I am originally from Africa. I am a mother of three children. I came to America when my children were four, six, and eight years old. I had an assumption that everything would be great within one to two years. However, I have been in the USA for over ten years and I am still working to overcome the challenges that I have faced. Let me share with you some challenges related to cultural differences, specifically those regarding my family’s eating habits.
First when my kids were still little they would eat our traditional food and they would enjoyed it. However, when they grew up I observed that the distance between us in eating preferences widened to the point where they were no longer interested in our traditional food. As an immigrant mother, I was worried. I had a discussion with many immigrant mothers and they expressed the same feeling.
I thought about a solution to reunite our kids with us at our dinner table. I was looking for practical and an effective solution. I reflected on my conflict transformation course that I studied at the International Training Institute at Brattleboro, Vermont. Then, I discussed with my kids their need to eat with us. I understood that one of their cultural needs is American food. I thought our need was traditional food. I tried to see if both parties would be willing to compromise. I thought about our nutrition program that focuses on the benefits of helping immigrants to maintain their healthy lifestyles and prepare healthy meals for their families. I understood that it will help immigrants to cook American food to unify the parents and children at the dinner table.
The first dish that Mary Ann, our nutritionist, taught us was broccoli with chicken. When she said that we don’t need to use salt, I was skeptical about eating that dish. However, it was delicious.
I went shopping immediately after the session. It took me less than half an hour to have dinner ready. My kids came with a mindset of having traditional food on our dinner table, but they were surprised that we had different food. They tried it with caution, but then they cheered. They ate and they asked me if they could store it for the next day’s lunch. They asked me, “Mom, how do you know how to cook this delicious dish? Is this from your nutrition program?” Then, my husband asked me, “What happened? I have never seen our kids eat and be happy about your cooking like today.”
As a result of this program, I learned that if we work diligently to maintain our healthy lifestyle and cook a healthy meal for our families, we will bring our children back to our dinner table excited.