What Divergent Taught Me About Raising Bicultural Kids

April 17, 2014

Clearly, the Divergent book (and now amazing movie) is about race and ethnicity. No, just kidding. I don’t think it is. Or is it?

Well, it does offer some interesting perspective about how much comfort people gain by categorizing people.

For those of you who have no idea what Divergent is, I’ll give a quick, Sarah-fied recap. Post-destruction Chicago. A mythical past of an America torn apart by war. A desire to purify human nature by dividing society into five factions, each one focusing on a positive human attribute.

Amity faction exudes kindness. Dauntless are brave. The smart ones are Erudite and the selfless are Abnegation. Finally, Candor are honest. The Divergent, however, do not fit neatly into one of these categories according to the society’s fail-proof serum test.

The leader of the Candor, Jeanine Matthews, says, “The future belongs to those who know where they belong.”

When the main character, Tris, is labeled Divergent, she is told, “You’re different. You don’t fit into a category. They can’t control you.”

In general, categories make us feel comfortable. We use them as shortcuts in our brains to help us understand the world.

But this gravitation towards factions does reinforce the point that my children, who may identify with a several different cultural groups (white Latino, American, Guatemalan, and 2nd generation immigrants for starters), may feel uncomfortable. Or maybe… the more frustrating reality is that their multiculturalism may make other people uncomfortable.

It’s like the man looking at my white husband and exhausting his list of explanations why a white guy would have an accent and say he’s Guatemalan. When Billy responded “no” to all his questions about missionary-status, all he could say was, “There’s something you’re not telling me.”

Divergents threaten the system.

People who don’t easily fit into our categories can make others uncomfortable. Sometimes they experience dismissal: “Oh, you’re not really black.” They might be excluded from all groups like the Faction-less in Divergent. Or they may be confronted with confusion or abandonment when people walk away, unsure of how to understand someone outside their paradigm.

Typically, the multicultural divergent find each other: missionary kids, immigrants, biracial/bicultural kids, etc. Countries of origin may be different, but the experiences overlap enough to offer community.

But I am constantly inspired, interested and encouraged to see how much those of us who don’t fit easily into a category are growing in number. (And I include myself because while I may ace the census with clear responses, I have a divergent heart.)

This cool National Geographic project shows some images at what our future multicultural society will look like. So maybe Divergents don’t threaten the system. Maybe we are building a new system.

A Fútbol Love Story {#WorldCupWives}

April 14, 2014

There once was a boy.

And he held a remote.

And that's how soccer (or fútbol, for the purists among us) entered our lives.

Katie and I are excited about those of you who've already signed up for our summer fun with World Cup Wives. The first newsletter has gone out, so if you're in for the good times, make sure you join us!

We wanted to introduce ourselves in this first video post and share the debut of soccer into our lives. Enjoy!

(Note: If you're reading this via email or RSS, you may need to click here to watch the video.)

What's your fútbol love story? We'd love to hear how soccer was introduced to your marriage or some of your stand-out moments.

Share in the comments or, if you're a blogger, share a link to your own #WorldCupWives video or post! And sign up below to join our WCW community!

Image Credit: Rama V, CC

See all the World Cup Wives posts here.

7 Tips for Cross-Cultural Conversation

April 10, 2014

We desire to be culturally savvy. Right? I know I do.

I want to interact with folks who are different from me and say the right things, convey my genuine interest and make others feel welcomed and cared for. That's what I want.

Our family has lived in a predominately Central American and Mexican community in South Los Angeles, a tourist district of Buenos Aires, L.A.'s Filipinotown and our current, predominately African-American neighborhood of Atlanta. We've returned countless times to my small-town home in Kentucky and to my husband's hometown, Guatemala City.

All these cultural exchanges have offered me ample opportunity to stick my foot in my mouth.

And I'm so grateful for the friendships that have repeatedly offered me grace... and taught me a few lessons along the way.

At the end of the day, I know I'm not alone. Perhaps, like me, you have a heart for multicultural relationships and you hope to engage these friendships with grace and dignity.

Therefore, I want to share a couple tips I've gleaned on this journey. These suggestions are collected from my personal experiences. I hope they will benefit you as you move through this multicultural world and enjoy a beautiful mosaic of friendships.

This is the introduction to a short guide I wrote entitled Why I Don't Ask "Where are you from?" {7 Tips for Cross-Cultural Conversation}. Get yours for free when you subscribe!

Questions for the Cross-Cultural Couples

April 08, 2014

I've been pondering some different areas of multicultural marriage recently. I'd love to learn from the wealth of experiences visiting this blog. So I have a couple questions:
  1. Weddings: What ways did you represent or merge your cultural backgrounds into your wedding celebration?
  2. Church: Do you attend church together? How did you decide on a church home? Was it a challenge due to different race/ethnicity/language/backgrounds?
  3.  Overall: What have been some of your biggest challenges related to culture that you've met in your marriage?
I'd love for you to email me directly or leave your responses in the comments to any or all of the questions. Please leave a way for me to contact you as I may request to quote you in the future. Thanks so much for your responses!

Image credit: Carina

We Pray for Reform

April 03, 2014

For the families left behind that desperately miss a loved one. For the mamas who worry when the woman you brought into this world hasn’t been heard from in too long. For the wives waiting for money from the States but missing the partner who should be at the table. For the babies who’ve not met their papis. For the teenagers who respect the sacrifice, but barely remember their mama’s touch. We pray for reform.

For the communities missing their workers, watching the leaders leave for better opportunities. For the hometowns that cannot support their sons and daughters. For the neighborhoods missing the presence of their people. We pray for reform.

For the mothers who leave their children behind to take the best care of their children that they can. For the young men who steel themselves to quiet their nerves. For the sojourners who suffer dehydration, injury and pain. For those who are victimized. We pray for reform.

For the coyotes that guide the vulnerable to safety. For the coyotes that exploit and betray. We pray for reform.

For those who’ve lost a loved one in the wake of a broken immigration system. For those in need of peace and comfort and provision. We pray for reform.

For the pastors who listen to stories of heart-break and horror, who simmer in frustration at the pain into which they’ve entered. For the neighbors who seek resources, offer hospitality and share in friendship. For the service professionals that look the other way, practice radical generosity, traffic in hope. We pray for reform.

For the employers that make a space, offer opportunities and believe in their people. For the bosses that swim in the power and feel secure in the fear that they can create. For the employers that don’t know what to do, but know they need the help. We pray for reform.

For those who are lonely so far from home. For those with great potential feeling stifled. For those making poor choices in their new country. For those risking their lives in dangerous occupations. For those suffering indignity. We pray for reform.

For the students completing degrees they aren’t yet allowed to use. For the citizens fearing a spouse will be deported. For the children worried about a parent or a grandparent. We pray for reform.

For the legislators truly seeking the lines between hospitality, economics and order. For the politicians holding families hostage to try to win political games. For the advocates on Capitol Hill. We pray for reform.

For a country denying the foreigners and withholding welcome. For a society missing opportunities to experience the gifts of those who have come. For communities and churches and neighbors welcoming the strangers. We pray for reform.  

Because we are all tied together in the single garment of destiny. Because the Bible tells us to love our neighbors. Because we are all made in the image of God. We pray for reform.

Image credit: Bart 

This prayer was written as part of the Day of Prayer for Immigrant Families hosted by the Evangelical Immigration Table on April 3, 2014.
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