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View Full Version : An American Mom in Norway



ladybright
Sunday, November 2nd, 2008, 04:05 PM
A view of mixed heritage parenting. I am not sure that I would make the same choices she has but her journey is not mine. Source (http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/1015/p19s03-lifp.html)

Neither of my daughters has ever seen the pulse of fireflies on a summer evening. They think licorice is supposed to taste salty, not sweet. They've been known to wear wool sweaters in July. They insist that footballs are round and that Walt Disney's most enduring character is named Mikke Mus. If I hadn't seen their passports myself, I'd never believe they are both American.

I had been married to my Norwegian husband for almost a year when we moved to Oslo. We planned to start our family within a couple of years of our arrival. Although I knew this meant we'd be having our children in Norway, I hadn't fully grasped that they would be... Norwegian. Now, eight years later, I have two daughters who speak two languages, have dual citizenship, and carry four passports between them. This is not the way I imagined it would be.

The pangs I feel are small but frequent. I've grown thicker-skinned about my family's preference for goat-cheese sandwiches over PB&J. It's bittersweet, though, when I try in vain to convince my daughter that the Norwegian train song she likes to sing is really "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad," an American classic. The greatest pang of all comes in wondering if my daughters will ever truly understand their American-ness – and mine – if they don't experience an American childhood firsthand.

But there are advantages to my daughters' Norwegian ways: They offer me opportunities to be a fly on the wall. Although I also speak Norwegian, my girls tend to address me in English, so when they start speaking to their father in Norwegian, I am off duty. My 8-year-old's incessant questions are charming when they are directed at my husband in another language. I'm free to smile at her inquisitiveness and her growing understanding of the world. On the other hand, questions that begin in English, "Mamma, how do..." leave me cringing – and hoping that I won't get another biggie about hydroelectric power or the internal combustion engine.

My children's other cultural identity has taught me, as so many lessons of motherhood have, that I need to let go. This isn't about just me. When my first-grader marched by with her school in her first Norwegian National Day parade, I could easily – and selfishly – have thought, "Wrong flag, wrong day, wrong country," but I puffed up, instead, and thought, "Wow, that's my kid!"

My daughters' experience of life will be different from mine, and childhood won't be impoverished for them if it is not a replica of my own. It just took living in another country for me to realize that. The give-and-take of motherhood surprised me, too. Experiencing Scandinavian culture from the ground up along with my daughters enriches my experience of motherhood every day.

The reverse is also true. When we hosted a Halloween party and all the girls stroked the jack-o'-lantern we had carved – peering into its flickering, snaggle-tooth grin and saying, "Wow! Is that a real pumpkin?" – I saw my own culture afresh through their eyes.

I could think of my daughters as being foreign to me, to my experience of childhood, but, really, I'm the foreigner here. This is their journey, and there's a seat saved for me – a reminder that although I'm their parent, I'm not just meant to guide and teach; I'm meant to learn, too.

SouthernBoy
Sunday, November 2nd, 2008, 04:28 PM
Mixing between those of northern European descent is worse in some ways than race mixing. Because there is often no ostracization, the effects are far more insidious and can threaten the identity of a population in much fewer generations.

For Germanic preservation to succeed, we must stop the mixing of Germanics in all forms. There can be no compromise.

Hauke Haien
Sunday, November 2nd, 2008, 04:40 PM
How so? Our cultural destruction has advanced without any large scale Germanic mixing. If anything, our surplus women with conveniently dead husbands went to the US along with random soldiers and became fully American there while we became a cheap copy of America here.

