Bilingual, British, Children, Culture, Dutch, English, Food, Sport

5 Reasons I’m Glad my Children Are Dutch & British

Welcome to the second post in this month’s Celebrating Expat Life Blog Link up series. The idea is to share the many positive things about living overseas, the great things about bringing your children up in a multicultural and multilingual environment and focus on the things that make your expat life great. You can grab the link button at the bottom of this post, as well as link your own post using the InLinkz link. If you tweet about this link up please use #ELWADBlinkup. 
Meanwhile, here are 5 things I love about the fact that my three sons are both Dutch and British nationals.
1. Bilingualism: All three sons speak Dutch and English. Giving a child that kind of head start in a country where English is the second language anyway is fabulous. My seven year old is in quite the unique position in his school class as he already speaks a second language well. I love the fact that my sons automatically rolls their ‘r’s when speaking Dutch and can actually pronounce English words that most Dutch people struggle with (like the word iron which is always pronounced wrong here). Bilingualism is one of the greatest advantages of being raised with two national identities or cultures. 
2. Their World is Bigger: When two nationalities, cultures or languages are familiar then the world opens up a little further to you. My sons will have more choices in front of them, ranging from study options to country of residence. Right now, whilst they are young they have more options than their peers when it comes to the little things. They already have the choice between a bedtime story in English or in Dutch. They can watch a movie in English or Dutch. They eat food their friends don’t. They regularly visit England. They celebrate British holidays. They learn about how things are in England, yet the Netherlands is their home. When they are older they can play football for the Dutch elftal or the English national team – the choice is theirs. They can represent the Netherlands at the Olympics or join the British team. Two cultures, two languages, two nationalities – their world is automatically bigger.

3. Strong Roots: I love the fact that I can share British things with my children and show them how it is a part of who they are. I tell them about their British heritage and not only is it interesting to them, it is also good for them. Research has shown that, 

“The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned.”

4. They Stand Out in A Dutch Crowd: Sometimes children don’t want to stick out, but being part British in the Netherlands gives them a subtle way of standing out. Nothing outrageous, just a little trait that I think is a great talking point.

Hagelslag – that’s chocolate sprinkles to you and me
Photo Credit: Ekki

5. Mixing it Up: The fact that I want to share British things with my children means we get to mix up two cultures in our house and thus we enjoy a hybrid culture. My sons will happily eat baked beans on toast but I wouldn’t dream of trying that delicacy out on any of their friends because I am pretty sure it would be discarded at one glance. It’s something that other Dutch children would not be eating at home. The same goes for boiled eggs and soldiers – a unique British breakfast that means nothing to Dutch children. At the same time my boys are also delighted to tuck into bread covered in hagelslag for breakfast. They are ecstatic at the idea of Sinterklaas coming to town, but they also get to enjoy a visit from Father Christmas – something that their Dutch friends don’t experience. There are times when my three children are very typical little Dutch boys, there are times when at least my oldest could be British and there are days when they are a perfect mix of Dutch and British.

Choosing to live away from family throws up many challenges – from the moment you know you are pregnant abroad, to birth and far, far beyond – for more stories about parenting abroad check out our Kickstarter page for Knocked Up Abroad Again.

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