How I'm Sharing My Chinese Roots With My Mixed Race Baby

asian mommy blogger
In  celebration of Lunar New Year, I'm sharing my parenting style and how I'm passing on my Chinese heritage to my mixed baby.

how I'm raising my half-chinese baby
eastern or western parenting
mommy blog parenting style
why I'm not going to be a tiger mom
asian mom parenting style
tiger parenting

With Lunar New Year celebrations taking place all over the city, I've been explaining to Des the significance of the holiday while reminding him that he's half-Chinese. At age 2, I highly doubt he can grasp the idea of biracial identity but I know as he gets older he'll be more curious and ask questions about what it means to be multiethnic. And I hope those questions will never end. Explaining one's ethnicity, its origin, its history, and its traditions can't be answered open-endedly. Plus I don't have all the answers for him.  The explanation lies in passing on stories, living shared experiences, and providing him with a stream of constant exposure.

A lot of people ask me if I'll enroll Des in Chinese school. And usually it's formed as an advocacy rather than a question. Apparently language immersion preschool is super trendy right now. They tell me to speak to him in Chinese at home so that he can be bilingual at an early age. Nope, I'm not doing it. My husband is Caucasian. He doesn't speak Mandarin and I think it would be very exclusionary to speak it in front of him.  Plus, my Chinese sucks and I don't want to teach my son butchered Chinese. Instead of focusing on his Chinese language skills, I'd rather expose him to the culture through storytelling and shared experiences so that he understand it and can then form his own thoughts on what it means to be Chinese. And if he's thoroughly interested and wants to learn the language, then I will be there to wholeheartedly and happily support his decision. Maybe I'll even go to Chinese school myself. 

I think the reason I'm taking such a laid-back approach is because I was raised by the strictest of tiger moms and I hated it. It wasn't her fault. Being a strict disciplinarian was part of her cultural identity. She grew up in Communist China, where censorship, uniformity, and overachieving were part of the country's shared constitution. Plus, she'd just immigrated to the US and hardly had the time, money, or energy to explore alternative parenting styles. She simply didn't know any other way to parent. I was not allowed to go out with friends, couldn't watch TV,  date boys, or talk back to her. So what did I do? I snuck out at night, had strings of boyfriends, would smoke at school during lunch with my hooligan friends, and muttered "bitch I hate you" under my breath every time she yelled at me, which was quite often because she was always yelling at me.  Though my grades were okay, I was by no means a 4.3 GPA student. All that discipline and I didn't turn out to be the model cub. But it did greatly damage my relationship with her. I resented her throughout my adolescence and didn't like her until I was in my 20s. 

At the end of the day, maintaining a loving relationship nurtured by mutual respect and open dialogue is really important to me. Because you know what, I want my son to always like me.