Raising ‘Em Lao: Letting Your Biracial Kids Dance With The Other Culture

Perhaps the biggest perk of being raised bi-culturally is that it is double the fun. Lao culture has a strong footing in how I would like to raise the -Noys to experience the world but lest us not forget the other identity:

Photo courtesy Perfect Moments in Time Photography in Seattle, WA

Photo courtesy Perfect Moments in Time Photography in Seattle, WA

Humnoy and Lanoy are half-Caucasian (or white, whichever PC term you prefer) and I cannot forget that. I once heard that “Asian genes are strong” and I was vainly excited because that part of my identity is so strong for me. It has influenced every bit of life I intentionally plan for my kids down to their names. We live in America, the kids will have American friends, and we dominantly speak English in our home. If I wanted the kids to hear full conversations in Lao, we’d need at least another Lao-speaking person in the household. If I wanted the kids to learn to write in Lao, I’d need to have my mom teach them. If I wanted to let the kids embrace the songs of my people, I would need to stand through Lao lam (pronounced ‘lum’), a form of Lao folk music, and admittedly not particularly my favorite aspect of the Lao life. I just had to let it happen and it did in one moment with their dad.

What happens is a show of what I stereotypically place on the spectrum of “shit white people like.” I didn’t even realize that the Other Culture’s appreciation would come without such effort until one quiet evening after dinner when GH entertained the kids long enough for me to clean up. All GH did was turn on his white guy playlist to see first-hand how The Other Culture is strong:

Which aspect from which side of family is the strongest for you or kids?

For further reading, please go laugh and laugh at this Yahoo Answers thread: “White people songs

6 thoughts on “Raising ‘Em Lao: Letting Your Biracial Kids Dance With The Other Culture

  1. LOL rock out! I think more of the american side but I definitely want to do a better job of raising my child to know more about the Caribbean culture, music, and experience the foods.

    • That would be so neat if you took a Caribbean Food Challenge! I’m slacking on the Lao Challenge but I’ve already got the next recipe lined up: Fried Egg Rolls, a favorite. The American side takes over our family too which is why I feel the need to make them “so” Lao LOL

      Good luck, maybe this year will be our year to know more about the other culture besides the dominant one.

  2. It’s hard to find the balance sometimes. We live in a cross-cultural household here. My partner is Hong Kong born Chinese, & We live with his parents. I was already bi-racial to begin with (Mexican-Irish) & I fear that many parts of my heritage are going to get lost in the shuffle. Will she ever learn to speak Spanish when she’s already learning English, Cantonese and Mandarin? I guess only time Will tell.

    • See, that’s how it is for us and your fear is my fear too. Will my children ever speak a full sentence of Laotian? How often will they get to experience it with my family, who lives 5 hours away? It is a huge reason why I chose to write about my experiences in it.

      What language was dominant in your home when you were growing up?

      • We grew up speaking English, and really regretted the loss of the Spanish from our previous generation. I chose to study it in school to reclaim my heritage. Now I fear it might be lost again in this generation despite all my efforts.

      • Aww, man. What I do is at least teach the kids the important words in Lao such as “nome-nome” for breast milk and other favorite foods of theirs. Lao food (and breastfeeding) is serious business LOL!

        I also try to visit my family as much as possible. The last time we visited, Humnoy understood Laotian so well that it surprised my husband. I joke that his ancestors blood is strong in reincarnation, which is a huge belief in our culture.

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