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What's it like being a part of a bicultural family in America?

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

I would say pretty much like most families. Maybe the food is better, you get more holidays but you have to worry about racism, if I had to put it a nutshell.

My husband's family is Taiwanese and I'm white. Like most couples during our courtship phase we did a lot of eating. We bonded over our love of food and willingness to explore. In our home we prepare a mix of American and Chinese dishes. Although I'm usually the one making the American dishes.

His mother is the best cook of all time. FIGHT ME! And luckily we get to benefit from her homemade meals often. Jonathan says she wasn't always but I don't know if those are the words of a former disgruntled kid made to eat their vegetables, exacting their slanderous revenge. All I Know is bao, char siu, hot pot, congee, that red bean paste, I fucks wit it all.

*On a side note I promise to share some recipes here too.

There is this stuff we call pork floss in my house. I forget what it is in Chinese but I'm sure we can google it. Anyway it's like finely shredded pork jerky and it is the bomb-diggity. Make some peanut butter toast, slap some of that pork floss on top and never look back. You're welcome.

Hub's parents are bilingual, speaking both Mandarin and English with Mandarin being their primary. Though they are fluent in English. Hubs is also bilingual but he is not fluent in Mandarin. We are trying to teach Johanna Mandarin but it can be difficult when we need to depend so much on her grandparents for exposure to the language.

I am trying to learn myself but I struggle so much with the tones, it is best if I don't speak. Like for real. That's not a joke. It's so bad. Those Tsz sounds really trip me up too. And no, they haven't taught me the bad words yet. But when I learn 'em, I will make sure to report back. Speaking of bad words. Did you know Chinese people have a n-word? (With a soft R and it doesn't mean the same thing. Slow down there. CHILL.)

They do!

And they say it a lot. It's hilarious.

那个(nà ge/ nèi ge)

It's basically a filler word like using "ummm or "weeelll" or it can mean "that" as in "that thing". So imagine how often they say it. lol

Sometimes when my mother-in-law really gets going it can sound like she's spitting some sick rhymes and get 'n real gangsta with it. Love you, mom!

I don't mind them speaking Mandarin. Sometimes they forget about me and that's fine by me. This may sound weird but it's kind of relaxing. It's like I get to turn part of my brain off. Sometimes I'll surprise them with my understanding but I can't lie, it is always 100% body language and context clues.

Being able to learn about my husbands culture and watch my daughter explore her heritage has been a pretty cool experience. I mean who could complain about more holidays to celebrate? Every year is a chance to learn and experience more. This year we finally got to attend our community's Lunar New Year celebrations. And we are planning a big family trip to Taiwan later this year!

Covid has definitely had an impact on our lives not just in the way of lock-downs or mask mandates. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the alarming rise in racism and racist attacks towards Asians and Asian Americans in the aftermath of the pandemic. While my family have been lucky in not having to have had experiences like the above we'd be fools to believe racism won't touch our family in some way someday. I remain thankful for the privileges we do have and hope that in that moment I remain brave but not so brave I go to jail. Just the right amount of brave.

Hopefully those hateful voices are drown out by the voices of love from the next generations.

I would love to hear other's stories of being a part of a bicultural family. How do you incorporate different cultures and customs within your family? If you would like to share your family's story shoot me an email! <3

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