9 Things I Wish I Could Tell Every Mixed Mom About Raising Biracial Kids
While the thought of two parents from completely different cultural backgrounds raising a child may not sound like a big deal, there are many nuances that are often overlooked. Which is why, as a biracial mother raising multicultural children myself, I wanted to share some of my tips on raising a biracial child.
Many parents assume just loving their child will be enough, yet that is often far from the truth. Struggles with self identity, alienation, and not being sure how to embrace their whole self are just some of the issues mixed race children have to learn to navigate. Not to mention the fetishization that the parents of biracial children will have to wade off.
9 Tips for Raising a Biracial Child
While I am no expert nor do I speak for all mixed race persons, I do believe my own experiences can help shed light on how to raise a biracial child. Being raised by a white mom who didn’t exactly embrace my uniqueness as a mixed child, I am hoping my perspective helps others looking to understand. Even if you are not of dual or multiple heritages yourself, knowing how to approach these experiences may very well be the key to a happier childhood.
1. Explore Both Family Trees at an Early Age
Studies show that children as young as four can understand differences in race and culture. Talking to your child about both sides of their heritage is vital. The traditions, explaining both cultures, and immersing them into what makes them who they are at an early age is key. These conversations will help your biracial child develop their own identity.
2. Talk Openly About Race and Race Relations
Raising biracial kids does not mean teaching them to “not see color.” Sadly color, or race, makes up one part or another of history across the globe. No matter where you live, race has played some role in the traditions and history. Which is why talking openly to your multicultural child is the only way to prepare them for adult life.
Even if you yourself have never been a victim of racism, learn as much as you can. Teach your child as much as you can. Children of multiethical backgrounds have vastly different experiences from others. You will be doing your child a disservice to leave this conversation to a day when “you think they’ll be ready.” Starting young with age appropriate information and expanding as they grow is the best way to counterbalance the way the world may treat them.
3. Help Your Children Embrace Their Identity
Self-identity is the one thing most mixed people struggle with. Being told they aren’t blank enough or don’t really look blank can be confusing and often lead to alienation. Helping your child embrace their identity can help alleviate these feelings.
Research shows that biracial kids who are allowed to embrace all components of their heritage have the best chance of success. Whereas multiracial children forced to choose a single-race identity tend to suffer from a false expression of self.
Raising a child of a different race may seem impossible. Especially when it comes to parts of a culture you know nothing about. When these situations arise, do your best to educate yourself. Be honest and explain to your biracial child that you are both learning together at that moment.
4. Expose Myths About Mixed Kids
One of the challenges of raising a biracial child are the myths. Things like mixed people must identify as mixed or they are sell outs. Biracial persons are raceless and therefore will end racism. Or my personal favorite, multicultural people are some exotic novelty that are meant to be fetishized.
As ridiculous as these may sound, there are actually many more. And unfortunately, there are the misconceptions anyone of mixed-race will have to go up against as they navigate through life. Prepare your children as they grow. Face these myths head on and show them just how silly they actually are.
5. Don’t Gloss Over Hard Topics
There are going to be some rough topics that come about. Conversations you’re going to wish you don’t have to have. Please have them. Do not try to preserve their innocent by glossing over these hard topics. Because if they don’t learn it from you, they will learn it from someone else. And it may not be in a kind manner.
6. Choose a Multicultural School or Community if You Can
Your child’s school and classmates will largely influence the way they perceive their biracial identity. Looking for a school with a diverse set of children enrolled will help them feel more comfortable and welcomed. Being around children from different cultures and races, including biracial children, will have a positive effect on your child.
Additionally try to choose a neighborhood or locality that has other multi-racial families living there. These are going to be the best place to raise a biracial child. It’s not only important for our children to see themselves represented on television and in the books they read, but also in their everyday life.
7. Train Your Kids to Be Confident & Comfortable in Their Skin
Raising a mixed race child means taking time to boost their self confidence as often as possible. There may not be many people who look like them. Or maybe their hair is different from mommy and daddy’s. No matter their differences, teach your child these are what make them unique. And their uniqueness is what makes them special.
8. Inspire a Right View of Labels
As sad as it is, society likes to force labels on all of us. From our personalities to our race. And when we don’t fit into one of those boxes, we are often only left with “other.” Mutliracial children are not going to fit the mold. They will also go against societal norms. Teach them to embrace that.
People will tell them to choose a label based on their father. Or because they look more blank they should claim that. They should never feel the need to conform to any label. They are who they are, no matter what box anyone else tries to put them in.
9. Stand Your Ground
Momma, at the end of the day, this is your child. You know what is best, you know your child best. Do what works best for you and your home. Educate yourself, ask questions, but make sure to follow your gut.
There are so many ways to raise a multicultural family, and the very fact that you are looking for tips means you’re on the right path.
Raising a biracial child as a mixed mom, I often find myself struggling. Not wanting to leave my children in the dark like I was as a child, I sometimes can go overboard. Finding that line right in the middle has been hard for me. But I found solace knowing I am doing my best.
Never forget that part. When things get hard, when it seems you’ve forgotten something. Or maybe you didn’t prepare your biracial child for a certain situation, know you are doing your best.
Are You Raising a Biracial Child?
Although raising a biracial child comes with a unique set of challenges. These hurdles can be lessened by celebrating and accepting the cultural diversity of your child. Make sure to maintain an open line of communication and be understanding of any racial struggles they may face. Embrace their uniqueness and teach them to do the same.
One of the biggest things I wish my mother would have done was take the time to understand the world I was growing up in. And taking the time to not only listen but actively understand the struggles I was facing. If you do nothing else as a parent to a mixed race child, be their safe space.