SouthernBoy
Sunday, November 2nd, 2008, 05:10 PM
How so? Our cultural destruction has advanced without any large scale Germanic mixing.I think mixing is more probably a symptom of cultural degeneration and not a cause.
If anything, our surplus women with conveniently dead husbands went to the US along with random soldiers and became fully American there while we became a cheap copy of America here.This is an interesting analysis. ;)

Deary
Sunday, November 2nd, 2008, 05:26 PM
These are not the normal sacrifices a parent should have to make, and what's worse, she didn't anticipate it at all. I got homesick very quickly when I was visiting Europe. Soon enough, I lost the sense of intrigue and tired of their ways and wanted nothing more than to be back within the comforts of my own country and people. She must feel deeply isolated, not only as a foreigner in a country, but as a foreigner in her own family. Family are the people you should feel one with, not detached from. She has to watch and try to tolerate it as her children grow apart from her, and not in the manner that they should. All the things she wants to teach them are simply out of place. The peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fireworks on the fourth of July, singing American folk songs, etc. bring some of the fondest memories of all that, sadly, she cannot watch her children grow up with. I imagine there's an amazing amount of connection and joy built upon those those seemingly little things that she has likely all but lost. Her children probably won't ever be American. They might not even want to be. I fear she might eventually detest what she has brought upon herself. Her husband, at least, walked out with something, but she surely got the short end of the stick. This is often what happens when people of different heritages mix. Someone's heritage gets lost along the way and the children end up having to choose sides.

Hauke Haien
Sunday, November 2nd, 2008, 06:05 PM
I think mixing is more probably a symptom of cultural degeneration and not a cause.

I have progressed further in my genealogical research and found, unsurprisingly, that my ancestors generally remained on their native soil and became 'unstuck' with the advent of industrialization and improved transportation. That's when regional mixing began, at first from close regions across the immediate border, then on my mother's side across the North German plain and, finally, a Central German with regionally consistent ancestry. The matter is complicated by the fact that my East Prussian heritage is moribund for lack of soil.

Generally speaking though, I don't think it would have to be a problem if the processes that build community cohesion were still active in our society. Our liberal system is parasitic on previously achieved cohesion, liberating people from the ties that bind in order to increase mobility and profiting from their lingering stability at the same time. What has ceased to work is the re-integration of reshuffled components. This is how previous mixing between regions (e.g. colonization of East Prussia) or minor migrations between our peoples still resulted in culturally homogeneous tribes with functional communities. The persistent lack of these processes is why many Germans, regionally mixed or unmixed, when asked what it means to be German, will respond: "What does it mean to drink beer and love football? I don't know - I drink coke and love basketball. I don't know what it means to be German. I am Berlin, born here, I love this city but I don't know anything about being German." (http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=109797)

I forgot to connect this to the topic at hand: What really stuck out to me was her insistence on not being Norwegian. One would think that she had made a commitment to form part of a Norwegian family in Norway, but

Although I knew this meant we'd be having our children in Norway, I hadn't fully grasped that they would be... Norwegian.

This is, obviously, how it can't work, with or without children. It is a recipe for remaining an outsider for life instead of growing to become an almost accepted newcomer over the years. First generation immigrants seldom integrate fully, but she should be glad that her children do and make more of an effort herself to compensate. A community-oriented society would make sure to have her participate as a member of her social environment, but she is talking like an uninvolved observer here.

This is what she should do:

http://img371.imageshack.us/img371/7114/506027074a9bdda7092oou0.jpg

Pino
Sunday, November 2nd, 2008, 06:53 PM
Better off bringing the children up in a more traditional setting like Norway rarther than America the vulgar capital of the world.

the national anthem change would not bother me in the slightest if it was a fellow Germanic one, same goes for the choice in food.

It's amazing how this Women who wanted to stay true to her American roots chose to move to Norway and marry a Norweigen who had all sorts of different cultural values than she did, but it didn't bother her only when it was her children involved init.

Deary
Sunday, November 2nd, 2008, 07:57 PM
It's amazing how this Women who wanted to stay true to her American roots chose to move to Norway and marry a Norweigen who had all sorts of different cultural values than she did, but it didn't bother her only when it was her children involved init.

I think it's more of a case of her not understanding what she had until she lost it. I did not grasp just how different the cultures could be until I actually experienced them firsthand. She might not have known before she married her husband that they would move to Norway and it was probably a lot easier for her to think it would be managable to go to Norway with her Norwegian husband when she was still in America. Her move to Norway might even be her first time in another country and now she's stuck. For any proud American, I imagine the adjustments would be difficult.

