How do you teach your children to be proud of who they are? Not just proud of their personality or the person they have and will become. But how do you teach them to be proud of their heritage, their cultural background and all that may surround that?
I’ve never really taken much notice of Egyptian politics. It has always felt so distant to me. I was born here, raised here and I’ve never been there. I never met any of grandparents and I still have so much family I’ve never met. I’ve always heard snippets and stories of the hardships, the prejudices, but it always felt so removed to me.
This time though, with the current, horrific turmoil taking place, I’m finding myself drawn to it. I’ve been seeking out alternative media sources to know more, to form my own opinion on what’s going on and to be involved. My parents are glued to skype and Arabic TV stations online to keep up with the news. They are passionate, angry and worried.
What gets me is the little remarks from people in the Western world that I keep seeing on social media. Things like, “perhaps they should go back to being run by Pharaohs”, or “this is what happens when Religions rule or Islam governs”. I think about what people might say or think when my children are asked of their heritage, or the dreaded question “Where are you from?” because brown skin and dark eyes means you are NOT from around here *insert eye roll*. I don’t want this stigma to be tied to part of their origin. And I know that’s not realistic and that this is inevitable. So I guess, I just want them to be able to say it with pride and ignore all the assumptions and stigma that comes with it. I want them to feel lucky to be in a country where they can make friends with people from all different faiths and cultures. I want them to feel lucky to have freedoms in education, equality and the workforce. But I don’t want them to feel like in order to do that they need to feel LESS lucky to be half-Egyptian.
Being Egyptian means they get to say they have ties to one of the most exotic and mysterious countries in the world. They get to say they have ties to a country with the most amazing historical and biblical locations. They also are exposed to awesome foods and experiences because of it.
As for fighting all the stigmas and assumptions some people make, eg. you must be Muslim, or you must be a terrorist (no they’re not the same). Well I hope they can explain that Christians are a minority in Egypt. That they only make 10% of the enormous population. And they are lucky to have grandparents who were part of that 10% which is a part of who they are today.
So how can you teach all that? I guess you just have to live it. Show them what it’s like. Pay respect to that side of their heritage as equally as paying respect to being Australian. Never forget it, embrace the culture and the good things about it. I’m lucky to have an Aussie husband who is equally committed to making sure of all of the above.
Are you from a multicultural family? How do you plan on instilling cultural pride in your children?