If you and your partner are of differing races, your children will be termed, biracial children. While you might be thinking about what difference it makes, it is shown that biracial children experience unique challenges, like discrimination, regarding racial self-identification. However, with your assistance and some helpful tips to raise a biracial child, your child will grow into a confident individual in society. Having a biracial identity means that your child will have a unique cultural inheritance, but they may also experience issues like racism and identity crisis. Continue reading this post as we present some suggestions on parenting biracial children.
Eight Tips On Raising A Biracial Child
Love knows no language, and certainly no race or skin color! If you have experienced that strong bond of love with your partner that brought you both together in the first place, you know it is something you want to pass on to your child too.
With more and more global exposure these days, it is not uncommon to see biracial parents raising a child who is aware of both the cultures. In some cases though, the parents are not sure how to help their child accept their mixed identity in a positive way. Often, a biracial child may end up getting influenced by the cultural aspects of the parent who spends the most time with them. The child may also get influenced by the parent who is more assertive or interested in sharing cultural knowledge and experiences.
Here are some effective tips for raising biracial children the perfect way:
1. Let your child talk about skin color
As a biracial child, it is obvious that your child will notice the difference in the color of skin.
- For your child, asking questions related to the color of skin is quite normal. You may feel it is not something to be discussed in the open, especially not in front of family or strangers. You may have a certain skin color, your partner may have another skin color, and your child may have a different skin color altogether. In such a scenario, your child is likely to get confused and ask why there is a difference in the colors of the skin when you all are members of the same family.
- Do not take offense at your child’s curiosity. Instead of asking your child to not talk about it, make sure you address the question in a very normal way. Remember that your child does not understand the concept of color, so answer as best as you can, keeping their age in mind. Unless parents normalize these questions, children can never become comfortable or confident in their own skin.
- Remember that it is never too late to do the ‘race’ talk with your child. Your child will start noticing different traits even when he is just three years of age, and something as basic as skin color is often the first difference he may note. Let your child inquire about it or bring up the topic yourself. Make sure you do it in such a way that it does not seem a very serious issue. Your child should not feel that talking about race, skin color or facial features is a taboo. Instead, make sure you make it sound as normal as possible.
2. Teach your child to accept their mixed features
Most biracial children inherit some features from one parent and the rest from the other, which means they have a mix of both.
- While it is not something that is not natural, it may intrigue strangers who may ask your child about their ethnicity.
- Your child may have a different kind of hair texture or style, or a certain shape of eyes, or a different skin color or a differently shaped mouth. Help your child to know the fact that all these features are good for them because it brings together the goodness of two unique cultures.
- In many instances, some people may completely disbelieve your child’s mixed racial identity. For instance, a dark skinned parent may have a child who is white, or a white parent may have a biological child who is dark skinned. Teach your child that it is possible for others to get confused, especially if they are only meeting them for the first time. Prepare your child to be strong and normal about facing such situations and not becoming upset or angry.
3. Allow your child to choose their cultural identity
It is perfectly normal for your child to one day show an interest in your culture and the next day wanting to identify themself with your partner’s culture.
- Let your child explore and see the different cultural aspects firsthand.
- The best thing to teach your child is to be themself, to do what makes them feel most comfortable and happy.
- Do not make your child’s cultural preference an ego tussle between you and your partner. If your child wants to know more about your culture, talk about it and share your experiences with them. If your child wants to be more participative in your partner’s culture, make sure he is around to help.
4. Help your child become confident and happy with their biracial identity
Your child may need more moral support to boost their confidence than other children, especially while dealing with biracial issues.
- Often strangers can be curious about your child’s mixed looks and end up asking questions that seem rude or incorrect. While you may deal with the same in a grown-up and more mature way, it could make your child awkward and confused.
- Tell your child that not all children are biracial, and that is why people can sometimes ask the questions that they do. Help your child to understand what the word biracial means and why it is such a special gift to have the richness of not one but two cultures.
