We Are Family Podcast, Episode 12: 'Somos Familia' With 'OITNB' 's Dascha Polanco

Orange Is the New Black star Dascha Polanco and Parents Latina Editor in Chief Grace Bastidas talk multicultural parenting.

Dascha with kids
Photo: Timothy Smith

In the final episode of Season 1, hosts Shaun T and Julia Dennison talk to Orange Is the New Black star Dascha Polanco and Parents Latina Editor in Chief Grace Bastidas all about raising kids in a bilingual, multicultural home.

After becoming a mom in her teens, Polanco juggled going to school, working, and being a parent. Recently featured in Parents Latina alongside her 18-year-old daughter Dasany and her 11-year-old son Aryam, raising her kids with a strong sense of their Domincan-American identity—and making sure they were bilingual—was crucial.

"For me, it was always I'm Dominican at home and then I'm in New York and from Brooklyn in school," says Polanco. "As I became a parent, it was important for me to do the best that I could to do as much as my parents did with keeping the culture alive—with keeping the language alive in my household—with my children."

And Bastidas, whose family is originally from Colombia, feels the same when it comes to her children—though she admits that raising bilingual kids is no easy feat.

"It requires discipline, consistency, support from extended family," says Bastidas. "Parents worry if their kids will get confused or if they'll struggle in school. I've been raising my daughters bilingual since day one, and I know firsthand how difficult it can be. But I stuck at it, and I stuck at it so much that it just became hard to speak any other language to them."

With her husband, who's from England and doesn't speak a word of Spanish, Bastidas wants to keep the culture and traditions going in her family.

"As a first-generation immigrant, I'm as Latina as I am American," says Bastidas. "I'm really focused on helping my daughters feel proud of every part of who they are."

Episodes this season to catch up on:

  1. Shaun T and Julia Tell All
  2. Parenting Trans Kids, With Ally Sheedy and Her Son Beckett
  3. Papa, Dada, and Babies Make 4
  4. Mob Queen's Michael Seligman on Coming Out as an Adopted Child and Finding His 'Found Family'
  5. How To Be A Good Foster Parent
  6. Black Families Matter
  7. "Are You My Dad?" "Do You Need Me To Be?"
  8. Single Parenting Heroes
  9. A Happy Divorce
  10. Let's Get Real About IVF and Surrogacy
  11. Parenting With Disability and Chronic Illness

Listen to We Are Family on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart, TuneIn, Stitcher, Google and everywhere podcasts are available.

Listen to episode 12 right now: Parents.com/FamilyPod-Ep12

Plus, follow along here:

Dascha Polanco: My daughter and my son understand that I am fun. But I also need for them to understand that I know what's best for them right now. Uh, como se dice—there's a saying in Spanish that once a trunk, right? It sounds better in Spanish, but I'm going to explain it to you that once a tree trunk is twisted, it grows up crooked. You can never straighten it back up.

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Julia: Hi, I'm Julia Dennison.

Shaun: And I'm Shaun T.

Julia: And this is We Are Family, a podcast from Parents magazine. In this show we celebrate all the different ways there are to build and be a family.

Shaun: Julia, I am so excited about today's episode. We're talking to Dascha Polanco. Some of you may know her as the actor who played Dayanara Diaz on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. We caught up about how she parents and what family means to her.

Julia: Dascha became a mom in her teens and then juggled parenting, work, and college classes all at once before she pursued acting. It took a while for her to really give herself credit for all that hard work and be proud of it.

Shaun: Now, she has two kids, and she's raising them with a strong sense of their Dominican-American identity. Dascha, her 18-year-old daughter Dasany, and her 11-year-old son Aryam were recently featured in a cover story for Parents Latina magazine.

Julia: We're also going to chat with Parents Latina editor-in-chief Grace Bastidas about bringing up her daughters in a bilingual, multicultural home.

Shaun: But first, we'll hear from Dascha.

Dascha: Hi, my name is Dascha Polanco.

Shaun T: I love the way you say your name. Can you say it again? Just for fun.

