5 Effective Tips to Raise Biracial Children
As a momma raising amazing biracial children, who are as amazing as any other child of any skin color, I feel we all share some similar joys and challenges. We all work hard to prepare our children for a world that is far from perfect, has a long way to go and yet we want our children to be happy, accept themselves and their beautiful blend of cultures.
These are five tips I’d like to share that I believe are effective to help us raise our biracial children to be comfortable in their own pigmented skin and embrace their cultures.
I believe it is vital to select a neighborhood, school and church that is diverse.
The last thing your biracial child needs is to be stared at because they are the only biracial child or the only child with color. I believe it is also important that their play dates, social groups, sporting events, clubs and social situations also need to be diverse. They need to see people from all walks of life laughing, playing, working and loving life together. It is my opinion that our biracial children should never be the only child in the area with pigmented skin. They need to see the good in all of us, not just what is often portrayed.
Just as important as your child not being stared at because of being biracial is being sure your child is influenced positively in a diverse background. This will help your child feel more normal and more welcome. Being around different cultures and races including biracial will help your child be more comfortable in their own skin and understand their own identities better. We always want to make sure our biracial children see and know others who share the other side of their ethnic mix. We believe they need to know there are wonderful, strong, intelligent great people who share their ethnicity. I also believe our children should see other biracial children and biracial adults too.
2. Not matching, dealing with curious questions and having biracial children is part of our normal.
It’s not a reason to worry and our situations are our normal. With that said, we need to discuss skin color openly and without hesitation or awkwardness even when it is difficult and challenging to us personally. We even need to discuss facial features in an age appropriate way. We need to let the questions come, answer honestly and let the discussions be welcomed. We do our best to not make a big deal out of these questions and these conversations. We understand this is our normal and we want the children to be able to embrace “this normal”.
Our children should know that our family not matching, looking different from even their parents, relatives and friends is no reason for concern, embarrassment and that nothing is wrong and especially that nothing is wrong with them. They need to understand not everyone is biracial and families do not always look-alike but that we are still a family filled with love. Our biracial children need to learn to understand the meaning of the word biracial. It is a tough word to explain and I’m not certain it will get easier as they get older. They also need to understand their two cultures. This is easier said than done. We make an intentional effort to be sure it is happening on a regular basis.
3. Our child knows about both cultures, we also feel that if only one culture is represented to the child, the child will have difficulty understanding their identity.
We work hard to teach our child to be himself, even if that is more like one culture than the other. We encourage and teach them to embrace things from both cultures. We let him create what feels best to him and what makes him comfortable and happy. It may end up being a beautiful blend of both cultures, taking some traditions from each.
4. One of the tougher things I have to do is to be sure I am being a good role model when asked questions I perceive as nosey, rude or racist.
We work diligently and hard to prep our children for the rude, wrong, well-meaning or mean questions and comments they may encounter. There’s no easy way to prepare our biracial children for curious people who may be just meeting him for the first time and asking questions. We explain that people are confused and curious. We try to help them to be confident and courageous about facing questions and we encourage them not to become afraid, upset, frustrated, hurt or angry.
We teach them that many times these questions are from well-meaning people and curious people. They are occasionally from rude people with bad intentions. Our children know that at anytime they can stop the conversation and say they prefer not to discuss this. I believe it is acceptable to teach my children that they do not have to answer if the question or conversation is making them feel uncomfortable, feel less than or intimidated.
5. One of the fun ways we are supportive about our non-matching family is to share stories of other biracial people who are well-adjusted, content and successful such as President Barack Obama, actress Halle Berry and actor Keanu Reeves.
We also look for and point out biracial people in our state, city and neighborhood who are happy, comfortable and successful. We are also intentional about noticing kind, smiling and successful biracial people in our church, school and community. We also love to watch movies and read books about being biracial or with biracial characters. We believe all of this helps our biracial children realize there’s nothing wrong with them.
Parenting is the best thing I’ve ever done, the most challenging and the most rewarding. I believe biracial parenting adds a bit more of a learning curve, a bit more challenges but seeing our biracial children grow, learn, thrive and fight racism is an incredibly rewarding experience. ~Francine Dylan
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