Blood_Axis
Wednesday, November 5th, 2008, 11:41 AM
I have a hypothetican question to ask about this issue:

suppose the woman was an American of Norwegian descent. Say her grandparents or grand-grand parents originally came from Norway, but she was born and raised in America, did not speak the norwegian language and all.

Then she meets the norwegian dude, gets married and moves to Norway. And she writes the same article. What would it be then? Would you still think of it as 'mixing', or what?

And this is not a trick question, I'm merely trying to follow the reasoning of the american members :)

Jäger
Wednesday, November 5th, 2008, 12:06 PM
For any proud American, I imagine the adjustments would be difficult.
Impossible, not just difficult, and this goes for any proud citizen of any country, those people should not only not move in the first place, they should be denied to enter the country from a self interest perspective of the host, because they are not only making themselves unhappy, but they are also a great burden for the host country. Helping to destroy the group conscious.
This woman should be deported.

Sigurd
Wednesday, November 5th, 2008, 12:25 PM
And there you point out the crux of the matter, Blaxis. This is not about mixing, this is not about bi-culture --- the is about home and the connection you will only feel with a place that is home, or very similar to it.

I give you the prime example that could highlight different halfs of the same problem: I had an ex that had spent the most important parts of her youth in the Ruhr area - she never felt the same connection with the Tyrolese half of her heritage.

My next ex was virtually of the same ancestry - she also had a parent from either of the very same two areas: She spent the most important parts of her youth in Tyrol - I doubt she could ever feel at home if you suddenly deposited her in Dortmund, where here father hailed from. :P

My own grandmother likewise never had the same fits of homesickness: She is from the completely different end of the Phalian spectrum, in being from the Waldeck area. She found that Tyrol had the same rural mentality with somewhat similar surroundings: Forests that abund and the hills have been replaced by proper mountains.

I'm even sure that if you took a person from the Waldviertel, Tyrol, the Bayerischer Wald or Salzburg and placed them in the middle of Munich - they'd heavily feel out of place.

Sure, that's not what the woman who wrote the article said explictly, but it's a "part of the problem".

In addition to our heritage, and our culture, we tend to hold all that dear with which we grew up. I'm sure any housewife all over Germany could cook me a G'röstl, but it just wouldn't taste the same - if you know what I mean.

Even regionally, mentalities, certain customs and certain implications change. Overall, you tend to be understood in the wider Germanic area for your ways - but certain things can only be explained with the mentality you grew up with. The other day, Valkyrie and I established in off-board discussion for example that it's a very Bajuvarian thing to, after a disagreement just to say Kimm, låss ma's bleib'm. ("Come on, let's just leave it") - and it's IMO a sort of "holy end" to any type of feud you may have with your peers that most others who haven't been brought up with our mentality would never understand.

They could all be old stock German-Americans with their ancestors all hailing from places like Inzing, Untermitterdorf, Huglfing, Großarl or Vogtareuth --- they'd never understand that sentiment, even though they have that very same heritage.

And that's just because there's no place like home, and that's the place you'll identify most with. Even if you are just a Trondheim boy down in Oslo or a Innsbruck boy down in Munich. ;)

It's not a matter of just marrying the people from your own village, it's just a matter of being connected to your natural surroundings, which are the most natural expression of who you are. ;)

Nachtengel
Wednesday, November 5th, 2008, 12:52 PM
It's still mixing, even if it's not miscegenation. It's a vast difference in culture. These German-Americans, Norwegian-Americans or whatever they call themselves, keep insisting how they celebrate their European heritage, but they aren't like their European counterparts. I know a girl who immigrated from the US to Germany. I'll never consider her German. I don't care how many German ancestors she has. Her accent is American. Her way of being is American. Everything about her is American. I'd rather these people stayed in their place.

SwordOfTheVistula
Wednesday, November 5th, 2008, 01:44 PM
I don't see a problem with it-her children are Norwegian, you probably wouldn't know unless you asked them that their mother at one point resided in the US, and her grandchildren will be indistinguishable entirely from any Norwegian whose family has lived in Norway for hundreds or thousands of years.