Julia: It's beautiful.

Dascha: Dascha Polanco. I'm gonna tell you why.

Shaun T: Oh tell me why.

Dascha: Why? Because I had this conversation the other day where I was like, "Yo, my name was invented in Spanish. So every time I do interviews, I'm like, it doesn't sound right. Dascha Polanco. That's not how it goes. It's Dascha Polanco." So now, I'm owning it and I'm like, hi, my name is Dascha Polanco. You know what I mean?

Authenticity, Shaun, authenticity.

Shaun T: I love that. Dascha Palanco.

Julia: Dascha was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to Brooklyn with her parents when she was 2 years old.

Dascha: Immigrating here, at the age of 2, people would think, "Oh, You don't know anything about your culture. You're here. You're basically American." Um, I mean, at least that's what our community expresses.

So for me, it was always I'm Dominican at home and then I'm in New York and from Brooklyn in school. As I became a parent, um, it was important for me to do the best that I could to do as much as my parents did with keeping the culture alive—with keeping the language alive in my household,—with my children.

For me, it was easier to maintain my bilingual language because I would speak Spanish at home and then when I was in school or outside of my home, I would then speak English. You know, language is a big thing, um, in, in the Latinx community, because it's our roots, you know. It's what basically certifies you as oh, OK, yeah, you're Dominican. Oh yeah. You're Puerto Rican because you speak Spanish. But also in my household food, music, I think all those components help to keep culture alive.

Dascha with son
Timothy Smith

Shaun T: I like how you mentioned food too, because one of the things that we saw, you know, where I was growing up was the cookouts that you guys have. They be lit. You driving down the street, your windows can be up, you can have your music on, and you still hear the music and you still see, you can still smell the food and you can still, you know, enjoy, like you can see the culture happening.

Dascha: Those things are so cultural. Like I remember my mom for, for barbecues or for big events like we do sancocho, which is like this huge, like, I want to say it's like a gumbo. You know what I mean? And it has everything. It has chicken, beef, all type of root vegetables, and flavor and garlic and oregano and all this stuff that you're like when you, when you're young, you don't understand how important it is to be able to experience those flavors. You know, like our rice, como esta habichuela with our beans. And you know, in a barbecue, honey, when we do them ribs, you know, you have to like, we could make this a little food podcast.

Julia: No, I love this. I mean, food is so much part of family and memory, isn't it?

I had a huge amount of Dominican influence, just, you know, like, by the very fact that I was actually brought up by, um, a full-time babysitter. She was Dominican and I'm trying to, I've been trying to recreate her chicken and rice. Like my, what I was brought up on. Like I dream of her chicken and rice and I've never tasted anything quite like it. I keep trying to figure out the recipe and replicate it and never quite get there. But that's why I'm so happy I live in Queens now and I'm so happy that my daughter is growing up in Queens. I'm thrilled to bring up my daughter in such a melting pot.

I think in America, the more that these kids can be experiencing each other's culture and food is just a really great place to start. I mean, I wasn't thinking consciously of it. I was like, Oh, this mofongo is delicious. Like, let me have some more.

Dascha: Oh, que rico.

Julia: So let's talk a little bit about your parenting journey, Dascha. I am also a single mom who co-parents. So I look to your story and, you know, I read your cover story in Parents Latina, and I was so inspired. Can you talk us through it? So you became a mom in your teens unexpectedly, and then you had to work hard to support your family and go to college while raising your daughter and your mother also took care of your daughter. How did you navigate that identity between being a mom, a student, and a teenager growing up?

Dascha: To be honest, you know, I would have these self-talk conversations like your hot ass should have waited. You knew better. You should have waited. You know, how many times did you speak to yourself in the mirror? And you're like, you know what, not the best decision. But I am going to tell you something. I look back now and I really can't understand how I was able to do it. How I handled it mentally, because during all that I was so focused on providing and making ends meet that I didn't have time to really parent or take care of myself as it is expected or as we considered a standard. But it's a constant reflection that I need to remind myself of because I've been very hard on myself as a parent.

