Raising a Child with Cultural Diversity
Today’s Dad Monday has an international flair as we get a glimpse into the life of a dad from Turkey. Tolga is a new dad who is learning the ups and downs of parenting all with a touch of fun while blending cultures and lots of love.
Tolga, you and your wife come from two very different backgrounds. You grew up in Turkey and she grew up in the Mid-West. How do you blend your cultures and raise your baby with an understanding and an appreciation for both cultures?
To be frank, this is an answer that I am looking forward to finding out myself. So far it hasn’t been that difficult. The only potential problem could be the difference among our religious views. Even though I am Muslim, I don’t practice. And I can’t really say that I am a fan of religion either. My wife is Catholic and she practices her religion which I fully respect. But in the long run, I don’t know how it will affect our son’s religion. We will wait and see.
Do you ever feel like there is a clash of cultures & you have to choose one over the other in a certain situation?
We cherish each other’s cultures. I love Christmas and Thanksgiving and my wife loves our Bayrams (Eid). We take the positives of each culture and enjoy them with our son.
How did you choose your baby’s name & why do you feel it fits him?
Baran is a Turkish name and picking it wasn’t easy. We bought 4 Turkish baby name books and Baran was the only boy name that my wife liked. (Yes she went through 5000+ names and liked only one) We had to pick something that was easy to pronounce for Americans. My first choice was Arda but my wife hated it. I still don’t know why.
Every Turkish name has a meaning or multiple meanings. Baran has multiple meanings like rain, fruitfulness, noble, strength, resilience. In our case we like to use the meaning of “strength, resilience”. So far he lived up to his name.
Are there special Turkish “receiving” ceremonies that you did with your son?
Our biggest ceremony for a boy would be the circumcision ceremony. It is a ceremony that is usually done after you are circumcised. Usually this takes place when the boy is 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 years of age (only odd years of age). I had mine when I was 7 years old. As you can imagine, it was a traumatic experience. I made sure his was done right after birth. This way he won’t remember any of it. We will still have a mini ceremony when he grows up to be 7 years old.
Will Baran grow up bi-lingual?
Definitely. I only speak Turkish to him. I need someone in my household to talk Turkish to! It is kind of selfish, but I need another translator besides me between my parents and my wife’s family.
What has been your biggest surprise about fatherhood?
I never imagined the intense love I would feel for my child. It is unconditional love and sacrifice. I also feel a lot more protective towards my family.
What is your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge is not being able to spend enough time with my son. I feel like I need to be home with him every day and spend every minute with him. Being away from him is difficult. I miss him within 2 hours.
If you could receive ‘expert advice” on one aspect of parenting, what would it be?
I think I will need that advice when he becomes a teenager.
Random fun facts about Tolga
- Soccer, soccer and more soccer—although I’m warming up to golf too.
- If I like you, I pick on you. If I don’t like you, I won’t. My wife hates this habit of mine.
- I’d love to take acting lessons.
What was your favorite pastime pre-baby? Watching movies and playing soccer or computer games.
What is your favorite pastime post-baby? Playing with my son and making him laugh. He is almost 6 months old and he can’t do a whole lot yet, but he is a lot of fun.
What would be the perfect day for you? A day with good health and family with good health is a good day for me.
Will you teach Baran how to play soccer? Of course!!! That is why we had Baran in the first place.
If someone was going to put your life to music, what genre would they use and what would the title of the song be? This is a tough one. Turkish song lyrics are all about drama and pain. I think it is hilarious. Actually, “my song” would be a song that reaches out to all cultures.