The title of this blog post may sound ambiguous, but that’s because I simply didn’t understand how to describe my particular issue of mixed race dating. I have been married to an Indian for the last six years and while I wouldn’t exchange this time with anything, it has come with its own unique challenges.
My husband is very close to his family in India which means month long visits at least once every two years and while the trip makes for an enjoyable holiday, there are some things I wish I knew before hand after my kids were born.
Staying in touch
Having one set of grandparents who live in another country all together calls for a little extra effort to make sure that they don’t feel neglected. We have a regular, bi-weekly skype session that we only miss for emergencies. Sometimes we have entire skyped dinners, weddings and festivals (my brother-in-law ruined a laptop at Holi). Even if my kids aren’t enthusiastic all the time, my husband really appreciates it.
We realised in the beginning that regular flights (with the accompanying gifts) meant a lot of money. We had to revamp our budget and cut corners. It helps to buy presents throughout the year in sales and bargains. Small things like gadgets, makeup and accessories can go a long way. Flights with stopovers are cheaper and be sure to examine all your options in terms of different airlines.
In another country
If your family drinks bottled water then you’ll probably want to stick to it when you travel. Expect and be prepared for upset stomachs and either carry medication (laws vary) or ask your paediatrician for alternates that might be available in the country your visiting. My kids drink from the tap at home and my sister-in-law described a trick that helps transitioning. Start with a water bottle filled from your own tap. Drink half. Refill at the departure airport. Drink half of the mix. Refill in the plane, again drink half of the mix. Repeat at every stopover including the destination airport. This trick works quite well for me and my husband but I haven’t tried it on the kids, mostly because I don’t think I could handle the extra bathroom visits.
My kids usually can’t manage too much spice and while their grandparents make an extra effort, we can’t always expect the same when other relatives ask us over. I tried to make my kids not turn up their noses but at the same time I have to tactfully repeat everywhere the fact that they’re not used to too much heat. Also take care of allergies. My youngest son has a nut allergy and my in-laws didn’t really take it seriously, mostly because allergies are rare in India. Relatives assumed that the kids are just finicky and often nuts came in unrecognizable forms as garnishes or in special sweetmeats.
Interacting with relatives
Physical distances are a bit different in different cultures. My children certainly weren’t used to all the extra hugs and kisses that came their way. Younger relatives (people my age or younger) seemed to understand this well but older people (great aunts, great uncles, yes they were all pretty involved) had more trouble understanding and sometimes took offence. Tact will go only go so far and it’s best to just move on and not dwell on small incidents. If you don’t do this, you’ll just spend your entire holiday in the middle of a stressful soap opera.
For all this to work you need to be very clear with your partner of mixed race dating about how far you are able and willing to accommodate his/her relatives. They should understand that you and the kids will need their space and endless visiting is not your idea of a vacation.
Be sure to enjoy yourself. Your children have been given a unique opportunity to take advantage of the best of both worlds and embody in themselves the fact that race, religion or the color of a person’s skin need not divide us as people seem to believe.