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My daughter, Marika, was born May 22, 2015.
In the haze of post-delivery joy, my wife, Karen, and I had yet to run down a set of life lessons to impart to our new family member. We were still waiting for a moment to get a good look at her so we could settle on which of 3 names we would bestow.
Now, we’ve survived our first sleepy year of being parents and withstood a series of honest discussions between us on raising a child with an African American dad and Filipino mom.
Karen, for example, wanted Marika to learn to speak English and Tagalog like she did. My wife would occasionally point to things and describe them in both languages. I would want Marika to have an appreciation for black history. We came to a pretty simple conclusion: Our goal would be to help her develop a strong sense of self.
We believe it’s the best way for her to gird herself from people who can’t see past stereotypes. She, in turn, can educate and inform people about who she is. Sure, much of what we’ll say to her in the years to come will probably touch on an assortment of historical and societal issues and how that affects her. But we believed our best move was to make sure she gets a good dose of exposure to our families on both sides and to our cultures.
In other words, we hope little Marika grows up to be as familiar with pancit as she is with black-eyed peas.
We know there’s lots of ground to cover. I mean, she’s just getting a handle on the whole “mommy” and “daddy” thing. And that’s a big deal because I believe how she sees us is how she’ll view herself.
For right now, it’s enough that she knows that mommy loves daddy and daddy loves mommy and they both love her.
Robert Meeks is a video journalist with the Los Angeles Times. Check out the #MyLovingDay project.