Biracial children are just like any other children. That’s what you would think…but there are apparently some interesting characteristics that biracial children acquire, just from having parents of two different races. This diverse background has profound impacts on your child’s psychological development. You may be surprised to know some of the things that are unique to biracial children.
Did you know these facts about Biracial Kids…?
Biracial infants recognize faces more quickly than monoracial babies?
A psychologist at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, Kristin Pauker, has been studying biracial babies and adults and their ability to recognize faces. In one study, Pauker showed that biracial babies use a different process for recognizing faces than monoracial babies. Another study showed that biracial adults use less essentialist views of human traits which allow them to recognize faces of all races with greater accuracy. What does this mean? They use less of a fixed view of characteristics based on race, and are more likely to see that all humans can have different facial characteristics. So, they might not necessarily assume Asian’s eyes should look a certain way, or that white people have more pronounced noses.
Bilingual children don’t have accents?
Bilingual children are also often biracial. Children who are bilingual from birth will have no accent in either of the languages they speak, all because their ears were tuned in at the right time to learn the different language patterns and sounds.
Biracial children are smarter?
Well, maybe not precisely, but it may be easier to prepare biracial people to perform better on certain tests. Sarah Gaither conducted a study in 2015 showing that when reminded of their mixed heritage, biracial participants scored higher in a series of word association games and other tests that measure creative problem solving. However, when monoracial people were reminded of their heritage, their performance didn’t improve. Mental flexibility is enhanced by having multiple self-identities.
Biracial children are resilient?
Because of their biracial heritage, biracial children are more likely to be empathetic and show appreciation for other cultures. In addition, they’re less likely to believe in racial stereotypes because they know that race is a social construct. Others may believe that race is biological even though this is not true, and assume that racial stereotypes hold true. Some common examples are that all Asian students are good at math or that all black students are good at basketball.
Biracial children are high achievers?
Research shows that biracial children don’t have any different needs or show differences in self-esteem or psychiatric problems. Previously, researchers thought that it was better for biracial children to identify with only one of their races. We now know that this isn’t true, and on the contrary, biracial children tend to have a strong sense of self, tolerate diversity and are also high achievers.
Biracial children are better adjusted?
Research points to the fact that multiracial children may be better adjusted, in that they experience less psychological stress, than monoracial children, no matter what race. Some of the indicators showed that the biracial children felt less alienated and engaged less in problem behaviors such as substance abuse or absences from school. This may be because multiracial children make their own rules and definitions surrounding their identity. What’s more is they are more psychologically flexible.
Fascinating, isn’t it? Who knew all of the amazing and interesting things that are a result of being biracial?
One important takeaway from the facts listed above is that some of them may not be true for multiracial children who are forced or encouraged to identify as one race over the other. Divorce and separation may also alter the way that biracial children view their background, influencing them to favor one race or culture over the other.
It’s also important to remember that there may be cases in which discrimination may occur, even within our own families. For example, relatives may favor monoracial children over biracial grandchildren or nieces and nephews. Microaggressions and assumptions about biracial people and their families can also be negative and frustrating.
This just goes to show that we aren’t ever left off the hook as parents. On the contrary, we must still work hard to instill a strong sense of identity in our children, and celebrate the cultures they are a part of. Our duty is to help them appreciate the entirety of their background and heritage as much as possible. So, what can we do to enhance the positives associated with being biracial?
- Expose them to many cultures and people
One of the key points of the study showing that biracial people may be able to identify faces better than monoracial people is that biracial children routinely see their parents and potentially extended family members of more than one race. If you are able to expose your children to racially diverse groups of people, you’ll enhance this effect. What’s more, teaching your children about different cultures and races around the world will also encourage them to be empathetic and accepting of others.
- Celebrate a variety of traditions.
An easy and fun way to expose your children to all parts of their background is by celebrating holidays and traditions from all relevant cultures. This means you might celebrate more holidays or two versions of the same holiday.
- Encourage dialogue.
Rather than avoiding talk about race, encourage it! The more your children feel able to discuss their questions with you, the more likely they’ll talk with you instead of bottling up questions. Through conversations about race and your child’s background, you can address some of the negative experiences they may encounter and how to respond to them as well.
Biracial children enjoy many benefits from their diverse background. However, it requires work on the part of the parents in order to encourage these positive elements to prevail.
Now, you tell us. Were there any facts about biracial children that surprised you? What do you do to help your biracial children embrace their heritage? ~Rachel Peachy
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