If your family celebrates a holiday that is not celebrated by the majority culture, your child may feel invisible, ashamed or left out. Some children may even get teased for celebrating holidays that are different than everyone else’s.
However, when you observe non-majority holidays, it’s important to keep honoring your traditions as a family. This is because it will help you create happy memories together while helping your child build a strong sense of cultural identity, security and belonging.
You can also help your child feel more connected to the community at large by having them teach their friends or classmates about the holidays your family celebrates. When other people learn about your traditions, your child may feel proud of their heritage and more confident about their individuality.
Here are some ways that you can help your child’s peers gain deeper insights into your holiday celebrations:
- Teach your child about your holiday. Sometimes parents forget to explain the meanings behind holiday traditions. This makes it harder for your child to explain what their holiday is about when they’re talking to their friends. Share knowledge with your child that they can pass on.
- Counter teasing with information. Children sometimes feel anxious when they’re faced with the unfamiliar, which may include holidays different from theirs; they may tease others for being different. If your child can confidently explain how and why they celebrate a holiday, it may help to minimize teasing and feeling different from their peers.
- Make a holiday-themed presentation at school. Ask your child’s teacher if your child can talk to the class about your upcoming holiday. If your child is not comfortable with sharing, you can offer to give the teacher information so that they can teach their students and even practice one of the holiday activities as a class. There are many ways to engage children, such as reading picture books that explain the holiday’s meaning, making crafts that incorporate holiday traditions or sharing foods that your family eats at this time of year.
- Introduce friends to festive foods. Make plates of traditional holiday food and share them with friends, neighbors and the families of your child’s closest friends. When you drop off the plates, explain what each food is and why you eat it. It’s a simple (and delicious) way to teach others about your customs. And talking about your cultural traditions with the parents of your child’s friends allows them to continue the conversation with their children after you leave.
- Involve your child’s friends in celebrations. Invite your child’s friends over for one of your holiday celebrations. For example, a family who lights firecrackers during Diwali, the festival of lights, may ask others to come watch. If there is a festival or gathering around your holiday, consider inviting your child’s friends to join you.
- Encourage your child to be curious about holidays. Teach your child to show curiosity about their friend’s holiday traditions. They can ask their friends what they do to celebrate Christmas or other holidays. Your child may even ask to try some of their friends’ traditions at home. If you feel comfortable and like they fit with your family values, this can be a fun way to help your child feel connected to their peers. Embracing cultural differences can help to enrich your child’s life.
We hope this gives you some ideas of how to talk to your children about your family traditions and holidays in a way that makes them feel proud of their identity and prepares them to talk about it when asked by their peers.