Inventing identities for our multicultural children

[ 0 ] 13/09/2022 |

1. Inventing identities for our multicultural children by Elisavet Arkolaki

Click here for the index and access all the chapters.

Intercultural and interracial marriages are on the rise according to studies, whilst more parents, particularly in the USA and Europe, are adopting children from other countries. As a result, our communities are growing increasingly diverse and it is no longer surprising to see families composed of different ethnicities and cultures.

My family is an example of this. Our kids were born in different countries and have different nationalities. Our eldest for instance has had the experience of living in four countries, speaks three languages, and understands four. He mainly identifies now as “Norwegian”, but he’s so much more than this. Our daughter’s experiences are slightly different than our son’s. According to the United Nations Population Fund (2015), there are 244 million people recorded to be living outside their country of origin.

I, on the other hand, have lived in six countries and speak four languages at different fluency levels My husband, who is from a different country of origin than mine, also speaks three languages and has traveled all over the world. The biggest advantage that I see in a mixed cultural background and global mobility, besides the benefit of language comprehension which I address in my blog post Our Journey with Raising Multilingual Children, is the opportunity this allows for learning to see the world from different perspectives. Being immersed in different cultures encourages the development of character traits such as adaptability, compassion, and tolerance.

Rita Rosenback stated that “All my languages are an intrinsic part of my identity. Every single one of them has helped me understand other people and cultures and thus contributed to the person I am today. They do however not split my identity, they consolidate it.”

I love this quote and I feel the same way, too. I appreciate how we as adults are able to take this optimistic perspective. But for a child, the reality of being multilingual and multicultural may be interpreted in a less favorable way and they need our guidance to get there. Identity is very closely knitted with culture. When the cultures are so blended and the background so fluid, our children need our help to invent a positive identity of their own; an identity that is not defined by one sole culture. 

In order to build a strong identity and a confident sense of self, our children need to feel proud of their cultural background. They also need to learn how to be open and accepting towards whatever culture they now find themselves in which through integration will inevitably come to shape their identity too. 

Children don’t really start to ponder over identity issues until later in life but the roots of many of these are to be found in early childhood. My books help to create a foundation of normalcy and acceptance for our multicultural children during their early years, help them to embrace all their languages, use their imagination and creativity, and later on practice reading and writing in their different languages (I’m referring here to my bilingual books).  

Where am I from? is my very first published book, and features a story that will resonate with our preschoolers. Through stunning murals, most of them painted on the walls of public elementary schools by artist Platon, this book will take children on a quest in search of common origins. A most appealing story for kids of mixed heritage as they are the ones usually at a loss when asked to answer where they are from. 

Our initiative received lots of support from our global community. I am proud to say that this project got fully funded on Kickstarter in August 2018 and we raised about 12,500 USD within 30 days to create “Where am I from?”. We received funding in the form of pre-orders from many generous individuals, and three public sector institutions in Norway and Malta. During the campaign, we got press coverage in three countries, and our efforts have been featured on several blogs and websites worldwide. All the book characters are based on real people who all except one are of mixed heritage. The book is published by Faraxa Publishing and can also be purchased on Amazon

‘How to Raise Confident Multicultural Children’, the book you are currently reading, is a resource guide for the parent and the teacher that has been written by several experts in related fields, by people who care deeply for this community, as a way to pay it forward, and give something to the global parenting community on which we all rely on for the future of our children.

-> All my books can be found here.
-> If you’d like to get in touch, I’d love to hear from you. My email is

NEXT CHAPTER: The debate over multiculturalism and what we can learn from the Canadian model

Click here for the index and access all the chapters.

Category: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: