Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Children of Double Nationality: Which are you?

I have two boys with double nationalities. While being raised in Brazil, they are very familiar with the US for their ages. What I find interesting is with what country these dual children choose to relate to.

My 4 year old is Brazilian. That is what he says all the time. Of course he is also American and enjoys the comfort of that country, but he has a definite preference for yellow and green. He is all about the heat, beach, pool, and beans. He will tell you he prefers to be in Brazil but misses American houses, playgrounds, candy, and Target. 

I promise you, I have shown him more of the US than that. We have done museums, Disneyland, and many other fun "American" things. 

But the boy is Brazilian. It's what he relates to.  And I know most of you will say it's because he's being raised here.  

I wonder though because he has one little friend, who is being raised in Rio, that seems more British than Brazilian. While in the same one Brazilian parent and one British parent scenario, he seems very proud to say that he is, in fact, British. 

He also so charmingly states why they are better than Americans. Got to love those 4 year olds. 

I believe we have a bit of both nature and nurture here. Maybe the British are more patriotic than us Americans. Maybe that little boy and his family have more contact with the Motherland of the parents. 

I wonder though, who decides? The kids? The location? The influence of the parents? Or is it an all of the above situation? 

What's your take on it? 


  1. why does he miss candy and target?

    i think its a mix of kids' personality , location and influence of the parent.

  2. (out of topic) Usually brazilians name their kids as soon as they find out the sex of the baby (around 4 months of pregnancy) and start calling the baby by its name.... how is it done in america and / or europe?

  3. Target had the biggest selection of stuff he's ever seen. I think that's a big part of the love. As for candy, I don't know. Personally, I think American candy is better than Brazilian...

    As for naming their kids. Of the Americans I know, most named them as soon as they knew the sex. If they don't know the sex, the choose a name for each and wait and see.

    I do know that in Ireland it's bad luck so they wait until the baby is born healthy and then name them. They also wait until the baby is born to have the baby shower.

  4. My girls are more French. I think it's because this is where they live, go to school, have friends and it's primarily the language they speak. They tell all their friends that their mom is American, forgetting that they are too. To them now, America is just a fun place to go on vacation...but they are a little older (11 & 13) than your boys.

  5. Mine says he is both. I think it is a mix of parental influence and personality. In my case, my kid definitely gets more contact with his Brazil side, but I make sure that he knows about the US and keeps in contact with my family there.

  6. We have an added layer of complexity in our family. I am Korean-American (born and raised in the US), husband is Italian. Daughter is obviously a mix, but being raised in Brazil at the moment. I haven't even figured it out myself yet!

  7. Meredith, I can see that happening. I actually met a woman in her 30s who told me her Mother is American. When I asked her about her being American she said she didn't relate to her American self thus does not acknowledge it...

    Corinne, my boys def get more Brazilian. But they did get to take a 7 week trip there over Christmas.

    Jean - Very complex! Let's see what your little one decides

  8. In my house it varies from one child to the next, based mostly on what age they were when we came here. My oldest was 10 when we came to Brazil, and most definitely identifies as American. My 2nd son was 6.5 when we came, and definitely feels torn between the two. My youngest, though, was 2 when we came and is way more Brazilian than my other boys. For our Thanksgiving meal last year, I had each boy choose something to serve. The littlest requested "rice and beans, please." Yep, Brazilian, that one.

  9. British more patriotic than americans? NEVER. :)
    Displays of patriotism are greeted with suspicious looks in the UK - it's frowned upon, and often linked with being right wing, imperialist, lunatic or all of the above. Maybe it has to do with the boy's own preferences after having experienced both countries - or maybe he happens to have an unusually patriotic british parent? :) If the boy can name more than a couple of ex-colonies, then be afraid.

    Judging by what my american friends say, I think I would get so excited if I ever step inside Target I would pee myself. What does that say about me? Please don't answer.

