According to Dr. Francis Wardle, the author of the Center for the Studies of Biracial Children, “A multicultural curriculum for young children should focus on affirmation and acknowledgement of everyone, making sure that every child and every family is represented in the classroom environment and in all curricular materials, and that there are lots and lots of opportunities for rich human contact between children and a vast variety of diverse, mature, and talented adults.”
As parents of biracial children, we can’t depend on society to teach them who they are, and how to appreciate themselves. It’s our job to teach them those things, as well as how to appreciate people who are different from them.
So how do you meet the needs of your biracial child if you only identify as one race? Can you truly meet their needs? I believe you can. Here’s how:
*Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about negative experiences outside of home and how to respond. As a school counselor, I’ve had to talk to several black children this year about other students using the N word or making derogatory comments towards them. When I ask if they’ve spoken with their parents about it, most of the time the answer is no. It’s our job as parents to make a safe environment for our kids to talk about difficult topics. Unfortunately things like this may happen because not everyone is taught to value and appreciate differences. We need to teach our kids how to feel empowered instead of cower when these things happen to them. Some of this will come with age and maturity, but they should know that home is always a safe space to discuss uncomfortable things.
*Teach them to be proud of their mixture. I know that most people aren’t trying to be offensive when they ask questions like, “What are you mixed with?” or “Where did you get that curly hair from?” However, questions like that often make kids feel embarrassed about their heritage.
As a child of Jamaican parents, I remember bringing a bun and cheese sandwich for lunch and my classmates scowled and asked me what I was eating in disgust. I immediately became embarrassed and tried to hide my food. It wasn’t until later when classmates complimented my parents accents that I was proud of my heritage. I’m not proud of my embarrassment, but that moment reminds me that it’s my job to teach my children to be proud of their mixture.
*If you are blending cultures, embrace both. Instead of competing to see whose culture is more prominent, educate your children about both cultures, and have them participate in cultural experiences with both sides of the family. We took a trip to Jamaica in 2013 when Melody was 2. My husband got to meet my Grandmother’s siblings, as well as spend some time in the country. It was so beautiful to see him embrace my culture and it was so lovely to see my family embrace him!
*Buy books that display diverse families/characters. When I was younger, I was drawn to books about different cultures due to being raised on an Air Force Base. I was constantly surrounded with classmates who had traveled the world, or interracial marriages. I had several neighbors that would cook their international foods and share with us. This was such a pleasant experience for me! One of my favorite books was How My Parent Learned to Eat. How My Parent Learned to Eat.
It’s a lovely story about a biracial child learning to navigate both cultures. Who knew that I’d one day raise my own biracial children and write this blog!
*Volunteer to read one of these books in your child’s class. If your child’s class doesn’t have a class set of books that are diverse, offer to bring one of your books and read to the class.
How do you think parents can meet the needs of their biracial children? I’ll be following this post with another just for educators.
Are you raising biracial children? I’d love to see them! #arethoseyourkids on Twitter or Instagram so I can see your beautiful kids!