- Your child may look completely different from either you or your partner, which is another normal aspect of being a biracial child. Tell your child that it is nothing to be embarrassed. Also, when someone expresses shock at your child’s revelation about what culture or racial background you and your partner are from, tell your child to not be offended. Your child should be proud of his biracial lineage and not try to hide the fact from others.
5. Help your child relate with other children from mixed races
Of course, there are many people who believe that children from mixed races grow up being confused and disoriented. Make it a point to break such myths, especially in front of your child.
- Give your child examples of people who had mixed racial origin and who went on to become successful and famous. Some personalities you can name include Halle Berry, Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, and Keanu Reeves.
- Teach your child that children who have a biracial lineage are not less confident or socially accepted. You should also tell your child that having a biracial parentage does not mean that your child is different. It only means that your child has more than one cultural heritage as opposed to children of the same race. Make sure you teach your child that both situations are normal and not a cause for worry.
- Watch movies with your child, which celebrate families that are multi-racial and have biracial children as characters or actors. You can also get your child books on biracial children and why it is fun to have the best of two cultures instead of just one.
6. Choose a school with students from diverse ethnic backgrounds
Your child’s school and schoolmates will largely influence the way he perceives his biracial identity.
- When you enroll your child in a school with children from mixed backgrounds, it will help your child feel more comfortable and welcome. Being around children from different cultures and races, including biracial children, will have a positive effect on your child.
- Make sure you speak to the management and the teachers about racial tolerance in the school before sending your child there. Some schools have very strict policies about racism and bullying. Discuss the same with your child at home.
- You can also help to prepare your child to handle some remarks he may hear from other students in the initial days at school. Most biracial children have mixed features, and it is not always possible for others, especially young children, to understand the varied traits of other ethnic races. Other children at school, and sometimes even teachers or other staff members, may ask your child about their racial identity or their place of origin.
- Prepare your child for such questions. Tell your child that it is normal for someone to ask such a thing, out of curiosity to know more about their culture. Tell your child that it is nothing to be offended. Instead, your child can use such a situation as an ice-breaker.
7. Choose a locality that is multi-racial
Do choose a neighborhood or locality that has other multi-racial families living there.
- Once your child sees other biracial children on a daily basis, he will accept their mixed identity better than before.
- Even while you live in a multi-racial community, it is possible for your child to face racism at other places. The key is to make your child aware that there are many other children out there who are also biracial and that there is nothing different or strange about it.
- If your child is still young or at an impressionable age, living in a multiracial community or neighborhood will mean that no one stares at your child or makes him feel out-of-place. It will give your child enough time to get comfortable with the idea of having a biracial identity.
8. Teach your child to speak up against racism
Your child may be too young to understand it yet, but it is important to teach your child nonetheless when to protest and stop answering those intrusive questions.
- You can teach your child all about anti-racism.
- One of the best ways to teach your child when to say no to someone who may be asking them questions about their looks, ethnicity, or race is when it starts making them feel uncomfortable.
- If your child is a little older and can understand prejudice, teach them to always speak up against what is wrong. Your child should not allow anyone to make any rude or uncalled for comments about race, ethnicity or cultural background, even in a fun or casual manner. What starts as a simple, fun comment can often turn into a full-blown racist attack, and it is always important to stop such conversation the moment it begins.
- Assure your child that you and your partner will fully support him to fight racism. Also, try and find a counselor at school who can help your child overcome the trauma of facing a racist remark or incident.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are biracial children less healthy?
No conclusive evidence indicates that biracial children are less healthy than monoracial children. Children stay healthy when provided good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, irrespective of their racial background.
2. Can my biracial child have blue eyes?
The eye color of a child is determined based on several factors. A child can have a probability of having blue eyes if either one or both the parents have blue eyes (1).
Raising a biracial child may come with a unique set of challenges and other hurdles. Hence, we hope that our tips for raising a biracial child will be helpful. These tips focus on celebrating and accepting the cultural diversity of your child. Remember to maintain proper communication with your child to understand any racial struggles. Make the various aspects clear as they grow older and teach them never to be embarrassed about being biracial. Although implementing these tips may seem an extensive task, staying practical would be helpful.
- Is eye color determined by genetics?