Thanks to #BarbieProject for sponsoring this post that discusses heritage and love for our cultural roots.

Part of natural play with kids is learning to talk their language in order for them to understand you. A great way to adopt your child’s ‘mother tongue’ is to use a favorite toy, one that facilitates communication with us. As parents, talking through a favorite toy provides us with the right tools to capture their attention while, at the same time, helping them to feel loved and understood.

In my daughter’s case, the doll that brings us together, representing our story as a family, is Barbie.

Giving our children a sense of their culture and heritage can be challenging for people like us, who are immigrants in America, or for another reason are not in touch with their families or their roots. That’s why voicing our story through their favorite toys is always a great choice.

In my home, every moment is an opportunity to talk about who we are and where we come from. There’s no need for a special occasion or perfect time. Talking about heritage happens in the most normal of circumstances, when we’re relaxed and enjoying one another as family.

When Ayelén brushes her teeth with her electric Barbie toothbrush, I tell her stories about how I used to brush mine when I was her age. We didn’t have electric brushes then, or at least they were not as affordable as they are today. Having a toothbrush with our favorite character on it was a dream, so now that she has it, she needs to celebrate and brush her teeth with joy. Brushing our teeth three times a day to keep them white and shiny is part of who we are, those small and universal lessons are part who we are as well and I love sharing my past with her in this way.

Another good opportunity to talk about the past and memories of my childhood comes when she’s playing with electronics. I always tell her how we used to play 30 years ago. We couldn’t have imagined that one day girls would have their own computer or video games. Life was totally different before technology, and now we can use those devices to watch videos from the country where I was born, a place she belongs to as much as I do.

 

Books are exceptional at getting us together. Books have always been part of our culture and roots. Everybody in our family has loved books, and that’s a tradition that I hope will never change. Reading and writing is something that makes us who we are. It’s part of our heritage so we share books, stories and illustrations to learn about our past, present and future.

Paper dolls! I love the new generation, and when we play with them, I talk about the ones I used to play with. They didn’t last long as they were made of regular paper and they used to get dirty or wet easily. This new generation of paper dolls is easy to clean and to play with. She smiles when I tell her all those old stories of how things used to be, and still are, for children in my mother country.

She has learned of our cultural roots through play since she was a baby, and I hope that soon I can take her there, to experience and embrace our heritage by visiting the country where I was born. It is a country that I love and respect as much as I love and respect the country that adopted me so many years ago. A home that has given me the most wonderful opportunities to grow personally and professionally, and has given my children the most amazing present and future; the United States.

What about you? How do you talk to your kids about cultural roots and heritage?


Eliana Tardio

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