How to Meet the Needs of Your Biracial Child (at Home)

how to meet the needs.jpg

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.

19.jpg

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.

IMG_0790.JPG

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.

IMG_4104.JPG

*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!

Jason Hurst Photography-5.jpg

*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!

 

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “How to Meet the Needs of Your Biracial Child (at Home)

  1. Marion says:

    I came upon this blog by accident. It is so sad that you focus so much on your children being biracial rather than seeing them as your own. It broke my heart to read two of your posts on the subject. Being of mixed race is not a handicap just like any other color isn’t. My children too are black and white, but I raise them as people the same way my parents raised me as a person not as a color. When I look at them, I don’t see their color rather the essence of their person. I’m Black by the way. Everything should not just be about race. It is very tiring to not be able to turn around without seeing post about race. To each his own, but your little ones should not be treated as mixed by their own mom. I told my kids to celebrate both cultures and explained to them they were a perfect mix of mommy and daddy. Many of my friends have mixed kids as well, but race is not a conversation that we have in our own specific household. I raise my kids to see themselves as people and not to see color the same way my parents raised me. When I was a kid, my parents bought me books from all over the world. They were not focussed on buying me books with only Black folks illustrated on their pages. Today as an adult, I have friends from every continent in the world and I don’t see their color but only their character. I was saddened that your blog rather than focusing on your amazing journey as a mom, put so much emphasis on your journey as being the mom of mixed kids as though they were props. That is heartbreaking. For the longest time, I wondered why a group of Americans particularly where so stuck on race. Now it is becoming apparent that when parents raise their kids with so much emphasis on their skin color rather than on their character, we have a society where everyone mostly discusses race incessantly. People will be people, who cares how many silly questions strangers ask you whether those kids are yours. I get them all the time so do many others. However, I accordingly deal with those and individuals who think they have the right to invite themselves to my children’s private space and touch their hair. Nonetheless, how my kids react to that behavior has a lot to do with how I control my emotional response and talk to them about it while teaching them how to politely decline any offer to feel their hair texture. I wish you all the best in your endeavor as a mother.

    Like

    • Diedre says:

      Marion, first thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on my blog. I’m sorry that you thought the message of my blog was that having biracial children is a handicap. If you take some time and read through my posts, I think that you will see that is the exact opposite message I am trying to send. For example, in my post about teaching your kids to love the skin they’re in, I am speaking to parents of all children, regardless of race or culture. My blog also focuses on culture, specifically because of my own experience of being raised in a Jamaican family. It would be nice to say that we are all the same and we all have the same needs, but that just isn’t the case. I was raised on a military base, and for the most part, my diverse group of friends were treated equally. I live in the south, and I can tell you that isn’t always the case. To not talk to my kids about their identity to me would be irresponsible. My suggestions about parenting, culture, identity and race are just that, suggestions. You have to do what you feel is best for you in your family. I want my children to know that they are a beautiful blend of myself and their dad. I want them to know how to care for their hair, as it is different than what I would do, or my white husband would do. I don’t think that talking about differences makes me children feel bad about themselves, I think it helps them build a strong sense of self and autonomy. I don’t have emotional responses when people make comments about my children or their ethnicity, but I am a person, and I do think about the ramifications those comments could have on my children as they get older if I don’t have those conversations with them. Your experiences may be different based on a variety of factors (where you live, the diversity in your children’s school/community, etc)
      If you take some time and read other posts, you will see that I give plenty of parenting tips and suggestions for mothers and parents on a variety of other subjects. Thank you for your well wishes. Several of my posts have been published by the Huffington Post, so I do think that some people find value in my suggestions.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s