FRANCE: Bi-Cultural Child And Single Motherhood

FRANCE: Bi-Cultural Child And Single Motherhood

marie_februaryI think it’s important when raising a bi-cultural child to find a balance between both the mother’s and the father’s upbringing and cultural backgrounds. The truth is, it’s not always that simple. As a single mom who is raising a Half-French, Half-Egyptian boy, I can say it’s quite tricky most of the time. My son’s father is not very involved in his life. He is around, but Skype chats are not the best way to establish a peaceful and steady relationship while teaching a young child about a far-away culture.

I decided that I could be the one talking about this other part of who he is. We started with a small photo book that I built from photos that I took on a trip when we were still married, showing the country, the village where his dad grew up, his dad’s family members and some nice spots around. Whenever he wants, he can ask me to have a look at it.

We have other resources at home, such as books and songs. I don’t speak Arabic but I know a couple of words, so we learn them together.

As he is growing up, I am keen for my bi-cultural child to know the culture from another perspective: the food and tastes of Egypt, the colors, the history, the way people are living, and how they are different from us.

For this, Internet is of great help.

When it comes to religion, I use books. I am interested in religion in general and I’d like my son to learn more about it. As his dad and I could not agree on anything, I decided not to give my son any religion. He will choose later. Still, we are talking about it, about Islam and Christianity.

As a matter of fact, I wanted to take him with me to Egypt, but right now things are too hectic and crazy with his dad. So I made a long-term plan to go to Egypt with him, when he’ll be old enough to travel without any worry.

Some days I would love to have somebody to do this for me, somebody I could rely on when I don’t have answers to some of his questions, as I have my part to deal with too. I have to be careful not to overdo things and accept that sometime my child does not want to hear about his dad and his dad’s story.

But I have to say it’s a relief that I don’t resent the culture and the man. It is helping my boy to know about his roots, the roots that will help him grow stronger and understand that our world differences are a chance.

And you? Tell me, how are you teaching your bi-cultural child about cultural differences?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Marie Kléber of France. Photo credit to the author.

Marie Kléber

Marie is from France and is living near Paris, after spending 6 years in Irlande. She is a single mum of one, sharing her time between work, family life and writing, her passion. She already wrote 6 books in her native langage. She loves reading, photography, meeting friends and sharing life experiences. She blogs about domestic abuse, parenting and poetry @

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KENYA: Spare the Kiboko, Spoil the Mtoto

KENYA: Spare the Kiboko, Spoil the Mtoto

I hunched my back to fit through the doorway of the mud and thatch hut, my baby in my arms. The woman inside welcomed me with a “karibu,” her own baby suckling at her breast. The hut was dark with only light spilling in from two small windows but my eyes adjusted quickly. It was decorated with free calendars and unsmiling photos of family members hung high on the mud walls, like so many other homes I’d entered in my two years in Kenya. As we spoke, through a translator who knew the local Luyha dialect, chickens wandered in the hut and were shushed away without a thought.

I had spent the past two days living with a family in a rural village with my baby and 3 year old son talking with local woman about their experiences as mothers. My son was outside playing easily with the children in the compound despite the language barrier.

The conversation was going well. Her 2 small children had entered the hut and sat quietly during our discussion. But at some point my son came rushing in, insisting emphatically, in only the way a 3 year old can, that he was ready to go. His whining was incessant. “Mama mama mama. Can we go? Can we go? can we go?!” The conversation stopped and everyone turned to view the spectacle. Summoning my best “parenting in public” skills, I lovingly (with an undercurrent of “you are going to get it when we get home”) told him to stop and that we’d leave shortly. This was met only with louder and more insistent, back arching whining.

I was embarrassed. I had done all that I could to avoid this scenario. Before we left for this particular visit, I got down on Caleb’s level, looked him in the eye and made him promise to behave if he wanted to join me (he had begged to come along). We agreed that if he couldn’t behave he would not be coming with me again. All of this to no apparent effect. (more…)

Mama Mzungu (Kenya)

Originally from Chicago, Kim has dabbled in world travel through her 20s and is finally realizing her dream of living and working in Western Kenya with her husband and two small boys, Caleb and Emmet. She writes about tension of looking at what the family left in the US and feeling like they live a relatively simple life, and then looking at their neighbors and feeling embarrassed by their riches. She writes about clumsily navigating the inevitable cultural differences and learning every day that we share more than we don’t. Come visit her at Mama Mzungu.

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