Here’s the awesome news: You will be parents!
Here’s the other awesome news: Your family is bicultural or even multicultural!
And suddenly you and your partner ask yourselves in which language you will talk to your little baby. Will you celebrate Thanksgiving or Sukkot? Will you have your child baptized or circumcised? Are you going to organize an enormous “Quinceañera” birthday when your daughter is becoming 15? Or will it rather be a “sweet 16”? Will she need to wear a headscarf when she’s older?
Or all of this? Or non of this? Or your own mix?
If you find yourself in a position like this, I hope the following 7 points will help you to find your own answers when raising your child with different cultures – make it the way it fits best to you and your family!
#1: Create your own traditions or set clear rules
The probably most discussed problem for multicultural families is how to deal with rituals and traditions. Of course you have been raised up with your traditions and your partner has his own traditions. These can be religious traditions but also just what you normally do in daily life. As you both experienced those traditions from a very young age, keeping these traditions is very sensible for you – both of you. The only problem: You can’t live a family tradition without the family!
Here is what you can try:
1) Pick out the most important traditions and rituals for you and celebrate them all with mutual interest. For example, celebrate the Japanese 3-5-7 festival for your little girl as well as the Latin American 15-birthday party.
2) Where you have to decide for only one way, discuss it until you both agree. Then stick to it. You can’t be Muslim and Jewish at the same time. If you decide for one, then stick to that religion in terms of your child.
3) Make your own mix where you can. Instead of a German Christ Stollen or an Italian Christmas Panettone you can make up a new recipe and make it your new family tradition – maybe other family parts will love it too! Or have the Stollen one year and the Panettone the next.
Always remember that besides all discussions at the end your family is becoming so much richer of traditions and rituals than without the other culture(s)!
#2: Show mutual respect for each culture 
This seams rather obvious. Still, have you never found yourself thinking something like: “I don’t want my Canadian partner talk French to our child – it’s sounds so awful compared to my proper French from France”? Or: “What importance does Papua New Guinea has anyhow to my child’s education?”. The truth is, that we can never be totally tolerant to the other culture. The other truth is, that this shouldn’t be important to your child. Don’t just regard a culture for its “economic” assets (relevance in economy, politics, education, etc.). Try to see, what other great values it has and it can give to your child. Although your partner’s home country might be a dictatorship, a third-world-country or whatever but for sure it has wonderful and open people or is doing extraordinary in arts craft. Any bits and peaces might become important to your baby.
#3: You can’t have everything but there is more
Let me give you a quick example. Let’s assume, you and your partner are also biracial. Lets say, you are black and your partner is white. Most likely you will never have a purely black or purely white baby. But – and that’s just awesome – your baby will have its very own skin color of a very unique mix of both of you! The same goes with cultures. Your baby won’t be THE German or THE American. Instead, it will be a mix of both and most likely your baby will inherence so much more by being more cultural sensible than monoculture babies.
#4: Don’t teach prejudices
Maybe you have noticed that when researching about multiculturalism, most information available is about stereotypes. The truth is that lots of these stereotypes have their right of existence and we don’t have to be ashamed to have prejudices. It’s actually part of our world culture to teach those prejudices. As the world is doing enough of this, try not to add to them when raising up your child. Rather foster your little one to ask a lot of questions and stay curious. This also includes to avoid saying: “your granny just pampers your dad too much, like all Italian mums do” but rather think and say something like: “your granny is just so full of love for your dad so as I am with you”. You get the difference?
#5: Let them make their own insights
Being too long away from your home country alters the way you remember it. Rather than talking about how wonderful (or bad) your origin county is, you better give your kid the opportunity to make its own, fresh experience. Visit the country (if your child is older, it’s also a great way to let it travel alone, for example staying with the grandparents). Meet up with your folk. Inspire to read and reflect independent literature about the country. Let them watch regional TV. And so on. Be also honest to yourself and your child. If you miss your home country and glorify it for that reason, tell your child how you are feeling and that you can’t be objective.
#6: Accept your child preferences
“Mummy, I hate Thailand” Have you ever heart this? It hurt’s, doesn’t it (when you are Thai)? For whatever reason, your little one might go through a phase of idolizing or hating one of its cultures. But you have to respect your child’s decision. This is particularly difficult when you feel that your child prefers your partner’s culture to yours. Don’t take it personal! As anyone, your child needs to pass different phases within its development. Each of the cultures your kid is confronted with forms part of its identity. So its absolutely normal that within this development, your child will have phases where it focuses or neglects parts of himself. With the time, your child builds up its own personality – and weather you like it or not, you have to accept this.
#7: Don’t emphasize too much!
Last but not least: Just relax! Yes, your family might come from different parts of the world or live on the opposite side of your origin country. But at the end, we are all unique, independently from where we come from. Alienation and the feeling of being different can happen to all of us – even those who never left their home. So don’t overemphasize by blaming everything on the culture. Lots of your feelings are “just” you and no other compatriot would feel the same.
Do you have other recommendations or examples from your family you want to share? I’m looking forward to hear from them.