As an immigrant, my Mexican roots, culture, and where I come from make up a big portion of who I am.
At the age of nine, my dad decided to pursue an opportunity through his job which led us to relocate to the US (Grants, NM to be exact). My mom, a successful business law professional, made the decision to support my dad and left her career to become a stay-at-home mom.
They knew this would be an opportunity that would yield so many more opportunities for our family despite the huge sacrifice of leaving our home country and extended family behind.
Moving to a completely different country was rough, to say the least. Not speaking the language and being able to communicate with peers and teachers was one of the hardest things I’ve done–but that’s a story for another post.
From day one, my parents always kept our Mexican culture, language, and traditions a part of our everyday life. We spoke Spanish at home, my mom made the best Mexican food, and we watched Univision and Galavision (Spanish channels).
We read books in Spanish and mom would teach us how to write in Spanish. My younger sister was six and our baby sister was well on her way at the time! One way to stay connected to our roots was by visiting our family in Mexico at least two times per year.
We were taught to be proud of where we came from regardless of what society’s definition of “immigrant” entailed.
How It’s Going
My son is a first-generation Mexican-American citizen and I feel it is my duty to teach him all about his Mexican roots. I know there are many mamas out there trying to do the same. I wanted to share some of the things I am doing to assure my son grows up to know and love where he came from.
1. Celebrate important holidays. In addition to all of the American holidays, we also celebrate holidays that are important in our Mexican culture.
2. Speak your native language at home. My husband is trying very hard to learn Spanish, but the little he knows, he tries to use it with our son. I speak to Isaac in Spanish [almost] all day, every day.
3. Take a trip to the Motherland. Prior to Covid, we would take a couple of trips to visit family and spend a few weeks with them. Our little guy was four months old when he took his first trip. I have a really big extended family, and we are all very close. Needless to say, my little guy was extremely spoiled by all. Since we can’t travel, we try to schedule weekly video calls with different family members to stay in touch.
4. Write down family history. I love listening to my grandmother tell stories about her childhood and where our family came from. As she tells stories, you can just tell how proud she is of our ancestors which makes me feel really proud of those who paved the way for me. She constantly sends old pictures of family members we never met and gives a background story of who they are. This reminds me that I have to do a better job of tracking all this so that one day future generations to come can learn about where they came from.
5. Family interviews. Ask your family members a few questions (there are lots of questionnaires online you can use) and have them either write down their response or record their response. This could be an awesome way to make sure you are actively collecting family history and be able to share with future generations–how cool!
6. Connect with others within your community. Connect with others in your community that share the same background.
7. Books that celebrate your culture. We love books! We try to have a mix of genres and characters to expose our son to a variety. I am still working on gathering books and will try to share once I have a list!
8. Music is such a big part of cultures. We jam out to everything from Vicente Fernandez to Mauluma.
I have come to the conclusion that there are so many different ways to expose our children to their roots. However you choose to do it, I have no doubt it will make an impact on your child. I do not think this process is black and white, so have fun with it and enjoy it! Share any unique ways you educate your kids about their roots.