Adolescence is one of the most challenging times in any child’s life. They are trying to find who they are, they are seeking out their own ideas on faith and trying to figure out where they fit into the world. Then there are the hormones, peer pressures and the stress of doing well in school on top of it all. That’s a lot, but biracial children often struggle with their racial identity more in the teen years than in any other. This is a problem unique to them and them alone, and every child’s journey is different.
Let’s face it, the average man or woman of a single race is oblivious to the issue a biracial person has to face both internal and external. They are also oblivious to just how much of a role that society plays in that struggle. Oftentimes our children are automatically seen as minorities which only makes it harder for them in their search for their own identity. Piled on top of that comes the threat of the same racism, injustice, abuse and hindrances that many African American children face daily in this country.
We can mince words all we want but it is what it is. We must worry about (and pray over) our children, especially if we are parenting young men. In raising our children we have to teach then valuable life lessons as teens that will get them through tough or even dangerous situations alive. We must also teach them that it is the fault of those who choose to remain ignorant and has nothing to do with them. This is not something that a parent of a single race…well no, this is not something that white parents of white children, ever have to deal with. It doesn’t enter their mind, because our reality is a very different place than theirs.
What can we do to empower our children?
Though it is tough at times to see eye to eye with a teenager, we have to communicate with them and they must know that they are loved. They need to know when no one else has their back, we do. Parents, together or not, must be on the same page regarding rules and the children’s decision in their own racial identity. Trying to force one race or the other on them will only reap havoc on their hearts and minds. They will get enough of that from the world outside.
It is up to us to build them up.
Open lines of communication about race must be in place.
The same lines of communication must be available for topics concerning racism, bias and prejudice. The fact is that there will always be those who feel people need to be labeled, they will stereotype and we can’t do anything about it. The problem is in them and not our children.
It’s important to go to cultural events and attractions that embrace many different diverse groups. It leads them to be more well rounded. Make sure that you are also exposing them to cultures from both sides of their heritage every chance you can. On one hand you don’t want to shove any one of the other down their throat but your goal is to help them to love both sides of who they are (thence, heir whole selves).
Also, seeking out a school where there are other multiracial children is a plus. It should not be difficult since the biracial population is on the rise. As a matter of fact, you can tell your child that regardless of what anyone says they are far from being a minority.
Do not hesitate to challenge anyone no matter who it is if they try to make you or your child choose one single race. It does not matter if it is the teacher, a school official or a social worker, your child id more than one race. Don’t allow anyone to force them into a box.
While I am the mother of a biracial child I have a few years before we enter into the teen zone (though sometimes her attitude makes me recalculate the years). There is no research I can possibly do that would compare to experience, so I encourage you to share on the topic below. ~Spring
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