Pinay Opens Up on Raising Multicultural Son | Pinay.com
Cultural Identity has always fascinated me, particularly because I am a Filipina by birth, though raised by a white American family. As much as I have become Americanized, I have always strived to have a sense of cultural pride.
I was born in the Philippines and adopted at the age of five by my white American family. Even at this young age, it was obvious to me that not only was I a brown person living in Connecticut, but my understanding of my birth culture would be a significant part of my identity today. Perhaps, it was because of my adoption that I had such a rabid need to know anything and everything about my birth country and what it meant to be Filipino.
It is with this cultural pride that I raise my multicultural son, Noah, now seven years old. His father is part Italian and German.
When I found out I was pregnant I was excited about the prospect of raising my child in New York City that is undoubtedly diverse and colorful—something I did not have while I was growing up.
I have lived in this City for over 10 year now and could not think of a better place to raise my son. Growing up he has attended numerous Filipino events. He marched in the Philippine Independence Day parade, participated in the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) and the Filipino American History Month. I also enrolled him in Paaralan sa Konsulado (PSK), a cultural and heritage workshop that meets at the Philippine Consulate every Saturday for 5 weeks in the summer. I have made it a point to integrate all things Filipino with him.
I encouraged him to wear t-shirts with Filipino words and images and let him carry the Philippine flag during the events we went to and whenever her chose to. I taught him the few Filipino words that I had learned. I introduced him to try Filipino cuisine and to learn the names of the dishes, all in hopes that he would want to identify with his Filipino half. At four, he told me he wanted to be a full Filipino—not half. I found his statement to be profound and realized that he should be aware of his other heritage. From then on I emphasized his other ethnic origins.
Since the World Cup began a few weeks ago, it has been a perfect opportunity for me to talk about the many different participating countries with my son. I purchased the official FIFA World Cup sticker book for him where he can collect stickers of each participating country, the teams and its members and the flag of the nation, among others. I also decided to get him an Italian soccer jersey that he ended up wearing for days until it was too stained. He instantly attached himself to the idea that not only is he Filipino like his mother but he is also Italian like his father.
Looking back, I am forever grateful to my American mother who took great strides to acknowledge my own birth heritage. She bought a small collection of books about the Philippines that was on my bookshelf if I ever wanted to look at them. At one point she bought a subscription to a newsletter about the Philippines that was sent to my home every month–long before there were cultural publications available.
It was such a grand gesture from my mother. I did not appreciate its importance until I had my own child. I have since stocked my bookshelf with Filipino-related books that I read to my son.
Growing up, I felt the support of my family who was open to talk about race and culture, even when, at times, we did not agree with each other.
My children, your children will be exposed to so much in their early years of childhood from school, their friends or groups they associate with. As parents and guardians we are the ones who can inspire them to appreciate their mixed cultural heritage.
Let us teach (self) love. Let us teach diversity. Let us instill them with pride that they are Filipinos.
Lorial Crowder is based in New York City. She is proud of her Philippine roots and has written Don’t Forget to Honor Our National Heroes for Pinay.com. She has also written stories on adoption and interviewed by The FilAm, a New Jersey-based online magazine. All photos are courtesy of the author.
Three words that best describe me - unpredictable, abundant energy and sassy.
I was born in the Philippines and adopted when I was five by my American family. I grew up in Connecticut always realizing I was not the typical american but non the less survived my adolescence thanks to my involvement in sports (lacrosse and field hockey) and the undying support from my family.
I spent two years in ohio to attend college before moving to boston to participate in the Americorps City Year program and eventually received my Bachelors in Sociology and minor in Asian American Studies from UMass Boston.
At the same time my curiosity about my Filipina heritage and culture peaked and i sought out organizations that I thought best reflected the Fil-Am experience. I began to organize around issues of Fil Ams, in particular positive identity development as a pinay and presently the Filipino adoptee experience.
I currently live in one of the most amazing cities - NYC as a stay at home mom to my 7 year old son. I received my MSW in Community Organizing and Planning from Hunter College.