Bicultural Family (Kenya & Finland)

Jul 30, 2020
Multiculturalism Family Life


The Family: The Father is from Kenya and the Mother is a Finn. Both have been working in the art and culture field most of their adult lives. Dance is what brought them together, as they met during an international dance exchange project in Tanzania back in 2013. Today, they are still working in the art and dance field but also do other jobs on the side. They have 2 kids together, an almost 3 years old son and an almost one-year old daughter. They have lived together in Tanzania and Kenya for several years and moved to Finland in 2018, after their first child was born. They live on the East side of Helsinki.

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Photo's credit reserved to sehetki Photography


Advantages

“The World is Our Home”

The couple explained how they consider their biculturalism at home as privilege, “We are lucky to raise our children to be citizens of two countries, cultures and worlds as we balance between the beauty of both. We hope our kids grow up to be comfortable in both of their “homes”. We are privileged to enjoy the best parts of both of our cultures and choose to teach our children what we love about them”. 

Culture mindset

The family has lived both in Kenya and Tanzania and now in Finland and expressed the benefits of both cultures, “Living here in Finland with a bit of “African” mindset is very welcome to kick out of the structure, timetables and stress. When living in East-Africa, the “Finnish” mindset helps in turn bringing a bit more structure and planning to our family life. It is an advantage to get to choose “best of both worlds”.

The couple added, “Moving back and forward between our home countries is a bit of a challenge trying to always find both time and money to travel as the distance is not easy. But we see it more as an advantage because we both love to travel and adventure around”.

Mombasa, Kenya

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Mombasa, Kenya

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Arusha, Tanzania: "Our backyard with our four dogs"

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Arusha, Tanzania: "Hushing my baby to sleep on a swing under an avocado tree"

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Challenges

Somebody always misses Home”   

The couple mentioned how moving from one country to another can be a challenge, “One culture is always less present than the other depending where we live. This also makes half of the family and relatives always be closer and dominant and the other half distant and far away. Keeping up a frequent communication is luckily easy with WhatsApp etc. which helps but it does not make the distance go away completely”.

Multitasking between the Cultures

Multitasking between the cultures requires adjusting from both sides equally. e.g. here in Finland the Kenyan spouse is working hard to “keep up” with the Finnish efficiency and schedules. In East-Africa, the Finnish spouse learn how to let go of the need to control everything and “not to stress about everything". The contrast is present both ways all the time”.

Language is a crazy big challenge

The Finnish language being difficult to learn, bringing a barrier and limiting the opportunities of the non-Finnish speaking spouse to e.g. find work and adjust to life here in Finland”.

Different Social Norms

The couple stated the struggle regarding social norms while moving from East-Africa to Finland, “Here in Finland socializing is difficult compared to Kenya and Tanzania. Making schedules to visit people and see friends is not natural to Kenyan mindset and it easily creates frustration to the Kenyan spouse. Spontaneously meeting friends and social atmosphere all over is missing in Finland and this is something we both miss here in Finland. In our “other home” our house was always full of friends and spontaneous get togethers happened almost daily.”

In addition, the couple added, “Coming from different backgrounds, how we were raised and how our families lived sometimes creates difference of opinions and contradictions when it comes to raising our children.”


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Photo's credit reserved to sehetki Photography


Shared Values

(“We want our children to grow healthy, happy and free to live their lives to the fullest”)

(“We believe in trusting each other and discussing through even difficult issues”)

(“We remain open to change and adjusting to whatever comes. In reality, it means that we are both ready to switch countries, continents, homes wherever life takes us. We are both quite free spirits and explorers and committed to following our intuition and heart.”)


Best Advice

Respect, Understand & Accept

(“There are some things you can never change about your partner because their culture is different than yours”)

Making Compromises and Giving Space

(“Making compromises and giving space to each other is important in any relationship but essential when living in between cultures”)

(“Focusing specially in giving space to the “minority” culture when living in Finland”)

Be sure what you are getting yourself into

(“Committing to a multicultural relationship forces you to change some of your known ways and make compromises you are not always comfortable with. You have to find a way to adjust”)


Stepping out of your comfort zone and making a new one together is inevitable

Written by: Dana

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