While many Latinos have moved from their native countries to America to achieve a better future for themselves and their children, experts say it is imperative to encourage Latino children in this country to know their culture. Eliana Tardío, family resource specialist for the Early Steps program and a Hispanic diversity support blogger, says your roots and culture shape your values, beliefs and behaviors.
She adds, “That it is important to give Latino children the opportunity to know where they come from, so that they can identify the need of belonging to our community as they grow up.”
As parents, however, it may always not be easy to make children feel the same love we feel for our roots and sometimes, as they are influenced by so many different nationalities, this becomes an even bigger challenge.
In response to that, Tardio says, ” The love for their roots cannot be inherited, it is instead taught, and it is necessary to nurture that feeling at a young age by talking, sharing and showing that diversity is an advantage that allows them to learn from everybody else.”
Some of her tips for parents who want to strengthen their cultural heritage in their children:
• Celebrating our traditions and involve our children when celebrating national holidays and special occasions celebrated in our countries: “I have always believed that our home is our great cultural environment as Hispanics, and the streets are our direct relationship with the country that has embraced us. We should foster our cultural background without forgetting that our children were born here and are both Hispanic and American; therefore, they need to be bicultural in order to successfully be part of both cultures, following the rules established in this country without losing their identity.”
• Letting your children know their roots: Whether it is by annual visits to our native country, by telephone or on the Internet, or by hosting our relatives, we need to “…integrate them into our extended family, making use of technology and its benefits.”
• Encouraging them to become leaders in their communities, using homework as a way of showing their roots, thus educating everyone else: “By example, preparing a traditional dish at their school’s food fair, or presenting their country’s unique wonders.” She adds, “Being bilingual has given me the opportunity and satisfaction of developing diversity projects that have enabled people around me to understand and learn about our unique Hispanic identity.”