Raising Mexican Americans

A dad’s plan to expose his kids to the best of two worlds

I left Mexico a little over 5 years ago not knowing what was in store for me. Since then I’ve gotten married and started a family. I never thought I’d end up raising kids in a different country than the one I was born in, but in a way it has made me appreciate what I took for granted or even thought about as a cliche. I’m talking about Mexican culture.

I’ll admit I was already “Americanized” before I started living here. My hometown is pretty close to Texas and we would go on shopping trips regularly. You can find almost every american fast food chain (someone even dared to open a Taco Bell). Radio stations play american artists, Mexican bands have songs in English and Hollywood movies are shown with Spanish subtitles at the local theaters.

I’ve come to appreciate my country’s heritage now that I’m not living there and want to pass that on to my children. My wife is first generation Mexican american which would make our kids second generation on their mom’s side first generation on mine. These are the main areas of focus we’ve been working on.

Language

We decided early on that we would speak both English and Spanish to our kids, my wife speaks English to our son and I’m in charge of the Español. It is important for us that our kids are bilingual, mainly so they can communicate with their grandparents and the rest of my family in Mexico. Fun fact: My parents put my two sisters and I in English classes but they don’t speak it. They’re trying to learn it though. Thanks Doulingo!

Food

This one’s easy. I love cooking for my wife and son. I try to cook the food I grew up with every now and then. I can’t make tamales yet but one day…one day.

Mexican gastronomy is so vast that I hope in the near future I can take my family on a gastronomic tour.

It goes a little something like this:

And the list goes on. You get the idea.

Music

We approach music in the house similarly as with the food. Depending on where you are in Mexico you’ll hear different styles of popular or traditional music.

This is me playing a mariachi piece for my son on the kazoo.

I’ve been playing a lot of mariachi, son jarocho and some Mexican pop and rock bands for him. Although I know that salsa isn’t Mexican, it IS in Spanish so we add it to the mix as well.

Special mention to Sonia de los Santos who happens to be from my hometown, now living in NYC, and has a really cool children’s music album. She’s also done some cool collaborations with Dan Zanes.

In conclusion

I know my kids will learn English and US history at school. We’ll celebrate 4th of July and Thanksgiving. They’ll measure their world in inches, feet and miles.

However I hope I can make them realize how much better the metric system is. Base 10, people! Sorry, I get carried away when it comes to the metric system.

Like I was saying, my goal is to expose my kids to the best of two worlds and make them realize how lucky they are to grow in such an ethnically diverse country. I hope they get as excited as I am for them to have twice the history, the food, the culture and traditions as part of their lives.