The term "hafu" (literally, half) is commonly used in Japan for anyone who has one Japanese parent and one from another cultural background or nationality. The term grates on many foreign parents because it implies that the non-Japanese side of their background somehow renders them “incomplete.”
I certainly disliked the term when I became a mom for the first time following the birth of my son. I spent a lot of time and energy earnestly asking people, friends and strangers alike, to refer to my child as “daburu” or “double.” I even wrote an article for a bilingual magazine, entitled “Please Don’t Call My Baby a ‘Half’” and advocating for the use of the term “double” instead.
Looking back at the article now, I cringe inwardly. By the time the second of my two daughters arrived to complete my trio of kids, I was beginning to tire of the “what to call bicultural children” conversation. I began to think, “Why do we need to label them at all? They are kids who just happen to have parents from two different backgrounds. Get over it already!” Older and wiser, I now know that it isn’t that simple.
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