identity as such, more a set of biases in my experience.

My kids tend to answer "my family comes from....and I was born in...." or "my grand parents are from....but I was born...."
Which still doesn't answer the question of their nationality grin and its nobody's business to ask a child anyway!

Ruthchan Mon 30-Apr-12 21:08:28

My DCs are dual nationality and we live in a 3rd country.
They know that they are Japanese and British. We live in Belgium, but they don't consider themselves to be Belgian and they know that we won't live here forever.

Here we live in a very international community.
Few of their friends are Belgian and most are of mixed nationality.
For them, this modern international life is the norm and it doesn't worry them.

I try to instill in them as much of both British and Japanese cultures as possible to educate them about their backgrounds.

JennyJuno Thu 03-May-12 08:41:56

My daughter was born in Switzerland, raised in Switzerland and France, of a German-American father and a very British mother. We live in possibly one of the most diverse regions of the world for nationality/language/culture, etc., and the first question you ask anyone new is 'what nationality are you?', regardless of the language they speaking. My own daughter always does the 'I'm Anglo-American, but raised in Europe' thing LOL But it is easily comprehensible here as I don't think I know one child who only has one mother tongue or one passport! TBH, my own child is probably primarily 'British' within our home and 'Swiss' outside it.

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