Are not all children different from their parents, to a good degree? There seems to be a projection of differences onto irrelevant cultural differences. So these kids' mom carves pumpkins, I'm sure none of these kids' Norwegian friends have parents and families with different or unique family traditions?

Bridie
Wednesday, November 5th, 2008, 02:02 PM
This is what she should do:

http://img371.imageshack.us/img371/7...da7092oou0.jpg

Interesting perspective.

It's my opinion, from my own observations of the world, that women seem to be more adaptable by nature... more able to adapt to new cultural identities when in young adulthood they venture to start a family. In old European (and probably others too) tribal societies it was common enough from what I've read for young women to marry men from afar and then move to their new home raise their children as a part of this new, although very different, community. It's as though by marrying into this foreign tribe *perhaps* many came to identify with it. Yet men were never expected to do the same, generally speaking. And even in more modern times rural women would leave the family farm (which would be left to her brothers) to move on to a new community/area to start a family. I mean, women are even expected (and most often very happy) to take on the "family name" of her husband.... symbolic, at the least, of leaving part of her old identity to take on a new one.

In New World countries, stories of European women running off with "native" men and seemingly with ease coming to identify more with this "native" culture more than the one she was raised with is common enough.

Even if looking at ancient migratory patterns on the Earth, it is most often men who were mobile, but they would enforce their culture/language on the areas they migrated to... taking local wives from the men they conquered and forcing these women to assimilate to their own ways. One could say that in history, men have been assimilators, while women (and weak men) have been assimilatees. :D

It's my opinion that, unless consciously resisted, women tend to find social adaptation, assimilation and even forging new or flexible identities relatively easy. I think the woman in this article is probably merely expressing passing moments of sentimentality and emotional indulgence that most women do from time to time, and not much significance should be assigned to it.

I agree with Hauke Haien though, she should assimilate into Norwegian culture, and become a supporter of Norway for the sake of cohesion and stability in her family, as well as good self-esteem and national identity in her children. Whether she laments her past decisions at times or not, she made the commitment some years ago to marry a Norwegian man, move to Norway and create little children who would come to identify themselves as Norwegian, and she now must honour that commitment and make it a success. Mothers don't have the luxury of being as selfishly sentimental and idealistic as this American woman has seen fit to be in the writing her article.

TheGreatest
Saturday, November 8th, 2008, 03:35 AM
You now understand why us Americans don't like our own women.

What am I getting on about? Note that she has been trying to Amercanize her own daugthers... American women are stubborn, feminist and so on. I wouldn't be surprised if she was the ''man'' in the relationship.

Siebenbürgerin
Saturday, November 8th, 2008, 09:53 AM
Hmm, I think the best would be the woman adapts to the local culture and raises the children corresponding to the Norwegian culture. But that's easier said than done. The culture is a part of us. It's difficult to exchange it for another just like that. That's why ethnic mixing is wrong in my view, whether it's Norwegian and American, German and English, Swedish and Finnish or more. The best is to choose a partner with same culture as ours.

Teutonic
Friday, November 21st, 2008, 06:01 AM
It's still mixing, even if it's not miscegenation. It's a vast difference in culture. These German-Americans, Norwegian-Americans or whatever they call themselves, keep insisting how they celebrate their European heritage, but they aren't like their European counterparts. I know a girl who immigrated from the US to Germany. I'll never consider her German. I don't care how many German ancestors she has. Her accent is American. Her way of being is American. Everything about her is American. I'd rather these people stayed in their place.



it doesnt matter what or how you see us as now does it? how are you so harsh on German americans yet there is like what 10 million turks in our Fatherland?and yes it is mein Vaterland auch, weil meine oma und opa hatte deutschland gebaut. they helped build and take care of Germany with their hands and blood that same blood that runs in my veins. hell my deutsch ist wirklich schlecht, aber ich bin ein stolz deutscher zu sein. i know i will probably always have or atleast for a couple years have an american accent with my tongue but so what, all my blood is German.