  10. Rachel,

    I think it's the person's own character that will dictate one way or the other.
    For example, we know people born in Boston who hates living in New England, but they are usually people who hates the cold, hates snow and ice and don't appreciate big city living, these people go to Florida and fall in love with it, the heat, the outdoor living, beaches etc...
    I have also seen the other way around, folks who are born in Florida and HATE Florida, they also hate the heat, don't care for the beach or outdoor activities and fall in love with New York or New England and end up moving north for the part of the country they fell more confortable...
    In the case of the British boy, perhaps he hears a lot of negative stuff about Brazil from his parents all the time and hears great stuff about the UK all the time so he automatically likes the country he hears great stuff about...
    I know you always have a great positive attitude about Brazil and show your kids the best Brazil has to offer, so maybe you have influenced your son in a positive way...and maybe there is a little bit of both, your positive influence about Brazil plus his natural likes for the heat, the beach, the local food!


  11. Oh, Lolla, you are a riot!!!lol...

  12. Hello! I'm a bit of an identity-crisis (sans the crisis) child. My mother is Chinese (though she grew up in Burma), my father is Burmese. I was born in Burma, but moved to California when I was less than a year old. It goes without saying that I look Asian but I'm pretty American with personality, beliefs, etc. though also very Chinese/Burmese in some respects due to my Asian upbringing.

    I didn't have any real problems with this until I started traveling in Asia last year. NO one believed me that I was American and every country assumed I was a local.

    Identities a hard thing to deal with. In the end, I don't think feeling a particular nationality is that big of a deal, as long as you feel comfortable with yourself and what you identify yourself as.

  13. And then there's our case too; my hubby is Brit/French (talk about confusion), but grew up in Luxembourg and Belgium. If you see him you'll say "gringo", but have a local talk to him and they'll swear he's a homeboy too. If they see me, they think local, but I open my mouth and that mask falls off, but then I think LatinAmericans are less considered "gringos" than other nationalities, and us Mexicans get a free pass for coming up with the Mexican Wave and that fab Brazil win in the Mex World Cup. Oh, but I also have an Italian passport.
    So the kiddos are Bratishcan (Brasil British Mexican), with dabs of Italian and French, and I'm just waiting for Thing 1 to get the concept to see what she feels she is!

  14. Lolla is a riot! And Ray, you have a point!

    Corrine, that's funny. I would love to blend in! But I could see how it would make you look at yourself differently.

    Andrea, you are screwed! ;)

  15. Reader- amazing to look at it by age!

  16. Do your kids drink milk with their meals in Brazil? I think it's the oddest thing Americans do. lol

  17. Actually, my kids don't. They can have milk after dinner.

    It is strange but we drank milk at dinner when I was little. Now, I understand it that milk inhibits the absorption of some of the good stuff in dinner. That's why my kids have it separately.

  18. O,o beber leite durante o jantar?! Eca! Prefiro um bom suco de maracujá, caju ou manga XD Tem pessoas velhas aqui no Brasil que gostam de comer 'banana' nas refeições junto com arroz, feijão e carne, eu pessoalmente acho um pouco 'nojento' e li em algum lugar que isso faz mal na digestão.

  19. My father was born Japanese, and lived between the US and Japan between the up to age 5 for a few years, then back again till he was 12. The rest of his life has been in the US. He considers himself an American, but is definitely culturally Japanese.

  20. Plugadão: You sound just like my Father in Law ;)

    Ojeito: Interesting. Culture and identification joining the two

  21. I think americans have this idea of your nationality based on your parent's country. For example I have heard many people say I'm brazilian, here in the US just because their mother is brazilian, evene though the person was born in the US. I think that is kinda crazy actually, in Brazil I think we identify ourselves with the place we are raised, so if you were raised in brazil you would be brazilian. I've heard some crazy things from people like my friend that says she is one quarter irish, one quarter italian, and something else. and what about american? she was born and raised in america after all.
    I guess it's a different view of nationality.

  22. I used to feel the way Anon. But now that I am one the parents of one of them, I feel a bit differently. I am actively introducing as much of my "culture" as I can. I want them to relate to it. Plus we get visits and go back when possible.

    None-the-less, born and raised in Brazil, they definitely feel at home here.

    I will say though, I had friend in the states who claimed to only be Mexican even though they didn't speak Spanish, were born in the states, and had never been to Mexico. I know their parents were but I felt that they should have owned a bit of their American part.