I never stepped back and looked at what I was doing as like, damn, you are powerful. Like, you are getting shit done. Let me give you a high five real quick because a lot of people can't even handle school and work, you know, and being in college, I wouldn't tell people I'm a parent, um, because I didn't want to get the reaction of everyone, "oh my God, you're a parent. Wow. I never knew. You don't look like you're a mother." Like blah and all that kind of stuff that, that was like the feedback that I would get. To hear my fellow college students or um, you know, coworkers that would complain about, "Oh my God, I have all this homework to do and I have to go home."

And I'm like, I wish I was going home. I wish I could take a break, but after here I'm going to work and then I have to make sure that in the middle of this, I accommodate my classes so that I could go to my daughter's pre-K class and read to the class. Cause that's what I would do, you know, so that at least I show face for her there.

Shaun: Dascha's experience as a first-time mom wasn't just complicated by the fact that she was young, going to school, and working at night. Her daughter was also born prematurely, at 28 weeks, and spent the first few months of her life in the NICU.

Dascha: I mean, she looked like a lizard, like a little rat, you know, she would have to wear like the little, it's like a little cloth, um, thing that they put over them and all these tubes and feed and I would try to go breastfeed and it was just a lot going on for an individual, period.

Shaun: When she got pregnant again, at the age of 25, having her second child was a completely different experience—and one she feels lucky to have shared with her daughter.

Dascha: it was a collective effort between my daughter and I, because we got to enjoy her little brother and my son together. She was so helpful. We enjoyed it. I was more mature. I was in another position in my life. You know, I had a better job. You know, it was a healthy baby. It was totally different parenting. The second time around for me was totally different.

I got to experience what it really is to have a baby straight from the hospital, come home, have to breastfeed, have to, you know, not sleep, sleep with the baby, spoil the baby. I got to experience that in contrast to my daughter, where I didn't have her home for two months, you know? So there was a little bit of a disconnect as to what the experience is like, you know, I have a baby for nine months in your tummy or for seven, and then you're supposed to have them with you and then not to have them with you. So it was something that I always appreciated—the fact that my son and my daughter and I were together and experiencing it together. We're all growing together. Honestly, I am grateful that I started young and I was able to grow with my kids.

Julia: Dascha's mom had played a huge role in her daughter's early years, but she passed away when Dasany was little. Dascha's dad was in prison. Without their parents around, she and her siblings had to support each other.

Dascha: I lived with my brother and my sister, and my sister has two girls—my nieces. So my sister and I, we were kind of pregnant at the same time. So the house was full of four kids. And then I had a little cousin that was living with me at the time, real Spanish. OK. So it was three of us, five kids in the house and my partner at the time, and that was our home and that was our support. We bought food in bulk and we, you know, looked out for each other.

My sister worked at night, she worked at the airport at Delta and I was taking care of my little nieces. You know, I raised them. I helped her raise them. So we helped each other within the household, if I had to travel, I had my partner at the time and my sister and she would take care of, so it was, it was a team effort.

Shaun: Dascha's daughter helped a lot too, and now she and her little brother are very close.

Dascha: Honestly, they have a great relationship. It's great to see that my son calls my daughter and he's like, uh, "I need a pair of sneakers, are you gonna buy them for me?" Like, it's that kind of relationship. And then she has to "come see, are you going to come see me? You never come see me." It was that kind of relationship. So I enjoy that. They're all very united and look out for each other.

Julia: So how do you set boundaries as a young mom? In your cover story with Parents Latina, you said something along the lines of "I'm your mother, I'm not your friend." Um, and I think that's, I know as a mom, even of a 4-year-old, I'm like, I kind of want to be the cool mom, but also I have to set boundaries and kind of, you know, discipline. What does that mean to you? Mother versus friend.

Dascha: Well, it means to me that in the house, you need to be very transparent. You need to have boundaries, you need to have rules, and you need to have respect. You need to understand something—you have a life under your responsibility.

