Ten Things I Love About Raising My Half-Japanese Children
Happy New Year everyone! I am a mother to a 3-year old girl and 1-year old boy. I am a Japanese-American and my husband is Caucasian. Together, we are working hard to help our half-Japanese children become bilingual and bicultural. Sometimes it is very challenging, but today I wanted to celebrate what I love about being their mom!
1) There’s always a reason to celebrate! Not only do we celebrate the 4th of July and Halloween, but we also celebrate Japanese holidays such as Girls’ Day and Setsubun. Every month has something exciting to look forward to.
2) We eat a wide variety of foods. Our dinner menu includes dishes from both the West and the East. My children appreciate natto-gohan (rice with fermented soy beans) and miso soup as much as spaghetti and meatballs. Compared to other children their age, I feel they’re not very picky about what they eat.
3) I feel really cool when I get to tell people that my children are bilingual. My children enjoy bedtime stories and TV shows in both English and Japanese.
4) Speaking of bedtime stories, we love reading traditional Japanese stories. Reading stories from more than one country really opens up our minds to different ideas and ways of life.
5) Knowing more than one language opens up new doors of friendship and opportunity. For example, we were able to find an amazing piano teacher for our daughter, who happens to have just moved here from Japan. If my daughter didn’t know Japanese, we would have missed this opportunity to learn from this talented woman.
6) My children are only 1 and 3, but we’ve already had discussions about different cultures, religions, and languages. They know at their young ages that people all over the world are different in some ways, the same in others, but all wonderful.
7) I hope my children will learn the best from both worlds. I want them to have the work ethic, humility, and respect for the elderly that the Japanese have, and I also want them to be bold and be able to speak their minds like Americans (please excuse my generalizations).
8 ) What a blessing to have such a varied cultural background. We can tell them stories about their Texan great-grandfather and about their great-grandfather in Tokyo who grew up in post-WWII Japan. I hope they will look up to the examples of their many ancestors and apply the lessons they learn to their own lives.
9) We have had many unique opportunities to travel with our children. We have taken the children to family farms in Missouri, and plan to visit relatives in Japan this year. How lucky are they? And how lucky are we, to be able to give our children these opportunities.
10) What can I say, I’m totally biased, but I think my half-Japanese children are very cute. It melts my heart when they give me a hug and say, “Mommy, daisuki! (I love you mommy!)”. They mean the world to me.
You can read more about my adventures in bilingual parenting at hiraganamama.com!