Immigrant families have been separated. Naturalized citizens are being detained. Individuals are being deported. And through it all there is a lot of ignorance being perpetuated by people who believe immigrants are somehow hurting this country. Meanwhile, immigrants are working hard, raising their families, and living the American dream our politicians love to talk about behind podiums and on the Senate floor. That's why there are more than a few things immigrant moms do that American-born moms should try, especially if we all truly believe that America is the melting pot we love to claim it is.
I’m not an immigrant mother myself, but I did grow up with one. Raised in Miami, Florida, I was also surrounded by immigrant mothers and their families. All my best friends were first-generation kids, like myself, so I had a lot of first-hand and second-hand knowledge about immigrant mothers and how they go about raising their children. And while there are so very many similarities, the differences highlight how important immigrants are to our culture and the legacy that America prides itself on.
They Encourage Their Kids To Take Their Education Seriously
Yes, plenty of American-born parents emphasize the importance of an education, and some immigrant parents don’t, but hear me out. There are many immigrant parents who didn't have the educational opportunities American-born children often take for granted. Many first-generation kids are the first in their families to attend college or even graduate high school.
Immigrant moms can always push the fact that education was potentially not so easy to obtain, which can really set a kid straight when they're complaining about their homework.
They Make It A Priority To Pass Along Their Cultural Heritage
There are many reasons why immigrants might want to pass their culture to their American-born kids. They might long for what they’ve left behind, and this is one way to celebrate it in their new home. They might feel that this is how their kids will be able to connect with family and with their history. Whatever the case, it seems some American-born parents might not think as much about cultural heritage as immigrant parents to. But even if it’s just the culture of your local town where your family has lived for years, it’s still worth celebrating and sharing.
They Show Their Kids How To Be Proud Of Their Background
We all want our kids to be proud of who they are, and of course American-born parents have some love for their culture, too. Maybe they’re happy to be farmers, or they’re die-hard fans of their local sports teams, or they connect with their ancestral heritage. But that pride should never erase the pride others have for their backgrounds, or somehow disregard the legacies of other groups of people.
They Teach Their Kids To Respect Adults
Growing up, I was always shocked (and maybe sometimes envious) of the way American-born parents were OK with their kids raising their voice, talking back, or even dropping a curse word or two. I was not allowed to do any of those things, as it was seen as a sign of disrespect. While I don’t feel it’s necessary to resort to being wholly authoritarian all the time, I can appreciate how my parents taught me to be respectful of others and especially my elders.
They Raise Bilingual Or Even Multilingual Kids
In this day and age, there’s no reason not to teach your kids more than one language. Many immigrant parents might teach their kids their native language, so they're bilingual almost inadvertently. Others, however, make a concerted effort to teach their children more than one language because they recognize the power of being bilingual.
Meanwhile, we still have people in this country publicly attacking multilingual people for daring to speak a language other than English.
They’re Open To Alternative Medical Remedies
I don’t exactly mean homeopathic remedies, either. I’m talking about Vaporub, and Windex, and sipping chamomile tea, and eating tons of raw garlic, and having an egg rubbed all over the body. Some of it might seem a little... off, but there’s often a little nugget of truth or effectiveness in these kinds of remedies of the old countries.
They Take Advantage Of Modern Medicine
Look, the egg thing I mentioned earlier? Probably isn’t all that effective. But you know is affective? Vaccines. Some immigrants come from countries that don’t have the access to all the same modern medical marvels we tend to take for granted, so when they're here they're all about taking advantage of medicinal and scientific advancements.
Meanwhile, there are folks born in the United States choosing to forego necessary vaccines based on a bunch of pseudo-science. (Anti-vaxxers are predominantly white and middle or upper class, just FYI.)
They Teach Their Kids To Be Grateful
Not saying that American-born parents don't teach their kids to be grateful for the things they have and the opportunities afforded to them, but hear me out. Growing up lower working class in a one-bedroom duplex and zero family vacations, I learned to appreciate the little things. For example, one of my favorite memories is of a drive my family took toward the Florida Keys where we grabbed some hotdogs and played with a camera and then went home. These were gas station hot dogs, mind you, but I was grateful to spend time with my family.
Meanwhile, my son sometimes gets a bit grouchy when he doesn't get a new car at the grocery store. I'm doing my best to teach him not to act spoiled, and I know it's going to take a little more effort on my part, but that's why I'm so grateful that I have an immigrant mother to look up to.