You know, this isn't like, oh, um a bird, dog. No, this is a life, a human being, life that later on will grow into an adult and will be exposed to the world. And so my daughter and my son understand that I am fun. And that I, you know, I'm open to a conversation and to having those intimate talks and for me to be able to like hear them and express them.

But I also need for them to understand that I know what's best for them right now. Um, and so we all have to start when they're very little, you cannot start, uh, you cannot … Uh, como se dice—there's a saying in Spanish that once a trunk, right? It sounds better in Spanish, it grows up crooked. You can never straighten it back up.

And you know that there's times where you could let things slide by, but there's also times where you have to really educate and teach them to understand that me punishing you or showing you some rules, boundaries is not me not loving you. It's me actually loving you and teaching you how to have character to develop into a strong, resilient, human being.

Julia: So well put.

Shaun T: It's so well put I'm like, can we just drop the mic? You know, Julia, as she was saying beforehand, you know, her daughter was having a temper tantrum and I'm, and my kids are both in a place where I'm like, do you really think you can beat me? Like, are you swinging? Like, it's just like this crazy thing and you gotta like...

Dascha: How old are they?

Shaun T: They are 2 years, I think 2 years, 8 months now. 2 years, 8 months, or 2 years 9 months.

Dascha: Oh my god, no, they're so cute.

Shaun T: They're so cute, and they're sassy, but you know, I have to turn my head and laugh sometimes cause I'm like, I say to Scott, I'm like, can you believe that they actually just took our own words and twisted it on us like that? Um, but you know, it's fun. And I agree with everything you said. I think, you know, Julia, throughout this podcast has actually taught me a lot just in terms of, like, how to let your kids express their emotions.

Kind of like how you said you had to like, you had to plot a little bit to get the real information out, but it's also in that situation, allowing our children to express themselves to show feelings. Cause I, I was one of the guilty parents that would be like "no crying or you go to timeout" and, you know, after talking to Julia, now I let them cry. I'm more talking about, "well, why are you crying? What are you feeling?" You know? And I let them express that emotion until they start, you know, either hitting them, hitting me, or throwing themselves on the floor. That's when you get time out. But.

Dascha: Oh honey, you better. Yeah. That hitting? No, no, no, no, no. You know what I would do to my kids when they were crying? "Oh, you want to cry? Don't worry, cry." You know, when my mom used to tell us if I cried you're not going to cry blood. So cry, cry, cry, cry, all you want. Cry all you want. And then, you know, you give 'em a shower. Let's take your shower. You can take them that shower, calm down, baby.

Now sit, and eat what you have to eat and finish what you have to do and that's it. That's what I would do. You know, because kids will push you as much as you allow them to push you. You know, you need to like, hold on, remind them. And then you're like, all right, we're on the same page now.

Julia: Crying does not kill you. Let it out. Let it out.

Shaun: Dascha's acting career took off when she was cast on Orange Is the New Black, which is set at a women's prison. Her character, Dayanara, gets incarcerated with her mother, and later gives birth inside.

But at the time, Dascha wasn't open about the fact that she had a loved one locked up in real life. It's something she's talking more about now—and we'll hear about it after the break. Stay with us.

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Julia: Welcome back to We Are Family. We're talking to actor and mom of two Dascha Polanco, who played Dayanara Diaz on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black.

Shaun T: You know, with the protests after George Floyd's death, there has been an increased focus on policing and incarceration and how these systems disproportionately impact Black and brown people. And we know you're an activist with the Innocence Project and you played an incarcerated mother on TV, and you told Parents Latina that your own father and your daughter's father have been incarcerated.

Can you talk to us a little bit about how the criminal justice system impacts families and what changes you would like to see and how listeners can get involved?

Dascha: There's so much work to be done, you guys, from all different angles. But when it comes to incarceration and the effects that it has on a family, it feels like you have to live in fear or be embarrassed, or, you know, you're part of the crime committed. And for you to live like that from a very young age, um, it feels like you always have to defend yourself from the powers that be. You know, when you go visit, um, when you have to speak to lawyers, when you have to, you know, I'm the one helping my father out with everything and it becomes a job and it becomes heavy and it becomes guilt. And there's so many emotions that I've gone through that I'm like, you know, I don't want to turn my back on my father. And that's the same thing that my, my daughter, um, at a very young age kind of felt, but obviously from a different scale.

