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International family: tips?

  1. #1
    futuredad is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    hong kong

    Question International family: tips?

    hi everybody,

    I will be dad in few months and really happy about that. My lovely better half is Japanese, I am french, and she has a 9 year old son from a previous marriage... and he is Chinese. Pretty international family.

    We all communicate in english and doing well like that so far.

    I am concerned that our future baby will not be able to communicate and interact with his grand parents (japanese or french). Having him/her familiar with french culture is important for me and understand that Japanese roots of his/her mother cannot be ignored too. We may also move back to europe in few years too.

    I am sure we are not the only family in hong kong to be in this situation and will be very interested to hear from you, on how you are handling such melting pot. Shall we speak to our new born in english, but also french and japanese? This is complicated and want to make sure we do the right thing.

    thanks for sharing !

  2. #2
    Shenzhennifer is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Tsuen Wan

    I have a similar little family, though with only 2 languages. I am English Canadian and my husband is Japanese - we communicate in English mostly.
    We both hope our son will be bilingual and know both heritages. We each talk to him in our own language (but he`s only 6 months right now), but it`s hard for my husband and I have to remind him a lot. I read that if you speak whatever languages from birth to your child, they will pick it up, but might be a bit slower than a child learning only one native language.
    I think we`re in a good position living in a neutral country. That way, no one heritage is emphasized. I have no idea where we`ll be in the future, but one fear is that we will have to live in Japan, and so will have to raise our son as a Japanese. I`m not really eager to do that, so I`m going to try living in neutral countries as long as we can.

  3. #3
    spockey is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2007

    We're a mixed bag too.
    I come from a Straits Chinese/Eurasian (Brit) mother and a Portuguese/Malay father growing up in Singapore/Australia. We spoke English at home and picked up a second language at school. Culturally, as kids growing up, my sisters and I enjoyed English/Chinese/Malay festivities.

    Now, I'm married to a German and to make it worse, we're Australians too so we speak English at home as it's the easiest and most practical language which we use as his mother tongue/native language (Australia is home for us too) and his dad speaks German to him.
    Currently, he's a passive bilingual - speaks well in one language, understands the other, and trying to speak in the other. Culturally, we merge both cultures when it comes to festivities and daily home cooking just so that our child gets the best of our diverse worlds.
    Eventually we hope that he becomes trilingual - mainly in English/German with Mandarin picked up at school.

    Although we've picked neutral countries to live in, we have also decided that it's important to live in Germany so that he understands that bit of his culture. Right now, we try to make a trip to either Australia or Germany when we can and will do so as long as we live in our host country. It's easy coz his grandparents help us maintain his cultural ties. He knows Opa is in Germany and Nana is in Australia.

    As German is harder for him, I'll be taking it up as a third language next year so that we can communicate in his second language more often in the hope that he becomes truly bilingual.

    Don't forget our kids are also going to be dealing with another set of culture as they grow up here (or as long as we remain here) - a third culture so to speak as "Hong Kongers". I've had friends from uni who have become "lost souls" as a result of this third culture.

    I found this book useful - Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds by D.C. Pollock and R.E.V. Reken to help me with my decisions in raising our child in a far more "complicated situation".

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