Where am I from?

My little daughter Coco, who is now 6 years of age, is getting really interested in where she comes from! And it is complicated: She has a Franco-Irish mother, who was born in Germany, a New Zealand father and grandparents who live in Italy. She was born in London and now lives in Paris. She is truly part of a multi-cultural generation. No wonder she is in equal measure confused and fascinated!

She has decided to consider herself English, because it is her birthplace after all, and considers her sister French, because she was born in Paris. It is interesting how she wants to be linked to one specific country and already feels like she needs an identity. I am really interested, have you had similar experiences with your children or yourselves?

- Emilie

P.S. Above is a photo of Esther’s and my children. Esther’s kid’s main language is Dutch and for mine it is French, but between them they speak English – a nice side effect of multi-culturalism, no?

7 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Vanessa | September 4, 2012 | Reply

We are in the same situation with our 4 year old. Helena was born in Cape Town, her sister in London, and her father in Holland. Helena has now lived in three continents, 4 countries and 6 different houses! She is so proud that she is from Africa. When we watched the Olympics she’d shout at the SA swimmer, “He’s swimming for me!” And when we see the big five on posters she always says they’re from where I’m from. Identity is a big thing for children and knowing where their roots are is so important. I love to see children with different languages come together – no matter what language they speak they will play together. A wonderful post – thank you for sharing x

2. Marie @etincellestudio | September 5, 2012 | Reply

Similar questions here! My daughter is now 5 1/2 years old and she often asks me to remind her where she was born. She also seems to understand that I am Swiss-French and her father Australian-Filipino. She was born in Bangkok but grew up in Singapore and we are now in Tokyo… Sounds rather complicated to me as well! I am happy though that she absolutely loves the village where I grew up In France. I want her to feel at home there :-).
Thanks fir this meaningful post!

3. Delphine | September 5, 2012 | Reply

Read the Third Culture Kid by Ruth E. Van Reken. A fabulous book to help multicultural kids and families.

4. Esther in Amsterdam | September 5, 2012 | Reply

Haha, Pim thinks he’s from Hong Kong because we once took him there as a baby (but he was born in London). It’s true that all of these languages, places, countries and cultures can be total overwhelming to kids! And yes — so great that our kids all speak English — it makes it so much easier! xxx

5. Traveling Mama | September 5, 2012 | Reply

I do understand. We’re Americans (me with all Greek blood line!), but have lived in three different countries and have moved 20 times in the last 13 years. Our kids also crave a place of belonging and identity and we always fall back on the fact that we are Americans, but last time we visited we all felt a little out of place. I guess that is normal, though!

6. Ana Gaby | September 5, 2012 | Reply

I can totally relate to this. My son is still too young to ask (2 years) but he was “made in” Germany with American and Mexican parts, born in Thailand, being raised in Indonesia and currently visiting his “abuelos” in Mexico. We are trying to encourage our two boys to find their identity in God, our values and family rather than a specific country but maybe he will decide he’s Thai afterall… He does eat tons of rice and would rather eat noodles than pizza!

7. Berlin Kangaroo | September 11, 2012 | Reply

Our family roots are not quite so wonderfully exotic as all your situations, I am Australian my husband is German and we live in Berlin. I spent 10 years in London before settling here and having our two boys. The eldest, Harry is now 3 and a half and is very certain that although born in Berlin he is half Australian.
He is very quick to recognise children that also speak a second language as well as they speak their first (bilingual) “they are just like me mummy’. And he gets impatient with children who don’t have a grip on english because ‘they don’t have so many happy things to say and ways to say them as I do mummy’.
One thing I worry about raising my boys in Germany is that their very open and friendly ‘Aussie’ personalties will be worn down by a surrounding culture that is not as quick or trusting to smile or say hello.
What I love about their own roots is the interest and openness to others it seems to inspire…interest in other cultures, other languages, other lands, other people.
Well at least at 3 and a half this is very clear with Harrison.

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