For the judicial system, it's just this number, this criminal, crime committed. For me it's my father making a mistake and not a bad person, you know? And so it creates like a, like you understand that there's repercussions and you understand that there's consequences, but you never accept the hurt, the turmoil, the dysfunction that it causes in your family. Once my mom passed, I had to take care of my sister, my brother, even though they were, um, you know, they were teens or whatever. So for me, having to take that on and my brother not having his father and his mother, he became very mentally unhealthy. Um, and so it just, you notice that it causes not only separation. It causes long-term effects where as an adult now I'm like, oh, that's why I don't like late night calls because, you know, it's, it was a bad news, you know, or that's why I have to, I have to speak up because we're not, we're not the crime, that's not what identifies us.

It affects not only the family, but then it also affects the communities, because it's so common in the community and we allow, and we accept it and it has to be, there has to be a way where we dismantle and look at the root of the problem and not try to like damage control it after.

Julia: So let's talk a little bit more about Orange Is the New Black we're obviously big fans here. What would you say you've learned about family from working on the show?

Dascha: Um, well, one of the things that I could say was to have the experience of giving birth in a hospital, and then having to play Dayanara, um, give birth at Litchfield was something that I had never thought of as a parent. That, you know, women are giving births in jails. And it was like an eye-opening moment for me, because I felt that this is not right. This is, this should not be allowed. Period. It's unsanitary, this is inhumane. Um, and I learned that I had to speak up about it.

Um, as far as family, um, families are built or you're, you're born into them. Um, They're all different structures in family, and we need to start learning how to mind our business because of how families are constructed. Um, and who's parenting, um, we have households where it's heterosexuals, where it's homosexuals, where it's, you know, all the letters, LGBT whoever, where it's adopted in, where it's, you know, an aunt that had to raise you or it's a cousin, um, and that's your family. And we need to. I think that the nucleus of a family is values, morals, love, support, and celebration. That's it.

Julia: You have just summed up the elevator pitch for this podcast, right there.

Shaun T: I know.

Julia: It's all about celebrating all the different ways that people can be families and that you just nailed it right there. As a fellow co-parenting single mom, I'm always curious about other people's set-ups. So I had to ask how she and Dasany and Aryam's dads handle things.

Dascha: I've had luck with my, um, baby daddies, my children's fathers. However you want to call it.

Shaun T: Either way.

Dascha: I love baby daddy. Um, because we are able to, I don't play none of that nonsense stuff—like that drama stuff. I don't do that. I just want you to be involved in our children's life. That's what's important.

Julia: What's co-parenting like for you? Do you have a specific schedule?

Dascha: My life has never been a schedule. My life is pretty much like, listen, you want to come and pick him up? Sure, come and pick him up. Um, I want to take him here. Uh, you want to go there? Sure. Oh, listen. What are you thinking about this? School starts in September—you can have him for the month. Like, there's no type of like "this weekend you have him." Obviously we work around each other. Like if he's having a celebration or he wants to have him, like for the whole summer, then I'm like, sure, go ahead. If I want to have them, like, there's no problem when it comes to us understanding that we want to be part of our kid's life and that we just want the best.

Shaun T: What are you most proud of um, as a mom?

Dascha: As a mom, you know what, I'm proud that my kids—as much as I was caught up in working and getting myself somewhere—that they have turned out to be such good-hearted human beings. You know, they have their default, they have their little personalities or sometimes I just want to ha-ha but they make me so proud when I hear them be strong and be vulnerable and be able to express themselves in a way.

And not be harmful. My kids speak up on what's right. My kids know that they are from the Dominican Republic, that they're Black, that they're Latinx. That they're, you know, I try to fill them with all the information as much as possible to make them able to be malleable in any type of situation. And that's what makes me proud. As much as I thought that I wasn't doing a good job. I sure as hell did. So. Yeah.

