5 Things From My Bengali Immigrant Upbringing I’d Keep The Same

5 Things From My Bengali Immigrant Upbringing I’d Keep The Same

By Sabrina Islam

This post is a continuation from my last post on “5 Things from my Bengali Immigrant Upbringing I Would Change.” I grew up in Australia in the 90’s and early 2000’s. If and when I do have children of my own, here are five things I would like to pass down or copy from my parents:

1.Encouraging Learning and Education

Education is such a valuable asset and such a privilege. It doesn’t only come from a university hall in my eyes. I would love to see my children determined at multiple pursuits if they fancy it and I’m pleased that my parents, over time, began doing the same. It is something that gave me more to talk about with my mum and dad, thereby connecting with them. I would love to continue that pattern of open communication and honesty with my own children.

2.Giving my Children Separate Bedrooms

This is such a luxury even though it may sound super basic. Having my own bedroom as a middle child and the only girl was paramount for my peace at home and I loved having the license over where my furniture would be and my privacy. Growing up, some of us shared rooms and we enjoyed it while it lasted but overall, my brothers and I were lucky to have our own bedrooms. It is so important to have space to one’s self and if not as a little kid, then definitely as a teenager! I would love to be able to do that for my kids in our future home. The simple things make a huge difference.

3.Speaking Bengali as a First Language at Home

I questioned myself on whether to add this to the list and seriously, this item really delayed me from completing the post: MY BANGLA IS TERRIBLE. “Onek karap.” It probably sounds way better written down than when I speak it! On top of that, I don’t understand everything my parents say anymore, but I understand most of what I hear. My parents did not force us to speak Bengali at home and I don’t think that would have worked on us anyway. I actually now speak to my mum in English almost all the time even if she responds to me in Bengali. Meanwhile, my dad often speaks to me in English, but he does mix in Bengali sometimes. All of my brothers have different levels of capability with speaking Bengali as well. I don’t even know if I will marry a Bengali-speaking man at this point, but one way or another, I am going to aim to use some Bengali at home in front of my kids. I’d rather they learn some of it than nothing at all.

4.Encourage Open Communication

Of course, as the daughter of immigrant parents (and a sane woman) I did not share EVERYTHING with my parents, but they did encourage it! That encouragement and the reminder to go to them for my troubles and concerns has always been an underlying source of comfort to me. I cannot predict what my kids will and won’t share with me in the future, but I will always encourage them to talk to me and share details of their lives no matter how mundane or scandalous. It’s not even about me trying to be their “friend” instead of “parenting”… I’m just nosy as hell. Not to mention, I’d like to use that personal quality as an advantage to be able to give guidance to my kids or just be there for them.

5.Tell my Kids, “It’s Never too Late”

Parents don’t stay the same. My parents who once had medical aspirations for me always are getting exciting little ideas about things I can pursue like make up artistry or writing. I really enjoy this attitude of my parents being open to different pathways or pursuits. Seeing this level of support from them wasn’t always available to me as a child; it was a gradual development. Life is what you make of it and I would love to see that attitude be imbibed by my own kids. I want them to know that it is not too late to take that trip, to save money for that goal, start that business, etc. I want my kids to know that if they’re still here on this Earth, it’s not too late to start something. All they need to do is try and put themselves out there.

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