Being a young adult, specifically if you’re in your 20s or close to it, is an interesting time. On one hand, you still feel like a child in so many ways, but on the other hand, you are suddenly considered mature enough to start thinking about things like career, marriage, and kids.
While I still have no idea what I’m doing with my life, I have been thinking a lot lately about what I want my future to be like, specifically what it would be like if I one day have kids, and there are some things that I’m sure about.
I have grown up in North America, but I am still fairly in touch with my roots. I go back to India almost every year, I understand Indian traditions and culture, and I love the fact that I have such a diverse mix of both Indian and American traditions instilled in me. I want to raise my future kids the same way.
It’s scary when you meet people who have absolutely no connection to their family background or heritage, who have never visited the country their parents are from or look down on their roots. I refuse to let that happen; I refuse to let my kids be the type who refuse to embrace their heritage at least a little because I think it’s so important to know where you come from.
I don’t want my kids to grow up being the people who are completely out of place if they visit the country or countries their parents are from. I do not want them to grow up being unable to adjust to different situations, or being the type of bratty kids who constantly complain when they go back to my country and are put in a social situation they are not used to. I have had my extended family tell me that they’re surprised by how easily I can connect to all of them, regardless of the fact that we live on different continents and in different cultures, and I want people to say the same about my future kids.
My parents always kept me linked enough to my culture that I can easily adapt when I go back to visit, and I want my kids to be able to the do same. I might not know how to properly speak my mother-tongue, but I at least know how to understand it. I know what the social cues are for when I go back to India, I know how to talk and act. I want my children to be able to try and do as much as that.
Obviously, no culture is perfect. That’s a given. But I want my future kids to know about both the pros and cons of their heritage.
I want them to embrace the good parts of it while being informed about the imperfections that also exist.
As much as I love the traditions in my culture, I also know that things such as misogyny and rape culture exist. However, I refuse to conform and continue on with such things that are nothing but detrimental. I will ensure that my kids know these issues exist, but I will also teach them how to battle these. I will teach them to contribute to society, both the one they will live in as well as the one that their roots are based in, and show them how to help eliminate societal issues.
The idea of my kids coming home one day and asking me who Aishwarya Rai is or not knowing why Mahatma Gandhi is a relevant figure in Indian history is scary. The idea of my kids not knowing the beauty of roadside food in India (that can potentially get you sick, but is so worth it) or never wearing traditional clothes like a saree or lehenga is terrifying.
I refuse to let that happen.
I want them to grow up knowing that you do not only have to adapt to one certain society; there is beauty in being diverse and understanding how many different cultures work, and being able to fit in well in more than just one.