Julia: Amen.

Shaun: Dascha's kids have grown up seeing her work hard and pursue her dreams as an actor. And they're proud of her. But to Dasany and Aryam, their mom's job is no big deal.

Dascha: Maybe when I have an Oscar or maybe when I win a Grammy, they'll probably like, understand the importance. But right now, they're like, oh yeah, my mom's cool. Yeah. Let's go take pictures for a magazine. Yeah. Yeah, I'll model that kind of stuff. It's like they brush it right off.

Shaun T: But you've already won that Oscar as a mom, so, you know.

Dascha: OK. Maria, that's what I want. Maria.

Shaun T: Maria.

Dascha: Madre Maria.

Shaun T: I love it.

Julia: Dascha, thanks so much for talking to us. This has been such a pleasure.

Shaun T: Yeah. Thank you so much.

Julia: Dascha has so much parenting wisdom to share—she's another person I want on speed dial when I need advice with Ezzie.

Shaun: Julia, me too.

Julia: Another person I love to talk about all things parenting with is my colleague Grace Bastidas, who edits Parents Latina and put Dascha on the cover of their June/July issue.

So before we go, let's check in with her too, about how to parent in a multicultural family and how to introduce your child to diverse cultures—no matter where you're from.

Grace Bastidas: So my family is from Colombia, a city called Barranquilla, which is where I like to say Shakira, Sofía Vergara, and Grace Bastidas are from.

Julia: [Laughter] Holy Trinity. So, obviously Grace, we work very closely together and I miss, I miss your fabulous outfits and your smiling face that I used to see every day in the office. But you are the founding editor of Parents Latina magazine. Can you tell our listeners who may not be familiar with it, who it's for and why does the world need it?

Grace: So Parents Latina is geared towards English dominant, Latino moms and dads raising kids who are rooted in their family's heritage, traditions, and values. So no matter where our readers live or what their ethnicity is, we give them a sense of community they don't really find elsewhere. We let them know they're not alone in this mission to raise kids who are proud of their identity, their roots.

And I think that the world needs this magazine more than ever when there's so much hostility towards Latinos in this country. We need to stick together and really feel empowered to raise that next generation of leaders. Um, we know that the Latino population is huge and it's only getting bigger, so we really aim to empower and inspire parents to celebrate the community and really see themselves in the pages of our magazine because, you know, I live in New York surrounded by Latinos, but not everybody does. So I want them to see familiar faces and feel like the stories we put in the pages of our magazine and across our social content. I want them to feel represented and included and celebrated.

I actually thought growing up, I was Colombian. I was convinced I was born over there and I just happened to live in Queens at the time until I became an adult and I had my first job and I had this coworker who once said to me, when did you immigrate? And I was like, huh, like I'm from Queens, born and bred.

Grace Bastidas and family
Ana Gambuto

But I was just so proud of my culture and I would talk about it all the time. And that's because my parents being immigrants, raised me in a very Colombian household. We ate the food, we listened to the music, we only spoke Spanish at home. All our friends were Colombian. So it wasn't really hard to instill that pride in me and my sister. And also when I was growing up in Queens, I was surrounded by kids of every possible culture. My friends were Indian, Dominican, Filipino so you kind of need it to have your own culture and many of these kids even wore like their native outfits.

So you weren't just American growing up in, in the neighborhood I grew up in, which is Elmhurst. Um Hmm. That's where I was Colombian and I didn't add the hyphen American until much later.

Julia: What would you say some of the common questions you get from readers who are raising multicultural kids?

Grace: So one of the most common questions is always around language. Um, that seems to be a mind-boggling thing. Most readers want to raise bilingual kids, even if they didn't grow up speaking Spanish.

But it's not always easy. It requires discipline, consistency, support from extended family. Parents worry if their kids will get confused or if they'll struggle in school. Um, I've been raising my daughters bilingual since day one, and I know firsthand how difficult it can be. Um, you know, when my oldest was born, she's 7 now. When she was born 7 years ago, and I started speaking in Spanish, I was like, who is talking? Who's that lady? Um, just because, you know, I was used to speaking to the older generation and suddenly you're making all these like googoo, gaga noises in Spanish, and it just does not even sound like you, but I stuck at it, and I stuck at it so much that it just became hard to speak any other language to them.

