Last week I wrote about the eleven habits of Spaniards that I am living out as mother raising her daughter bilingually and bi-culturally.
That post made me think: bi-cultural means TWO.
There are values and habits that I have grown up with in the United States that I also want to share with my daughter. So, today’s post.
While I want to avoid making gross generalizations about an entire country and her people, I do believe that what follow are six of the most salient cultural values Americans of all sub-groups embrace. And, they’re the ones that, exercised with grace and wisdom, I hope my daughter embraces.
1. Equality –
I know as a country, as a people, we still have a long way to go in achieving equality in all areas of life, for all people and groups. But, what I admire about my country is that we want it. We will fight (and have fought) for it. This tenacity for equality is a quality that I hope E. embraces; I pray that she use her bilingualism to fight for it on behalf of those who cannot.
2. Time –
Time is money, American say.
I never realized how true that is until I lived in a country where the opposite is true (in Spain, it’s all about relationships over time).
I confess that the American in me struggles to fight against the powerful cultural belief that you have to always be productive with your time. “Your” being the operative word. Time, like money, is a valuable resource, and like money, time is to be shared with others. That is what I hope to pass on to my daughter.
3. Creativity –
There’s no such thing as “lo normal.” America is a country of “muchos normales.” Heterogeneity.
You eat dinner at 6pm? Great! Our family eats at 9:30pm.
You’re a strict adherent of “Attachment Parenting?” Glad it works for you. I prefer Dr. Ferber’s “Progressive Approach.”
There are people of all colors, shapes, sizes, beliefs, and personalities. America is a country in which a fifty-something former stay-at-home mother of three with degrees in English and religion is inspired to teach herself how to quilt and write HTML code in order to start a work-from-home business selling patterns and writing books (my mother). It’s a place where innovation and individual thinking are valued. And, I’m excited and eager to watch as my own daughter’s creativity blossoms over the coming years.
4. Sharing –
…is caring. No, really it is.
“Nunca me he sentido tan arropada como en este último mes,” my new friend, S., tells me as I plop three heaping plastic bags of carefully labeled and gently used baby boy clothes on her living room floor. (Translation: “I’ve never felt so clothed – or cared for – as in this last month.”) She and her family of four (soon to be five in April!) just arrived from Valencia, Spain two months ago; we met through Facebook. After our first meeting and learning that she was pregnant, I did what any other American mommy would do for another: ask all my mommy friends if anyone had any gently used baby clothes they no longer needed. And, you can bet they stepped up to the plate – for a mom they didn’t even know!
New neighbors move in across the street. What do you do? Share some baked goods with them, of course! Your child has outgrown his crib and your co-worker is expecting. What do you do? Pass it along!
5. Change –
Change is good. And, it’s not to be feared. I loves this about Americans.
Something isn’t working? Change it. Tired of your hair? Cut it. Weird health symptoms? Change your diet. Feel like you’re spinning your wheels five years at a company? Go back to school for a Master’s. Americans are adventurous, always experimenting, dabbling, probando. Change leads to growth and propels us forward, which leads to the sixth cultural value I hope little E. embraces one day :
6. The Future –
“O, let America be America again –
The land that never has been yet –
And yet must be – the land where every man is free.”
(Langston Hughes 1935)
Americans’ eyes are always set on the mark set before us. We love to imagine the “yet must be” (see #3 and #5). This “yes must be” is a healthy and needed criticism of America’s failure to fulfill some of her promises; it is also a hope that the future will be better.
Dear little E., I pray that as you grow, you are able to separate the good from the bad from both your Spanish and American heritages.
E., don’t be afraid of what the future holds. Be brave and know that you don’t face it alone.