Bridging the Cultural Divide When Grandchildren Are American-Born
When the grandchildren are American-born, everyone in the family needs to figure out a way to bridge the cultural divide. Culture does not pass down through the DNA. Rather, it is more about sharing the same cultural environment. Spending time together is the best way to get to know each other, seed your grains of values and ethics slowly one at a time. You don’t need an extravagant vacation; it is more about quality time together. Conversations about daily life, school, work and friends do not seem to be very exciting, but it is the foundation for building a relationship over time.
It is very hard when the grandparents are living in the home country. You are ten thousand miles away with 11-hours time zone difference, and you may not able to visit frequently.
Families can try making video calls using Facetime, Skype or Google Hangouts. They are easy to use for everyone with a computer, smartphone or iPhone/iPad. Just set up a regular weekly call each other and you may be amazed at the difference it makes. It is also fun using the built-in video camera; you can walk around to show the house, the garden and the family pets.
When the family is together, giving the kids an important role will encourage them to spend time with the grandparents. Ask them to share their favorite biking routes in the neighborhood when the family is out for a walk or treat the grandparents at their favorite restaurants. The elders can teach them how to cook a traditional meal. Making shanghai dumpling, green onion pancakes, Palak Paneer (Indian Fresh Spinach With Paneer Cheese), Dal Makhani (Spicy Black Lentils), or Dum Aloo (Potato Curry) together will be a good bonding experience. Folk tales from the old home country are a wonderful way to share the values and background of festivals or cultural celebrations. Aren’t we glad to have heard the stories of gods and goddesses when we were young?