i felt i would have a connection in Germany but not like i had, it was something great and i felt like i belonged somewhere.i found myself at night in berlin being protective of girls and women, and old men like they were my family, i never act taht way in the usa. a couple times while waiting for the sbahn late at night i had some girls come stand next to me and i was arrogant to think they thought i was cute, but then noticed turks not far from us so the girls came and stood next to me for protection.that made me feel good. i have never felt american although i should be as i was born in the midwest, with blond hair and blue eyes, but i doubt the midwest or usa gave me those:).i have always longed to see Germany, when i was a kid i read about what the americans did to my families friends in ww2, putting them into camps, having my grandfather not be able to go into town to buy food and supplies from certain stores because we had a German last name. I realized then where i belonged, and i was glad to have family that only fought on the German side, and not one of my relatives fight for the usa. non of us have to prove anything to people like you.my accent may be american for awhile but it will probably be more accepted and liked in Germany than the sachsen dialect.muahah i hate in Germany that they like the american accent though as i see it as another form of american culture shit being influenced on Germany like hiphop scheißdreck!! i like all the German dialects, but the Bavarian one the most, especially from small villages as it is the exact one my father, mother,oma and opa speak in. sorry for the rant but im tired and studying and moody, moody kind of like the female im responding too. bist du launisch?


that women from the article sounds like a moron, with low selfesteem and intelligence.i want my kids to speak and think and feel in nothing but German as i feel by what little is left of my watered down German roots slipping away from my family and me.all of my cousins marrying someone not even Germanic let alone German.not me.ich habe in den usa geboren aber meine herz und blut bleibt deutsch! ich liebe meine Vaterland über alles in der welt, ich liebe und ich leben für mein volk.for you also Todesengel, i would consider you a sister, even if you dont me a brother, weil habe ich eine Ami Akzent.

Schmetterling
Tuesday, December 9th, 2008, 06:02 AM
Sad situation, but hardly surprising, if you know Americans. In Europe footballs are round and all that. Americans can't adapt. Just look at what America is doing. Trying to convert other countries to its "democracy" instead of letting them live as they wish. So it's not a wonder the American mom would like her children to be like her, instead of adapting to the Norwegian realities. It's a selfish and destructive attitude.

The Aesthete
Tuesday, June 7th, 2011, 09:38 AM
Race comes first

Two Nordish are far better than someone Lappish who grew up in Sweden.

If the Nordish individual for example came from America even if she does not feel culturally Swedish she will at least appear it. Her children who grew up there will appear and act Swedish.

I have seen it often with Northern Europeans in my own country

One can also become encultured quite easily especially if the cultural gulf is small. I know an English bloke who moved here at age eighteen and he acts like every other aussie bloke now. He lost his accent and embraced aussie life

Ingvaeonic
Tuesday, June 7th, 2011, 09:59 AM
I can't understand why and what the American Mom in Norway is complaining about: she must have realised that if her kids have a Norwegian father and are brought up in Norway they would be Norwegian. If she didn't, she is as thick as two bricks. She should've adapted to Norwegian culture or got to hell out.

Caledonian
Tuesday, June 7th, 2011, 10:02 AM
Rather be in Northern Europe on my own around people just like myself than to live in my current city and location where I am a minority of 30%. ;)

[And let's be honest the city where I live at currently is practically the future of the entire United States at this rate.]

Ingvaeonic
Tuesday, June 7th, 2011, 10:06 AM
I could easily live in Norway, if it weren't for all the third-world dregs settled there and elsewhere in Scandinavia.

hyidi
Tuesday, June 7th, 2011, 01:34 PM
The Americans are the worst for not adapting to the country they moved too! Got two stories!

Any how,

If I ever move to another country and produce children,I am going to raise them as the host countries nationality,it's only fair and the right thing to do!

wittwer
Tuesday, June 7th, 2011, 07:36 PM
Come now, Europe would be far better off if it fully adopted Amerikan Kultur and mindset. You do know that we are the pinnacle of all Western Kultur and it's Kultural leader... ;)

Right ...! As the French would say, "Vive la Difference".