Australia is a welcoming destination for skilled migrants and their families. However, navigating the journey of raising children in a new country, while instilling a sense of cultural pride, can be a unique challenge. In this enlightening discussion, Emmagness, Orode, and Olivia, skilled migrants from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Ghana respectively, share their experiences and strategies for nurturing cultural identity in their children.
Emmagness recalls a pivotal moment when her daughter expressed a desire to conform: “She came home one time utterly distressed and said, ‘Mama can you just make my hair look like everyone else’s?’” This heartfelt plea prompted Emmagness to take action. She initiated “Cultural Talks” at her daughter’s school, providing a platform to celebrate diversity. Through these talks, children learned about different cultures and heritage, leading to a newfound appreciation for each other’s backgrounds.
Emmagness emphasizes the importance of empowerment: “You can only be empowered when you’re informed.” Her approach, rooted in education and empowerment, helped her daughter develop a strong sense of pride in her heritage.
Orode, a proud Nigerian Australian, sheds light on the dual identities her children navigate. “At home, they are trying to fit in – to be Nigerian. But when they get out of the house, then they’re Australians and want to be identified as an Australian.” This balancing act, Orode acknowledges, can be a source of internal conflict for her children.
Orode believes in fostering an open environment for questions and curiosity. She encourages respectful inquiries about cultural differences, emphasizing that understanding begins with respectful curiosity. Orode’s approach seeks to bridge the gap between different worlds, allowing her children to embrace their dual heritage with pride.
Olivia, who arrived in Australia from Ghana at the age of five, understands the complexities of growing up as a minority. She reflects on her daughter’s struggle to fit in, saying, “Why don’t I have straight hair like everyone else?” To counter this, Olivia reinforces her daughter’s cultural background, emphasizing the strength and resilience of her identity.
Olivia advocates for a positive response to curiosity: “There’s nothing wrong with being different but it’s enriching to be different.” By instilling a sense of pride in her daughter’s heritage, Olivia empowers her to navigate the world with confidence.
These three remarkable parents offer valuable insights for skilled migrants raising children in Australia. Their stories highlight the importance of empowerment, education, and positive reinforcement in nurturing cultural pride. As Orode wisely notes, “It’s changing that conversation, making it positive and giving them that sense of pride.” By embracing their heritage and sharing it with the world, these parents are not only enriching their children’s lives but also contributing to a more inclusive and culturally diverse Australia.
In the words of Emmagness, “We’re all learning something, and the more we teach, I think the better this world will be, especially for kids – they need that.” Indeed, their collective wisdom is a beacon of hope for a future where cultural diversity is celebrated, cherished, and respected.
Emmagness, Orode, and Olivia exemplify the strength and resilience it takes to navigate dual identities, proving that with love, education, and empowerment, children can grow up proud of their unique heritage. Their stories serve as an inspiration for all parents embarking on the journey of raising culturally rich and confident children in a new land.
Listen to the full episode of Conversations with Friends and share your thoughts with us! Let us know, how are you raising your children to have pride in their cultural heritage.