tips for raising healthy biracial children

Interview with an Expert of Biracial Studies

Happy Friday! In the past couple of weeks I’ve been busy writing two guest posts, two Huffington Post articles and completing this interview with Dr. Wardle. I came across his book, Tomorrow’s Children after an assignment in graduate school. We were tasked with picking an issue we were passionate about and finding ways to educate our fellow colleagues about the issue. Surprisingly to me, there was little research surrounding educating and raising biracial children. Dr. Wardle’s view on raising biracial children was a refreshing take and his book was a quick read.

As you can see, my book is now falling apart at the seams. As I was thinking about this next post, I considered reaching out to him to see if he would be interested in allowing me to interview him. I found his contact information on his website, The Center for the Study of Biracial Children. He emailed me back quickly with his home telephone number and we scheduled a date for the phone interview.

tips for raising healthy biracial children

If you’re unfamiliar with Dr. Wardle, here’s a brief bio: he has published eight books, two on multiracial children. He has also published about 400 articles in journals, national and international magazines, trade publications, interracial organization news letters, and popular newspapers, on a variety of subjects including interracial families, play,young children, playgrounds and education. He received his Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Early Childhood from the University of Kansas in 1983. Since 1997, he has been teaching at Red Rocks Community College in the Early Childhood department, serves as a teacher/mentor at the University of Phoenix School of Advanced Studies, and last but not least, he is a writer.

biracial studies

Diedre: Good evening! I’m so excited that despite your busy schedule, you’ve opened a spot for this interview. How are you?

**Dr. Wardle has a strong British accent. For those of you who don’t know, I like to practice my British accent in my free time. He got bonus points just for being British.**

Dr. Wardle: It’s no problem.

Diedre: Can you tell me how you met your wife?

Dr. Wardle: I was living in Kansas City, Missouri. She was living in the south part of town working on her Master’s degree in Special Education. I was teaching at an alternative school.  We were in a church basement and she was folk dancing.

Diedre: Was it love at first site?

Dr Wardle: No, we got to know each other and we’ve been married for 41  years.

Diedre: Wow, you almost don’t hear that anymore. When you decided you were going to marry her, did you think about the challenges of raising biracial children?

Dr. Wardle: No, we didn’t. It wasn’t until our 5 year old came home in tears after an argument with a  Mexican boy from downstairs. He told her that she was black and he was not. She was very upset and asked “How come I’m Black and he’s not, when he’s darker than me? We’re realized that we needed to figure out what to do. We were both educators, but never talked about racial identity.

Diedre: What other challenges did you face?

Dr. Wardle: Schools. Filling out forms. There was no choice for biracial. We refused to fill out black like people told us to do. One teacher told our daughter Maia to choose other. She said, “I’m not other, I’m a somebody.” No support in general.

Diedre: Parenting itself is a challenge. What additional challenges did you have raising biracial children?

Dr. Wardle: We talked to other educators and other people with biracial children. Several educators said, “We don’t know. We don’t have the research, so you have to wait.” Everyone said to raise them as black. Child Psychologists told us that as well. Our good friends Pat & Wolf helped us understand that if we raised our children as biracial, it would help them have a strong understand of both of our cultures.

Diedre: In your book, you say that biracial means both, not half and half. Can you speak more on that?

Dr. Wardle: To say that a child is half & half means that they are less than whole. You can’t tell a child that they are less than whole.

Diedre: Everyone calls Obama the first black president. What do you think?

Dr. Wardle: Well he’s not. He’s biracial.

Diedre: You say that all parents of biracial children must decide on the racial identity of their child. Why is that?

Dr. Wardle: If they don’t someone will do it for them.

Diedre: When should parents talk to their children about race?

Dr. Wardle: When they start asking. Typically this is around ages 4–6 when they start comparing themselves to others.

Diedre: How can educators make themselves more aware of issues surrounding biracial and multiracial students?

Dr. Wardle: By deconstructing everything they know about race. Colleges teach from a one race perspective. Read about mixed race people in history. Fredrick Douglass was biracial and his second wife was white. They can read statistics about mixed race families in this country.

Diedre: Thank you so much for your time. It was a pleasure talking with you.

Dr. Wardle: Your welcome.

center for the study of biracial children

“Children raised from the early years with a pride and appreciation of their total heritage have the best chance of developing into secure adults.” –Dr. Francis Wardle

What did you think about the interview? Do you agree with the points Dr. Wardle made about biracial/multiracial children?

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9 thoughts on “Interview with an Expert of Biracial Studies

  1. Janet CLark says:

    You practice your English accent, I’ve never heard that, says she with a chuckle! Great interview, the more I read of your blog, the more I realize just what a dilemma this issue (not sure that is the right word) is. You always describe your girls as biracial, is that different to what we describe as multiracial on our school forms or just a synonym?

    Liked by 1 person

    • dacounsel says:

      Thank you Janet! I do happen to know British person that validates my accent 🙂 Multiracial is usually used to describe 3 or more races/ethnicities combined. For example, if I was biracial (black & white) and then I married someone who was Hispanic, my children would be multiracial because they would be white, black & Hispanic. In my children’s case, since they are black & white, they are considered biracial. However if you shook all of our family trees, I’m sure we all would be multiracial.


    • dacounsel says:

      I think we are! The more we look at our family trees, the more we’ll see that we have in common with people who look completely different from us than those who look more like us. I was forced to think about racial issues when I married my husband and had my children.


  2. Mommy A to Z says:

    This is really interesting. I never thought about a lot of these issues. We’re a mixed-faith family, and people are always trying to pin down what religion my kids are (because “both” is not a satisfactory answer, apparently), and I can only imagine how much more intense these questions are with something as visual and “defining” as race. Thanks for sharing this at the Manic Mondays blog hop!


  3. Sharice says:

    Very interesting post. Some really great points that I never considered. I was taught at a young that race wasn’t so much about how I identified myself but what the world identified me as. That I never really thought about how it might impact those who truly don’t feel that black or white identifies who they are. My husband is white and when we have children we just naturally assumed that they would be considered black or that we at the very least would identify them that way but now we have something to think about.

    Liked by 1 person

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