Do you have to be British-born to be a British parent blogger?

October 10, 2011

I have two passports – one British, one Irish. I can trace my family tree all the way back to the 16th century on my ‘English’ side. But at that point, dear reader, my paternal side isn’t English at all. In fact, we were Hugenots, fleeing from France.

My son has dual citizenship – British, and New Zealand (which makes the rugby interesting). He can go and live and work in New Zealand (and Australia) when he’s older; or not. His choice. His dad and I see that as a bonus.

See, I’ve never really got the whole ‘nationality’ thing, because I’ve never felt remotely precious about it. Yes I was born in London, and most of the time I’m proud of that. But just because you weren’t born here, does that mean you don’t have the right to call yourself British, even if you live and work here, or if your kids have lived here most or all of their lives and go to British schools?

The reason I’m blogging about this is because in the past week I’ve been hearing people bemoan the fact that the organisers of the British parent bloggers group Brit Mums aren’t actually British, at least not in the born and raised here sense.

Now, leaving aside the fact that I don’t particularly like the name ‘Brit Mums’ (I’ve never referred to myself as a Brit or a Brit Mum, and I never will), I don’t believe you have to be born in Britain to be a British parent blogger.

If your kids are being raised here, go to school here, you pay taxes here, work here, vote here – well, that makes you a ‘British’ parent in my book. Whatever that means.

In fact, it doesn’t matter if you were born in Outer Mongolia, really, if you’re living here and raising kids here. At least, not to me.

But what do you think? Do you have to be British-born to be a British parent blogger? If someone is raising British-born children, doesn’t that make them a British parent? Or is it really so important to be born in Britain?

I’d love to hear all your views (but please, be respectful).

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  • Alison Perry October 14, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    I think the REAL question that needs to be asked is why isn’t it called BritParents?!

    (*puts down wooden spoon after quite enough stirring, thank you very much*)


  • Janis from ReallyKidFriendly October 14, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Oh I’m so confused!!! I’m a first generation Canadian with Indian, Portuguese, acadian and Irish blood, married to a Brit and raising two children in London.
    Having suffered despicable treatment at the hands of the British, my ancestors are probably rolling in their graves hearing my kids speak in their little English accents.
    I wouldn’t ever consider myself British, for historical reasons and such, but I certainly consider myself a Londoner. Does that count for anything?
    Anyhow, I think of Brit Mums as a great network for every mum who considers this home, whether by birth, descent or relevance of the content on their blog.
    Also agree with a previous comment – sometimes it takes fresh blood to stir things up and introduce something new, so well done Jen, Susanna, Karin et al.

  • Mummy's Little Monkey (@Jax2000) October 11, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    I like to refer to myself as a Britozlander Mum. I find it cuts through any confusion as to my origins (Kiwi and Australian, with two British kiddywinks).

  • Tola Popoola October 10, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    The real reason I joined BritMums was to find support as a new Nigerian expat mum living in the UK. Result: Found support and also became a blogger.

    Just last week, I discovered a blogging mum who lives in Nigeria but is definitely not an indigenous Nigerian nor Lagosian (from Lagos). Her blog is called Diary of a Lagos Mum. In fact, I think she’s British. Would I feel offended if she started a Lagos Mums group? No. If she takes the initiative no indigenous Nigerian or Lagosian is willing to take – end of.

  • Another Goldfish October 10, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    I find my nationality is defined by my accent. Though my parents are British and I’ve lived here 12 years, I’m not accepted as British.

    Instead I’m Canadian, a country I left when I was eight years old.

  • If I Could Escape October 10, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Very interesting question you’ve raised here. I’m also a dual national and although I identify with both, I definitely feel more British than I do American.

  • Crystal Jigsaw October 10, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    As a member of other networks including Bloggy Moms and Mommy Bloggers which are both USA based, I think I’d be a little offended if I were refused membership because I’m not American. So therefore, I feel strongly that it should not be an issue if you aren’t born British yet are a member of “BritMums”. I met a lovely lady a couple of years ago who is American and a member of BritMums and she’s very much a part of our British society.

    If we start segregating people because of their nationality, I suspect eventually, our blogging networks will become very tedious.

    CJ xx

  • Rosie Scribble October 10, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Nationality is a strange one. My sister is a British citizen and is raising two children in England. But in fact she is Chinese and that’s where her roots lie, but for her being a Chinese citizen in the UK made overseas travel very difficult, and being Chinese you can’t have a dual passport. So now she has a British passport and has had to surrender her Chinese one, making travel to her home country very difficult. In areas like this I think nationality does have a huge effect on your life, especially when you have to give one up, so to speak. But when it comes to blogging, it really isn’t important.

