Bilingual parents engage with their children to encourage learning a new language at home all the time. Today, I’m talking with a great multicultural mom, Maria Wen Adcock from Bicultural Mama.
She is gracious with us today and describes the happy times of being a multicultural mom to her daughters. As a mom and writer, she explains the benefits of having her daughters learn a new language not only from family but her community as well.
Importance of bilingualism at home with Bicultural Mama
1. As a bicultural mom, what do you think it is the most important aspect to teach your children about both cultures?
I think the most important thing is to teach them pride in both cultures. Depending on circumstances, a child’s exposure to both cultures may be uneven. In the long run, this could cause a child not to appreciate or value one culture as much as the other. For example, I live in a town with few Asians.
My parents, who are from China, live in another state. As a result, my children do not have daily access to Asian family and friends who can reinforce their Asian heritage. In this way, I make sure my kids are aware — and proud — of their heritage by educating them about Chinese culture and practicing traditions.
2. Do you have any particular traditions that you share with your kids about your Chinese-American culture?
Food is an important aspect of Chinese culture, so I try to include Chinese foods in many of our meals. They don’t always like to eat it all, but at least they see me cooking and eating it.
A lot about culture is just getting exposed to it. We also celebrate Chinese New Year, the biggest holiday in Chinese culture. They receive lucky money, wear traditional outfits, and eat symbolic Chinese New Year foods.
We also read picture books about Chinese New Year.
Multicultural traditions to encourage language learning
3. Have you taught your kids the Chinese language or do you implement a language learning opportunity for them to learn Chinese? How do you feel about them being bilingual?
I am not fluent in Chinese, though I do understand and can speak some of the languages through my years of attending Chinese School as a child. My parents talked to us in English so that we’d learn the language, but as a result, I never became fluent in Chinese.
My older daughter now attends Chinese School. Along the way, I am relearning a lot through her lessons. My younger daughter is not old enough to go to school yet, but I hope to enroll her once she is of age.
4. Do you have any favorite children’s authors that discuss the importance of bilingualism in the home? Or do you have any favorite children’s books about Chinese-American culture?
My eldest daughter is of reading age now, and her most favorite author is Grace Lin. I once met Grace at a conference for writers and illustrators.
Not only is she a talented writer, but also an inspiring one, too. I love that her books reflect Chinese culture. I can also relate to many of her characters who grew up as one of the few Asians in their town, just like I did.
My daughter loves to read about characters that look like her and have similar backgrounds.
Learn more about incorporating bilingualism
5. What are your message, hope, and goal for your Bicultural Mama parenting site?
I hope that Bicultural Mama can educate and inspire others regarding parenting, culture, and lifestyle (food/travel). I’d love for it to be a trusted resource for not only parents in bi-cultural families but also non-bicultural ones who are interested in learning more about other cultures.
Bicultural Mama does have more of an Asian focus since that is my background and is what I know. However, the site is open to and embraces all cultures.
About the guest author:
Maria Wen Adcock is the founder of Bicultural Mama, a blog that celebrates bi-cultural families and covers parenting, culture, and more. She is a Chinese-American mom in a bi-cultural family living in Long Island, New York who departed from her corporate marketing career to raise her two young children and to pursue freelance writing.