I’d like to introduce a new book that looks like it would be appealing to many readers here. Rachel Dines is guest posting a review of her book.
Being a parent is challenging enough, but for those raising their children in a country that is foreign to them, a whole new level of difficulty is introduced. I have spent time living in the USA, as a parent of a pre-school age child, but it was only ever a temporary situation and that time constraint saved an awful lot of thoughts, worries and longer-term complexities.
Meghan Peterson Fenn is a Korean-American who married an Englishman. She has three children, all of whom were born in Britain and through Bringing Up Brits she shares the range of emotions and social experiences she went through, and to a certain extent, is still going through today. I am a British mother who married a British man and we live in England. This is something that I am grateful for after reading this book, because it has kept my, my children’s and my family’s life simple and happy with family being close by. Reading this book demonstrated to me that living abroad permanently or for the majority of your children’s youth is not just a physical re-location decision. It is a decision that also changes your extended family’s lives and the people your children will ultimately become.
Bringing Up Brits helps the reader to see just how much they have, possibly unknowingly, been influenced by their own and other cultures during their life and how this is reflected through their parenting. The situations of the case study families discussed in the book show how birth nationality is of varying importance to each individual and how hard it can be to explain to children why your roots or where you grew up should matter to them. I found that the book demonstrates that there is often a case of “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” but that this isn’t to say that cultural identity can’t be re-instated, albeit sometimes to a limited extent. Meghan covers topics in Bringing Up Brits that may often be overlooked within the subject of cross-cultural parenting, from the difference in real and emotional identities and the accessibility of cultural traditions to parenting children that may not recognise their nationality as part of their own identity. However, Meghan’s personable tone makes the book a light read and her story of confusion over what “fancy dress” meant during her first Christmas in the UK made me laugh.
I think guilt is a significant part of the difficulty of being so far away from our families. And feeling guilty is lonely and isolating because no one understands it. My husband understands why I feel guilty, but it’s not his guilt so he doesn’t have to live with it. Mollie, an American mother of 4 says,
“I do feel like I have hurt my parents by not being close by to share my children and their lives with them.”
Bringing Up Brits: Expat parents raising cross-cultural kids in Britain is available from Amazon