Multicultural family

Raising a Multicultural Family in Finland

Raising a Multicultural Family in Finland

I am always interested in why people move, why they move to and from Nordic countries. So when I got Paola to agree to come and talk about her story I knew that it would be a good one. Paola is Italian and has lived in Finland for a number of years. She is a mother of two and she is raising a multicultural family in Finland.

We sat down with a cup of tea to discuss how her journey took her to Finland and what she has learned to love about the northern European countries.

Who is Paola and How Did You End Up In Finland?

Paola laughs and tells me a story of her youth. She knew after studying Mathematics at a university in Italy that she would not be able to work in Italy. The society and the workforce were still very male orientated and the lack of equality bothered her. She started looking for options and ended up in Finland through a university exchange program.

She has loved living in Finland however she does still feel Italian when I ask how does she identify herself. She says the kids talk Finnish and Italian and Italian is the main language at home. She has learned the basics and can get by but would not do public speaking in Finnish.

She admits that it was a little bit of a cultural shock coming to Finland. Finns being very honest is a blessing and that everything works when nothing works in Italy.

[bctt tweet=”Coming to Finland was refreshing.” username=”thenordicmumpodcas”].

Paola laughs the social rules were opposite, personal space is appreaciated and like kissing a stranger is not the thing to do. Finland was not as multicultural like it is today.

Was There Acceptance from Society When You Arrived?

No, not really.

[bctt tweet=”People were curious about us.” username=”thenordicmumpodcas”].

But they were thinking we were just visiting. It is difficult to get inclusive services and be accepted as part of society. Both she and her husband talk Finnish but are not completely fluent. She says she feels more connected to Italy now than she did before.

How is Raising a Multicultural Family in Finland?

Parenting in Finland is not stressful. Society is supportive of having a career and being a parent. There are many benefits that help you and long parental leaves, a society that strives for gender equality.

She has a strong Indian and Italian support network from the ex-pat communities in Finland. This support network has helped to keep the cultures alive.

It has been hard to build the support network that you would have had in place in Italy. But the policies in the society have helped to have a balanced life.

Multicultural family in Finland

What are the Differences Between Italian and Finnish Parenting?

Italian is a more family-oriented society because there is a lack of parental policies on where to put your child to care when you work. So you need the family to help you out with the kids.  Italians live longer with their family than Finns who tend to move out when they go to Univesity.

There is no path for young people to be independent earlier and Italian mothers tend to be mothering their kids more than in the Nordics. Paola laughs that she needs to allow her kids to be more independent. Her kids are walking to school at age 7 which would be unheard of in Italy.

What are Your Tips for More Nordic Style Parenting?

Encourage kids to be independent. See your role as a parent empowering them.  Kids watch kids’ version of the news and they discuss the ethics at school of the meaning of the news. This is different from other countries.

What Have You Learned about Raising Multicultural Family?

Be ready to embrace the other culture, the culture that you do now know. Understand the other side of the kid’s identity. Grow them to be in peace with the culture they are from or the one that they are living in.

Raising kids in Finland

Are You Going to Stay in Finland?

She laughs and says that this is home for now. It is very likely that they are there until kids grow old. But not sure that they want to be there until they are old. She wonders how she would cope with the lack of Finnish language in her old age. She says they are there for the long term as they have a support child that they house part of the time as there is that connection as well.

How Do You Fit In with Your Positive Attitude in Finland?

We have a good laugh at this as Paola sees herself not confirming all the quirky Finnish rules. She says she thinks that many Finns probably would want to leave the old customs behind and being more open, smiley. Finland is a very homogenous society but she embraces diversity and there is lots of talk about the bigger need for immigration as the population is getting older.

[bctt tweet=”Finnish society likes to be as average as possible, diversity is not seen as a value.” username=”thenordicmumpodcas”].

How Did You Find Building Friendships in Multicultural Finland?

She says it is easy to build acquaintances with locals than deep meaningful friendships.  It is easier to have friendships with other expats with similar experiences. Finns tend to have strong childhood friendships that they harbor. I laugh with Paola as I see this same in Australia.

Her friendships are more with Italian in Finland and other expatriate groups as they get her the way she is.

Connect with Paola

Website: The Elephantmum
Instagram: @theelephantmum

Multicultural Finland

Connect With Me

You can connect with me on the following social platforms.

Facebook: @NordicMumSusanna
Instagram: @thenordicmum
Twitter: @NordicMumPodcas

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