Growing up in a Caribbean household comes with its unique quirks and cultural traditions that leave a lasting impact. Whether it’s the legendary biscuit tin, the never-ending gatherings or the carbs at every meal, these experiences shape your upbringing and give you and your diaspora community in the United States something to laugh over forever.

1. There are no biscuits in the tin

If you need the sewing needle and thread, check the biscuit tin. If you need a clip for your hair — biscuit tin. After all of the sweet treats have been eaten, these tins become home for sewing equipment, car key holders, hair accessories, passports and other necessary knick-knacks that should be out of sight.

2. Talking back was a risk you weren’t willing to take

Have you ever heard your non-Caribbean friends talk back to their parents and think “wow, if I ever did that…” In a Caribbean household, talking back to your parents was a surefire way to get into trouble, or receive a quick smack across the head. And while others might think it harsh, if you grew up in the Caribbean, you know our parents are known for their tough love that doesn’t tolerate disrespect or attitude.

3. You never touched the “good” china

Unless it was Christmas or Easter, or the pastor was coming to dinner, the treasured dishes from the antique china cabinet were never taken from their protected perch. These “good” crockery pieces were reserved for special occasions… if you were lucky. 

4. Everyone is late, all the time

Ever heard of “island time?” Yeah, it’s real. Punctuality is a rarity in the Caribbean and even among the diaspora abroad. “See you soon” means “I’ve just started getting ready,” and a reservation for 11am brunch will inevitably get pushed to 1pm.

10 Signs You Grew Up in a Caribbean Household

5. You’ll probably never meet all of your extended family

Think you’ve met all your family? Think again. Family gatherings are never dull in island communities, partly because you might meet a new aunt, nephew or fourth cousin each time. It’s almost impossible to keep track of everyone in the extended family tree, especially when the “we’re expecting” announcements keep popping up on Facebook.

6. “You don’t know how easy you have it”

If you’re thinking of complaining about something trivial like how long you stood in line at the DMV or how slow the WIFI was at a coffee shop, clear your schedule for the next hour as your parents recount stories of crossing croc-infested rivers just to get to school or how they had to make up games with sticks, string, bottle caps and juice boxes to have fun back when smart phones weren’t invented. Trust — they’re not going to let you forget how good you’ve got it.

7. Heading inside? You better be barefoot or wearing house slippers

If you thought you were just going to walk inside the house after a long day at school, think again. Wearing shoes inside your home was basically forbidden. Caribbean parents are strict when it comes to cleanliness, so the thought of dirty shoes on their pristine floors or carpets was absolutely unacceptable.

8. The living room wasn’t for living

Your house had two living rooms: one for actual living and one that was off-limits to the immediate family. The latter, often lacking the “junk” of everyday life and filled with nice furniture (often covered in plastic), was reserved strictly for guests. You could easily live in that house for 18 years without ever setting foot in this space.

9. “Wait, what did they say?”

Growing up in a Caribbean family with a strong accent often meant you had to be the translator between your parents and your American friends, teachers or waitstaff. While their native Patois or Kreyol sayings made perfect sense to you, conversations with others always seemed to take twice as long.

10 Signs You Grew Up in a Caribbean Household

10. Rice and beans at brunch, lunch and dinner

It didn’t matter if you were having griot, jerk chicken or carne asada, your main meal is likely to include a heaping portion of some iteration of rice and beans. 


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