  • Nicki Cawood October 10, 2011 at 11:38 am

    The “BritMums” label to me signifies Mums that live in Britain, as opposed to it being a nationality thing. I personally aren’t fond of the title as it does come across as very niche, though I’m sure that isn’t the intention.

    I truly believe that in this day in age being British is much more about your state of mind than your birth place. Being proud of a place, feeling kinship with it and respecting it is as much as part of being British as paperwork.

    It bemuses me that people have an issue with it to be honest. Frankly, there is more than enough crap going on in the world without wasting time worrying about labelling people by nationality.

    By Nicki English, daughter of Brian Irish and Christine English. (It doesn’t matter does it!).

  • Nadine Hill October 10, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I was surprised to hear that some people were bemoaning the fact that the organisers of BritMums are not actually British.
    The way I look at it is, I’m British, I’m a Mum, this is a network for me- does it matter who organises it? Plenty of PR people who approach ‘mummy bloggers’ to ask them to review products aimed at mums are men- they are not mums, so should what they say or what they offer be any less credible because the man offering it is not a mum and the product is aimed at mums?
    I’m a big believer in the phrase ‘live and let live’. If someone is not hurting you in any way, what does it matter? I say ‘well done’ to anyone -British or not, mum or not, who has the get up and go and the vision to create something and make it great. Sadly it is always a lot easier to tear down rather than build up, I think we should all try to be less judgemental.

  • Maria October 10, 2011 at 9:49 am

    I am Chilean married to a kiwi with a daughter who has a kiwi passport but will be getting her a British one as its easier for travel. I’ve been in England for more than 30 years and I have kept my Chilean passport. I consider myself to be very English. I would consider myself to be a British parent as my daughter has already started in the school system. Some people want to draw lines. I personally would rather not.
    Being a Brit mum means you can also be english, scottish or welsh but I completely agree if you have children who go to school her and you are speaking as a parent in this country then that would qualify you to be in/on Brit mums.

  • Mish Mash Mum October 10, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I hate it when people try to define other people. It is how you feel. Go back far enough and I’m possibly German, Dutch, French and whatever else! Who cares? You’re contributing to this country. What an overflated sense of self some people have!

  • Isra October 10, 2011 at 8:48 am

    I was born in Sweden to iraqi parents and moved to London when I was 18 years old. If it weren’t for my son the question of being british wouldn’t have been raised. Like Liz says, when you’re raising a child here it’s completely different. He’s half english, and although I normally wouldn’t refer to myself as british, what else can I do when I’m raising a british child?


  • Kylie Hodges October 10, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I identify as British. My dad was born in Redcar, although my mum is Australian born as am I, however I have a British passport, and have lived here 10 years.

    Nationhood is the nation you choose, not necessarily the one you are born into, and its all so complicated these days, borders are fuzzy, its easy to move and relocate.

    Sometimes it takes “foreign” blood to get things moving and established, we see things slightly differently, bring in new ideas, surely that is a good thing?

  • Elsie Anderton October 10, 2011 at 8:41 am

    I’m with you – I was born in Iran to British parents and grew up in Germany. I don’t have anywhere that I particularly come from, but my heart (and my taxes) are British.
    I’m amazed this is an issue with people – afterall one of the most amazing things about this sceptred isle is our diversity, yes?

  • Karin @ BritMums October 10, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Hi Liz,
    Interesting question. I’ve had my “right” to be in this country called into question this year which ROYALLY upset me. I have lived in England for 6 years, paid a great deal of money to live, work and remain in this country legally, contribute through taxes and national insurance and have a half-English/half-American daughter who I am proud to raise in this wonderful country. The only obstacle I have toward British Citizenship is the now £600+ fee for doing so. I have taken my Citizenship test (and passed with flying colours 25/25), lived and worked here and only need the form and to pledge allegiance to the Queen. All of which I will do when I get the spare chunk of change to do so as I feel it’s important to be British if I’m living and working in this country and have a British child.
    I don’t believe you have to be BORN AND BRED British to be British. I am a resident of this country and therefore entitled to benefit from and enjoy everything it has to offer, as long as I do so legally. And I have.
    The founders of BritMums are naturalised and adopted citizens and have lived, worked & raised children in this country for 30 years collectively. I think that qualifies to be a “BritMum”. Anyone who thinks otherwise better have a pretty good argument as to why…
    Great question and one that should provide some interesting responses.
    🙂 Karin @ BritMums

  • Elaine October 10, 2011 at 8:31 am

    I think that it is a self-defining thing… if you feel able to call yourselve British then you should be included whether you are an American living in London, a Brit overseas or someone who has never left the British Isles… but then I’m quite open minded when it comes to blogging and don’t get involved with the politics of it all 🙂