Teens living between cultures

April 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Parents and teens have always had a difficult time understanding each other. Now imagine what it's like having a parent who grew up in an entirely different culture halfway around the world. Many people in the Bay Area know exactly what that's like. Author and motivational speaker, Mitali Perkins, talked with us about her experiences living between cultures.

Mitali's tips for parents raising kids in a culture not thier own:

1. Change you expectations.
Don't expect that your kids will grow up the way you did. Even your home culture has changed since you grew up. They will be fused culturally -- anticipate it and embrace it. You will change, too, thank goodness.

2. Listen to your kids.
Let them know that you have heard and understand the pressures they face as a border-crosser. You probably never experienced it yourself, but you can learn from them about it.

3. Stories can save you.
Good books can help you process the journey together. Read a story about race or culture with you child; it's a lot less in-your-face than conversation. I have lists on my website to get you started.

Mitali Perkins is the author of "First Daughter."

Buy the book on Amazon: First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover

About Mitali Perkins:

Mitali Perkins was born in Kolkata, India, but grew up in the Bay Area, settling in Martinez with my family when she was in middle school, and still feels at home in the Bay Area. She is the author of books for teens that explore the strange place she calls "life between cultures," a term that resonates with many children of immigrants.

Her newest books are two novels for teens about a fictional first daughter wannabe named Sameera Righton (Sparrow for short) whose father, an ex-diplomat, is a frontrunner in the race. Sparrow is adopted from Pakistan, so she deals with her own discomfort at being dragged into the spotlight as well as some voters' hesitation to have a person of Muslim heritage in the White House.

ALA's Booklist called First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover (Dutton, June 2007) a "fast, funny novel that will grab readers." Publisher's Weekly chimed in: "Sameera is an intelligent, witty and prepossessed heroine ... teens should enjoy this peek at the behind-the-scenes finessing that goes on in modern politics." The book has been widely praised for being fun, touching, clean, and engaging, and First Daughter: White House Rules (Dutton, February 2008), a sequel starring the same likeable protagonist, is also getting good reviews.

For more information, visit Mitali's Web site at: www.mitaliperkins.com


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