If you’re going through a bit of a freak-out as an expectant parent, that’s totally normal.
However, immigrant parents certainly have every right to be concerned about what their child’s life is going to be like if you’re not raising them in your native country.
But also consider that many immigrants have walked this walk themselves.
After all, if you consistently transfer money back home via services like Remitly and have roots in your newfound home, you not be able to simply up and leave, you know?
Facing the reality of raising a child in seemingly unfamiliar territory might be daunting, but it’s far from impossible. If you’re need of support and peace of mind, simply refer to the following pieces of advice to help guide your parenting strategy when your bundle of joy finally comes.
Two Languages Are Better Than One
In the United States, it’s common practice for immigrant families to stick to the principle of speaking their native language at home while speaking English in public situations.
Learning two languages simultaneously as a child is so much easier than trying to weave in language lessons later in life. The ability to speak your native tongue also creates a unique bond between you and your child.
Also, consider that the long-term benefits of being bilingual speak for themselves in terms of communication, job opportunities and simply expanding your child’s horizons.
Make a Point to Make Friends Locally
As a family, it’s crucial to have connections to local schools, doctors offices and businesses that will ultimately be there for the long haul as you raise your child. If you’ve been shut-ins or really having gone outside your network of expats, you’ll need to do so sooner rather than later. You never know when you might need some help.
Strive to Preserve Your Culture
Teaching your child about culture is a must-do, but teaching them about your own native culture should be an ongoing priority throughout their lives. Whether it’s through language, food or keeping in touch with family back home, it’s important that you preserve a sense of your cultural identity. Again, doing so enriches their own life and keeps you connected to your native land.
There’s no denying that growing up as the child of immigrants can be an inherent struggle. From discrimination and bullying to merely feeling out of place due to their background, strive to understand their frustrations and potential outbursts before they occur. While you certainly can look forward to sunny days ahead, know that there will be some rough ones, too.
Be Present in Your Child’s Life
Although no parent does so consciously, it’s easy to lose sight of what it means to truly be present for your child when you’re trying to wrangle your day-to-day life. Whether it’s supporting their hobbies or attending their events at school, the simple act of “showing up” is crucial to your relationship.
Lastly, don’t second-guess your decision to become a parent as an immigrant altogether. As long as you know that you’re doing what’s best for you and your child, there’s no need to stress yourself out. The fact that you’re concerned means that your heart is in the right place.
There’s no doubt that parents have plenty on their plates and raising a child abroad entails plenty of challenges. Even so, keeping the principles above in mind can help guide you on your journey as a new parent looking to provide the best life possible for your child.