Saturday, January 29, 2011


Also edited by Suzanne Kamata, Call Me Okaasan reveals challenges faced by moms with multicultural families. As has noted, like much of Suzanne’s work, this essay collection explores “new ways of seeing family,” new ways that help those of us with traditional families understand what it takes to ensure a non-traditional family thrives. Meanwhile, Call Me Okaasan also reassures moms of “multi-culti” families they are not alone, that many others have traveled similar paths and succeeded. I found Call Me Okaasan so full of inspiring and revealing stories I’ve decided to write multiple posts in order to highlight writers whose works and writings reach far beyond its pages.

Concerns and challenges faced by moms with “multi-culti” families involve everything from language and foods to public perceptions, discrimination, and education to personal crises linked to adoption or identity issues. All this and more are explored in the pages of Call Me Okaasan, a valuable resource in this day and age of increasingly diverse and mobile families.

One of the surprising aspects of this book involves the role of children in multicultural families not only as family members in need of guidance, but as teachers to their own parents. As all parents ultimately learn and as Suzanne writes in her introduction, “Sometimes we can only observe from the sidelines as our children try to figure out what is expected of them,” allowing them to “ultimately work out issues of identity by themselves.”

Also in her introduction, Suzanne says that as an American mom based in an Asian country, she often found herself at odds with assumed parenting protocol. “The rules for motherhood, it seems, are different here, and are sometimes at odds with my beliefs,” she writes, citing surprising expectations for everything from what you should pack a child for lunch to how you should clothe him. Yet, she concludes, mothers in multicultural families, regardless of their locations, often find their efforts rewarded: “While mothering in a foreign country, or raising a child with a father from another culture, or learning about an adopted child’s native culture, our lives are frequently enriched, our visions expanded.” By reading of challenges faced by moms with unique families in countries as diverse as Japan, South Africa, and Australia, readers of Call Me Okaasan find their own views of motherhood enlightened as well.


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