What is it like to raise your children in a different culture?

Raising Kids in a Different Culture

by Kelly Sundstrom

If you raise your kids in a typical suburb in America, your little ones may not have a chance to experience other cultures from around the world. However, if you or your husband are employed by a company who has relocated you to a different part of the world, your child may get a chance to be raised in a different culture. How exciting! Your lucky little one will have the opportunity to grow up seeing the world in all its splendor and diversity.

1. Becoming Bilingual

One of the best benefits of raising your little one in a different culture is that she may be able to learn a different language -- and perhaps even become bilingual. Some areas of the world even offer an opportunity to expose your toddler or preschoolers to multiple languages. For example, if you live in Europe, your child can learn German, French, Dutch and Italian. If you live in South America, your child can learn to speak Portuguese and Spanish. Before you leave your home in order to live in a different culture, consider teaching your child some of the basics of the other languages that she will learn. You may even try a software program, such as Rosetta Stone or Muzzy.

2. Different Traditions

Do you love the holidays and traditions that you are used to at home? You may worry that you have to leave these traditions behind and that your toddler or preschooler will not get to experience them. Not true! Not only can you bring your own customs and traditions wherever you go, but you will be able to expose your little one to traditions from other parts of the world. For example, you can celebrate Christmas with a miniature tree and gingerbread house decorating, while allowing your child to celebrate the Chinese New Year if you live in Asia. Taking part in the local traditions enables your child to see that every culture has its own customs that are meaningful and part of the society.

3. Greater Compassion

People raise children all over the world, including areas of poverty and strife. Suppose you are not going to live in a different culture for the monetary benefits. In fact, many people choose to live in third world countries to help other cultures through missionary work or charity. When you have your child with you in a third world country, it helps him to see that there is suffering in the world, which can build his inner compassion for other people. Although it can feel sad and heartbreaking to see hungry children or people living in rough conditions, it will help build your little one's character and will encourage him to help others.

4. Broader Worldview

Not everyone in the world lives in a suburb, watches television and shops in a supermarket. Different cultures in the world are as diverse as leaves on a tree. Although people are still people, religions, skin colors, lifestyles and foods are different all over the world. When you show your little one how diverse the world is, it allows her to grow up with a much broader worldview that will help her become more tolerant and thoughtful about other cultures when she grows up.

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