Defining Terms – a draft!

Last week I posted a first draft of the diagram below on instagram after seeing some confusion on the internet and in real life over some terms. Some people use these terms interchangeably but they are indeed 3 separate concepts. Would you suggest any changes? Have you found these to be confusing for you or others?


I drafted the first version on a napkin and then received some great feedback from other moms on instagram and revised above. Melanie made the insightful comment that the term ‘multicultural’ can apply to people too! (Of course I should have thought to include that important point as it’s literally the name of my blog…!) Jennifer had another great addition that ‘intercultural’ can be between two or more cultures. Thankful for a community of parents to help revise ideas!

As parents we know the words we use for our children matter. Their own identity journey matters greatly. It is ultimately not up to me to say how my children should or will identify (whether in our case as Asian American or Chinese American or Chinese Dutch American or mixed or hapa or some other term I haven’t thought of!) For our family, the most important part of this conversation is that they have positive experiences celebrating and exploring their unique cultural heritage and learning and appreciating other cultures around the world.

I want to end by sharing my friend Katie’s short video about the question she receives the most, “What is your ethnicity?” I relate a lot to her father’s comments to her, “You’re not half of a human being! It makes you 200%!” To which she replies, “that seems a bit dramatic…but…powerful.” I hope and pray my bicultural kids grow up to know they are powerful in small and big ways too! 

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