And, you know, the funniest thing is that my husband, who was from England, does not speak a word of Spanish. So, um, that, that's really the, um, what's, what's the secret to our marriage, [laughter] understanding each other. But, you know, it's just, that was a bigger hurdle because he couldn't support me on that journey, so I had to figure out ways to do it in a way that did not feel disruptive to our family life and nowadays, we can all sit at our table and have a conversation. And the girls talk to him in English. They talk to me in Spanish. I talk to them in English. I talk to the girls in Spanish. And it's just one big hodgepodge of words and language. And we're able to have a cohesive conversation. And that's just been really eye-opening because I grew up speaking Spanish, so I didn't see how my language acquisition developed.

But to see it in my girls is really just incredible. How they can code switch and how they can just, they understand so much. And even from a young age, they knew who spoke Spanish and who didn't speak Spanish.

Julia: Raising your two daughters, how are you instilling this sense of culture and heritage in them?

Grace: So, you know, they're really growing up much differently than I did. I lived in an immigrant neighborhood, in a small apartment with parents who were just trying to get by, and they were really holding onto their traditions from their homelands. They live with one foot in the U.S. and one of them Colombia. So as a first-generation immigrant, I'm as Latina as I am American. I'm more comfortable financially than my parents were. A lot of that is thanks to their sacrifices. I'm really focused on helping my daughters feel proud of every part of who they are.

So obviously since I'm in charge of the Colombian side, I like to play a lot of Latin music at home and try to get them to dance with me. And of course, shimmy their shoulders and hips as any card-carrying Latina would do. Uh, I also surround them with family as much as possible, um, and all my family and when we get together, we can't help but speak Spanish.

Julia: I would love if you have any advice to listeners who are thinking about raising their kids in a bilingual home or in a bilingual fashion or a multicultural home, what are things to consider?

Grace: Well, I think the beauty of living in this country is that you can celebrate all cultures. So while I make sure that my daughters know a lot about Colombia, my husband's always talking about England. I also talked to them about Mexico and Day of the Dead. Our babysitter's from Argentina. So they know a whole lot about tango. Um, and they even speak with this Argentinian lilt that I've made my peace with, cause it's not the Colombian accent, obviously.

So I guess one of my tips is to make room for others cultures, especially if you want to raise multicultural kids, because you really want kids to realize that there's so much beauty in diversity.

Julia: Thank you for everything.

Grace: Thank you so much for having me, guys. I really enjoyed this conversation.

Cute kid tape:

Me llamo Grace

Me llamo Eva

Me llamo Stella

y somos familia!

Shaun:And that's all for this episode. You can find Dascha on Instagram at @sheisdash and check out her cover story in Parents Latina or at @parentslatina on instagram.

If you'd like to get involved in issues around incarceration and families, go to parents.com/podcast for the organizations Dascha supports and other ways you can help.

Julia: Thanks for listening to We Are Family. We've loved having these conversations, and having YOU as part of the Parents fam. Follow us on Instagram at @parents, and if you're just joining us, don't miss our earlier episodes. We had so many great guests, from Kandi Burruss talking about her experience with surrogacy, to Jamie-Lynn Sigler sharing how she parents with MS, to one Brooklyn man who's been a foster dad to over 50 teens.

Shaun:To all you parents out there, hopefully this podcast has helped you in your parenting journey. Always trust and believe in who YOU are as a parent.

Julia: Thanks to our production team at Pod People: Rachael King, Eliza Lambert, Susie Armitage, and Lene Bech Sillisen. This show was recorded in New York and Arizona, edited in New York City, and can be found wherever you get your podcasts. You can find out more at parents.com/podcast. You can find Parents on Instagram at @Parents. And you can follow Shaun at @ShaunT, and Julia at @juliadennison.

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