Mixed race families are quickly becoming the new wholesome face of the American family. The proof is all around us from the Cheerios commercials to new sitcoms and even in the blended families we see every day. What then are so many biracial children still struggling to find their identities?
The truth is that though our family dynamic is becoming a new normal, the system still fights allowing them to be simply who they are. As parents we can infuse the tools they need to overcome and find acceptance in an unaccepting world. It all begins with boosting their confidence and pride in the wonderful little people that they are and the changes they can make in the world as they grow.
Just remember our children are children like any other. Make sure that they too know that.
- Help your child cultivate pride in and positive feelings about their differences. Stand proud on who you are and the family that you have chosen to create. If you feel your child may be feeling ashamed or has some confusion surrounding who they are then gently remind them that their amazing dimensions and unique identity will give them the advantage in the end.
- Go with the flow. If your child wants to identify one way one day and another the next, let them. Some days my 6-year-old says she is the color of the rainbow, and I accept that. This is because I told her she can be whatever color she chooses to be. She got the rainbow idea from a book that I often read to her about a black and white dog on a journey to find out what color he is really. I think it is a wonderful interpretation for her age. Our children are a part of two races, so let them embrace that. The most important thing is that both races are getting adequate air time.
- Know where both sides of the family come from. Knowing family history is a wonderful tool to use. Knowing their heritage will induce pride and their history. When you can offer your child a foundation of rich culture and let them know what the journey was leading up to them you are giving them a sense of pride. This is especially true when you can pinpoint the heroes and triumphs that go with the legacies on both sides.
- Rude people will come into play. Anticipate their rudeness and forgive it often. In doing this you are showing your child that their infractions actually take nothing from your family. Teaching our children to tolerate the stupidity and understand that the problem lies in ignorance and not in who they are is essential.
- Don’t shy away from using leverage. Who doesn’t love a celebrity? Point out our famous mixed celebrities, our mixed president and help them identify with their own sense of belonging. The sky is the limit! Stay proud while teaching them to do the same.
- Education is so fundamental. School is the only place next to home where our children will engage in real discussions concerning race. You want to choose a school that will nurture diversity.
- Remember that there is strength in numbers. You want to make sure that your child is aware that this world is changing fast. They need to know that there are a whole lot of families out there just like theirs. If you can attend events or do anything to get your child involved in activities that expose them to other blended families, then do so!
- Don’t tiptoe around the real issues. Just keep your explanations age appropriate. Right now my answer is normally “because that’s how God made us”. The older my daughter gets the more valuable information I will allow her to receive. Peoples reaction to our family does not define our family, and it is important that your child know that it does not define them either. Teach them tolerance and grace and they will rise above.
- You create your environment. You choose their school, circles and community. Do not let the world do it for you. Start them early with a mindset that they are in control of their own reality. As they grow older tell them how far the world has come and what they can do to make it go ever farther.
- Most of all give them the unconditional love that every child deserves. Arm them with the poise and self-confidence needed to overcome and accomplish in today’s world.
At the end of the day we just want to raise strong, happy, healthy children who are well rounded and strong enough to get through the hard times intact. We can do that through preparation and love. Education is of course a very important part of it all.
Teach them to excel beyond societies wildest expectations and to make a difference, if even a small one, in the world around them. Do involve yourselves in a community, like BiracialBoom.com, to share and learn from one another as we go. Like a said, there is strength in numbers.
Please feel free to comment on the post so that others can get the maximum benefits from the information here. It takes a village. ~ Spring Lee
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