Meeting with bicultural families
Bicultural families are families with parents who were born in different countries, and whose cultural background and, usually, native language differs from one another. There are more than 65,000 bicultural couples and families living in Finland. Approximately half of the families are families with children.
What should a professional take into consideration when meeting with bicultural families?
- The spouse’s immigration process and related stress of acclimatization often coincide with the process of starting a family. This also weighs heavily on the Finnish spouse and utilises resources that are necessary for parenthood and preparing to become a parent.
- In bicultural family life, external child care assistance is significant, since the relatives of the foreign spouse generally live very far away.
- Upon moving to Finland, the foreign spouse may have very few friends or hobbies, and the challenges to find employment may be pronounced.
- The family’s financial situation may, at the beginning of the couple’s relationship, place a great deal of pressure and stress on the Finnish spouse.
Many of the operational models and recommendations for multicultural work also apply to dealings with bicultural families, particularly when the mother who is seeking the services is a foreigner. The same issues should, however, be taken into account when meeting with a Finnish mother whose spouse is foreign.
- The viewpoint and hopes of the foreign spouse must also be considered.
- Encourage both parents to speak to their child/children in their own native language.
- Treat the parents as individuals, not as representatives of a particular culture.
- Assume an inquisitive, sensitive and respectful attitude towards the family and its cultural identity.
- Support the parents in their relationship and the work of raising their child/children in a way that nurtures both cultures.
- Remind the family of the importance of communication.