It’s no secret that grandparents often have a special bond with their grandchildren. This relationship can be incredibly important in preserving culture and traditions. Let’s be honest, as parents, we’ve got a lot on our plates. For parents raising multicultural kids, passing down your culture and even language can sometimes feel like too much. In this podcast episode, Nanny Jen shares some ways she has seen grandparents come alongside their kids to help pass along their culture, even if they don’t live nearby. This conversation, and this free guide, will help you enjoy the role of grandparents in preserving culture within your family.
Who is Nanny Jen?
She has parented 20 kids from bottles to backpacks but she didn’t set off to become a nanny. She began as a bench chemist and then became a classroom teacher. When she reached the height of her career as a teacher she decided to head into a position that would teach her more about discipline, which meant heading back to the beginning and working with the youngest of kiddos.
How does culture influence parenting?
Parents in different cultures often have different approaches to parenting. As a nanny, Jen has had the opportunity to learn many different parenting styles. She mentioned that French parents do not give up their identity when becoming a parent. Instead of becoming Antoinette’s mom, a French mother would say, “No, I am Eloise. Yes, Antionette is my daughter but I am still Antionette.” They view parenting as a job but it does not become their new identity as it often does for American moms. They treated their children as competent unless proved otherwise.
The German parents she worked with, on the other hand, were all about efficiency. They didn’t take a bunch of extras out with them. They took only the bare necessities with them and got rid of anything that felt too fussy or too much.
The Indian families she worked with preferred to give their kids a hot meal for every meal. It was important for them to have that time together as a family.
Jen mentions that how recently they immigrated influences how much the culture impacts their parenting styles but regardless of where they are from or how recently they’ve come to the US, the grandparents are the ones that fulfilling the role of the culture keepers.
Parents are often too overwhelmed to do things beyond daily parenting tasks- getting kids to sleep, fed, and all the things done. The role of grandparents in preserving culture can be fulfilled through food, teaching language, visits, teaching about cultural festivals and traditions, etc.
She mentions that many grandparents feel afraid, especially in multicultural families, that their culture will be lost. Nanny Jen views it differently, she said it is an opportunity to keep the best parts and “edit out” the worst parts. “And all cultures have worst parts,” she says.
What consent means for little kids?
One of the tranings that Nanny Jen gives is about consent for the youngest learners. She mentions that all human beings, no matter how old have the right to give bodily consent. For babies, that could be as simple as explaining to them what you are doing while you change their diaper and providing them the opportunity to help. In her example, she mentions asking them to lift up their bottom so that you can slide the diaper underneath.
For older kids, that could be rejecting a commonly accepted way of greeting one another in certain cultures (think hugs and kisses) because it doesn’t feel comfortable. As parents, even if our elders or those living in that culture don’t agree, we can defend our child’s desire to be greeted differently.
Tips for dealing with the pre-teen years
As the conversation was coming to a close, Nanny Jen also offered up some great tips for dealing with the pre-teen years, which are generally from ages 9-12. She mentions that we can:
Remember that the desire to separate is normal.
Game-ify the comments so they feel less hurtful.
Instead of focusing on showing empathy, listen and reflect back, giving them space to share their own thoughts and feelings.
As you can see, Nanny Jen is a fountain of knowledge (she even mentions that the TK at the end of her website stands for total knowledge!). If you’d like to learn more about her, be sure to visit her website: https://nannyknowledge.tk/. While you are there, download her guide for assisting the role of grandparents in preserving culture and creating space for that relationship through food.