How I Parent: A First-Generation American Stay-at-Home Mom with Two Kids Under 3

How I Parent explores the ins and outs of modern day parenting with moms and dads from all over the country, who are raising their own unique families and sharing their best advice and most heartfelt lessons with PEOPLE. Want to be a part of it? Email what makes your family so special to


Name: Jasmine Kashani
Location: Orange, California
Occupation: Stay-at-home mom
Family situation: Married with two kids, ages 2.5 and 7 months. I am their primary caretaker. My husband helps when he’s not working (full-time) and our mothers help when they visit from overseas.
Parenting “philosophy” in a sentence: Be structured yet flexible.

Leza Jeanne Photography

What was your journey to having the family life you have today?
I was originally told that I could not have children because of some very complicated health issues, so it was a happy surprise when I got pregnant with my son. It was a very fast jump into parenthood, and as excited as I was, I was terrified. A lot of my friends planned and prepared but my husband and I sort of flew by the seat of our pants. Once my son was about a year and a half, we found out that I was pregnant with my daughter.

The pregnancies were very difficult and a little traumatic because I was hospitalized for a week when I was pregnant with my daughter. I had to leave my son with my in-laws and it was devastating because he was so little and you could tell he was heartbroken. I know he won’t remember but it gave me additional mom guilt, which is already something you get when you have children.

The experience made it hard for me to initially bond with my kids. To prepare for my daughter, I had to take precautions. One of my health issues is rheumatoid arthritis, so we had to make sure we could find the lightest stroller and car seat. We also had to figure out what we were going to do if my hands weren’t working on a particular day. I had to think about how I was going to take care of my baby and how I could lift my baby. It really is a disability so you have to plan and have backup plans just in case.

So much of my pain is situated in my hands and I didn’t know anyone else who had to worry about these things. It’s still been a challenge but a baby carrier has been one of the biggest life savers because some days, I literally can’t carry my kid. When that happens, I’ll strap the baby carrier around my torso and carry my daughter around the house.

It’s been difficult, but at the same time, I always really wanted a family so I’ve found a way to make it work. You just have to get creative.

Jasmine Kashani

How did your upbringing influence your parenting style?
I’m Persian and first-generation American. That made growing up very interesting and sometimes difficult because of the culture barriers. In Persian culture, family comes first over everything. So instead of going out on a Friday night as a teenager, I was expected to be at a family party. Growing up Persian is like a generational upbringing. It’s all hands on deck — grandma’s there, grandpa’s there, mom is there, auntie’s there. Everybody comes together and helps raise the children and American culture is not like that at all. I’ve had to find a balance between what my parents taught me and my experience as an American. Right now, I’m trying to teach my children Farsi and other aspects of our culture. For example, Persian New Year is in March and we just started talking about it.

As great as it is to have two cultures to experience with your children, it’s also truly difficult to find a balance. I’ve been trying to find that balance since I was a child but the work I’m doing now will hopefully make it a lot easier for my kids. Making friends might be easier for them, just because they’ll have the benefit of their parents understanding the culture, versus growing up with immigrant parents who are learning the culture at the same time as you.

What’s your favorite thing about parenting?
It’s without a doubt the unsolicited hugs, kisses and cuddles but I also love watching them grow up. I hope that they’re able to find something they’re passionate about and that they pursue it, whatever it might be.

What’s the hardest part?
I still battle with my health every day, but I want my kids to know that I love them unconditionally. Even when I can’t be there for everything physically, I want them to know that I love them so much and I’m always doing the best that I can. Having small children is really demanding and it can take all of your energy but they grow up so quickly. My son is going to be 3 in the summer and I can’t believe it.

Leza Jeanne Photography

How do you find time for yourself and your relationship?
Well, I’m laughing because I don’t get too much time to myself or with my husband. The little time we do get, we cherish it so deeply. For example, when the kids are in bed, we’ll look at each other and say, “Hey, hi, how was your day?” We’ll get to catch up and have grownup conversations. To keep sane, it’s important to focus on ourselves and each other to sort of reconnect, otherwise you can get lost in this insane, exhausting parenting shuffle and not talk to each other for like three days.

We haven’t gone out in a while but when we do, it’s usually going out to dinner or something that doesn’t require me cooking or cleaning. It’s nice to talk to each other about other things but we usually end up talking about the kids because they’re such a huge part of our lives.

What’s the best advice you can share with new parents?
The best thing I ever heard is that babies don’t keep. Your house could be a mess and your head might feel like it’s spinning but your kids will only remember the time you spent with them so make the most of it. Moms with small children will tell you that the days are really long but the years go by so quickly.

Leza Jeanne Photography

How do you embrace the most unpredictable moments of parenthood?
Most of the time you have to laugh things off. Last week, my son was super sick with a 104 degree fever and he vomited all over me. It was one of those moments when I was like, “Well, I could get really mad about this or I could just laugh and realize that he’s super sick and the poor thing just needs help.” It’s remembering that their actions are not intended to hurt you, they’re just little people trying to figure out the world and it’s going to be okay.

What would you want your kids to say about you as a parent?
I would want my kids to say they know I love them but most of all, that I was fair. I was raised in a culture where parents were so much more lenient with boys than they were girls, so I want to make a point of treating them as fairly as possible. I always hated being told I couldn’t do the same things as my boy cousins. The rules were always more strict for me but that won’t be the case for my kids.

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