Traveling Back Home: Raising Bicultural Children Far From Family


Raising Bicultural Children Far From Family

Traveling Back Home

I have been traveling to Puerto Rico once a year with my children since they were babies. It wasn’t always easy and it required sacrifice, but I was important to me that my kids grew up appreciating my heritage and my upbringing. After all, they are 50% Puerto Rican. We also made our way to Ohio at least every other year so they could get to know their Greek roots. So, how do we incorporate travel into family life, especially if parents come from different parts of the world? I am certain that is a question that most parents ask themselves when raising children in this country.

Claudia Solis, co-founder of the website mami en transición, a space dedicated to mothers who seek to reconcile family and professional life, says, “Traveling is not a luxury for my family, it is a necessity since we don’t have any family (not even a cousin!) in Miami. We try to visit each of our families at least twice a year, so we incorporate travel expenses into our annual family budget.” Claudia is from Peru and her husband is from Spain. When they plan their trips, they use one credit card to pay for the plane tickets, the hotel, the tours even, at least six months beforehand, then they make a monthly payment plan. “That way, as it happens often, by the time the trip day arrives, most of it has been already been paid off.”

In my case, now that my parents are older, we switched our time to visit my family to December; that way we are there for the holidays. This means that by July of that year, we get our plane tickets. The sooner you plan your trip, the more you can save.

For the newly immigrated mother and family, the ones that have left and have come back and the immigrant mom and family that is more established, there is a new blog called mamasporelmundo.com.

Co-founders Laura Garcia, a psychologist from Spain and Erica Mirochnik, an educator from Argentina, shared the value of traveling to our country of origin. “There are three major aspects that influence our lives when we go back to visit. One is the relationships forged by our children with family members, the connections that are made every time we visit. Second, for the adults, the opportunity to be with our love ones is like an infusion of renewed energy that can sustain our daily lives without them until we meet again. Lastly, visiting places and people you love enriches our lives.”

One option for larger families is to split up the visits. For example, mom and child can go one time and dad and child can go another time. “Staying with family members can also help,” said Mirochnik.

Solis insists that the most important thing is to spend quality time with family. “That phrase in Spanish, “la sangre es la sangre,” (blood wins out), it is so true. When I see my daughters have the best time with their primos, tíos and abuelos, and enjoy every moment they spend in Peru and Spain, the big effort has had a great payoff.”

I can relate to Solis’s sentiment. One year when my kids where younger, my sister and I were watching all the kids laughing and talking and just having such a great time. I looked at her and said, “they haven’t seen each other for a whole year, and here they are like if it was yesterday…” This is an experience treasured by most families during family visits.

“The hardest part of traveling to our mother country is saying goodbye again,” says Mirochnik. Perhaps it’s better to bid farewell at the house rather than have the family meeting you at the airport. “That way it’s not so sad and there is no added stress between those leaving and those staying behind.”

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