A letter to my expat child

My dearest son,

You were born on foreign shores, as it were. Away from the land your Dad and I call home. I was immediately filled with thoughts of how you'd be away from all the things that make us who we are. Our identity is so closely tied to our country. India is a land rich with traditions and cultural rituals. I thought long about how you would experience all that if you lived away from it.

It's kind of ironic for me to have thought that way, since I myself spent most of my childhood in another country. And yet, somehow I succeeded in building a deep connection with my home soil. I so want you to feel that way too.

Reflections on being an expat parent in this letter to my son.

One option would be to go back. But, as things stand, the country we chose to live in offers a better life and also a safer one. So, for now, we're here in the beautiful UAE.

You're four now, and if I have to look back at how well we managed to educate you about our culture, I'm not very proud. You still prefer speaking in English over our native language. Can't blame you, really. We've changed a lot since moving here too, becoming more integrated with our expat status. There aren't many opportunities we get to celebrate our Indian-ness.

But we try. We try to incorporate our rituals in the simplest ways possible. We celebrate Eid with sewaiyan and kheer. We light earthen lamps on Diwali. And, of course, we watch cricket! We talk about how things are back home, and try to get you excited about visiting your home country for our annual holiday.

Despite all my reservations, I'm happy we're raising you here. You are friends with kids from different cultural backgrounds. To you, they are just friends, and you're already more exposed to more traditions than many adults are. You're growing up with a rich repertoire of experiences and interacting with people from around the world. If that isn't a wonderful childhood, I don't know what is.

We love that this country offers a peaceful life for families, and that there are so many well-maintained parks and beaches for us to go to. We like being able to partake in festivals from around the world, including Halloween, St. Patrick's Day, and the Chinese New Year - something we wouldn't have been able to do back home.

We don't have an extended family to visit on the weekends, but we have each other and friends who are like family. We miss grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, but we also love spending time with them when we visit.

Our decision to be an expat family somehow made itself, and I think it's been perfect for us. I still hope that you will always feel an attachment to your roots. But for now, just be a child and take in all that life is offering you.

Your (expat) mom.

Parenting 5121783390856448118

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