In this globalized world we live in, it becomes more and more common to meet intercultural or multicultural families. These families are formed by couples who have different nationalities, speak different languages and come from different cultures. Multicultural families can be seen as a miniature version of the world cultures.
What does it mean to have a multicultural family?
An intercultural family goes beyond just having a different passport. People within a multicultural relationship may have different traditions, religions, usage of the language, ethnicity and all the cultural aspects that influence a person’s identity.
Wendy Williams is the author of The Globalisation of Love, a book about multicultural romance and marriage. As she sustains in her Tedx Talk, “People from everywhere are falling in love with people from everywhere else.” Some centuries ago, only the aristocracy and people with economic privilege used to have access to this type of marriage. They could afford to travel the world looking for love. But, nowadays, in this globalized world, people are more likely than ever to connect with people from other regions.
Several changes have taken place in society that favor social mobility. People are seeking for job opportunities in other countries, or have remote jobs for international companies. Technology has also made it easier to connect with people located in very distant places. This current situation is also related to the quest that this generation prioritizes their wishes, dreams and personal pursuits and they choose to travel the world, instead of staying rooted in just one place. These new possibilities are changing the way we perceive romance and marriage, and consequently, gives way to new intercultural or multicultural families to be formed.
According to Williams, 5% of Americans say that they have met their partners online. In Austria, Vienna, 18% of all new marriages are considered multicultural. In Korea, 10% of marriages are constituted by couples of different nations and cultures, and in the United States it accounts for 15% of the total population.
As expressed in the work titled “Intercultural Parenting and the Transcultural Family: A Literature Review”, recent demographic trends indicate a substantial increase in the past several decades in the number of intercultural marriages in the United States, Australia and Canada, among other countries. The rate of interracial marriage in the United States has increased from 0.7% in 1970 to 2.2% in 1992. The 2000 U.S. Census Bureau reported that 7.4% of all married households in the United States, and 15.6% in California, had partners with a different racial or Hispanic origin background.
Types of multicultural families
According to Bilingual Kidspot, there are two ways by which families become multicultural: internally (through intermarriage/partnership or adoptions) or externally (through relocation, by moving from one culture to another.
We can mention three types of multicultural families:
- Interracial Family: a form of family that involves members who belong to different races or ethnicities.
- Third-Culture Kids: an expression used to refer to people raised in a culture other than the one of their parents. These people are often a multicultural individual.
- Intercultural Family: is a couple involving many cultures and backgrounds. Parents may have moved multiple times to distinct cultures or experience various cultures growing up.
Particularities about intercultural families
Multicultural couples face the dilemma of resolving cultural differences. They may have to negotiate diverse cultural values, which, in some cases, may even be opposed.
- One of the main decisions an intercultural couple faces is the place of residence. This decision is often affected by emotions, subjective viewpoints, and even the opinions of other relatives.Parenting and childrearing are other key aspects to consider: Which language or languages are the kids going to learn? Which one will they learn first? Which traditions are they going to learn? How is the family dynamic and structure going to look? With which educational model will they be educated?
- Cross-ccultural aattitudes and beliefs are also extremely important. Multicultural families have to be able to make compromises in order to find a way to fulfil both parties’ interests and traditions, celebrations and special dates, as well as religions.
- Multicultural families have also to resolve how they are going to stay connected with their extended family (grandparents, uncles, cousins, etc.). When the couples come from two very distant countries, they need to decide how and when they are going to spend time with each side of the family.
- Another important factor that multicultural families may have to face is dealing with prejudice. Unfortunately, a lot of multicultural families have to face prejudice from society, whether because of mixing cultures, languages, or traditions. Sometimes children from multicultural families may feel they have to choose one heritage. It is important for multicultural families to give their children guidance, so that they feel proud of both cultural backgrounds.
Love beyond boundaries
According to Williams, whether it is the food, funerals, language, religion, planning a wedding or agreeing on a name for the children, multicultural relationships are complex. But despite these challenges, multicultural couples prove, on a daily basis, that peace between different countries, cultures and religions is possible.
The future of romance is ethnically diverse.