When you’re in an interracial family or in an interracial marriage you have a lot of challenges from all sides. As a couple, as parents, and growing up as a mixed- race child, you may also have had to struggle to find positive role models to look up to.
There’s a lot of negative publicity out there when it comes to race; stereotypes on all sides of the racial conversation. People form opinions and then feel compelled to defend them in the strangest situations. A couple I see in my office told me they were sitting at a table in a restaurant one afternoon. He’s African American and she’s white. They had their two small children with them just enjoying a hamburger when the waitress of all people came back to the table after serving their food and told them not to come back to “her” restaurant, that they weren’t welcome there. They were all stunned. Imagine that difficult conversation that those parents had to have with their small kids trying to explain to them why they were treated that way!
The media is full of racial stereotypes of young black men and women that parents don’t want their kids to emulate. When your child is of mixed race, where do they look for those role models of they’re not out there for public consumption?
The answer is you. Your family, your parents your friends and the elders that raised you are the example kids will see. Parents are the positive role models that children need to grow up to have a healthy sense of their identity and place in the world. It’s easy for them to be confused by what’s out there in the world regarding their racial heritage and you are the best resource and teacher to help them navigate the sometimes treacherous seas of growing up as a mixed race child in America.
It’s your job to show them how to cope with negativity and to teach them that racial bias is a concept that many people are raised with, but they are the ones that are going to do away with it; one person, one encounter at a time.
When you raise your children to have a strong sense of self and a strong identity as a part of your family and as a bridge between two cultures and races, they are less likely to be harmed emotionally by the negativity they may encounter as they grow up and leave the protection of the family. Your home and family should always be the safe place where they can express themselves and be loved and valued for who they are. This gives children confidence to go out and face the challenges that lie out there in the world beyond home.
Be the change. You and your partner are giving the best of yourselves to your children. You are giving them a great gift of love and connection that will serve them well in the future. You and your partner have no doubt had to cope with some of the negativity regarding your relationship and those narrow minds of people who don’t approve or don’t understand. Teach your children that it’s through a personal connection that these biases are done away with. Share your stories with them to show how you have persevered and made your family a success story. It’s one thing to say you don’t trust black people, but another to look into the eyes of a beautiful mixed race child and say you don’t trust them.
Be proud of who you are and who you love. Be proud of your beautiful children and the change that they will make in the world of the future. Be positive role models for your kids and teach them to be positive role models for other young people as they grow up. They can mentor and help other kids that are dealing with the same issues.
Talk together with your partner about those scenarios that might present themselves and do your best to prepare your young people to respond appropriately, not with anger or violence but with intellect and tolerance. Tolerance goes both ways you know, and you can teach your children to accept that they are different and that they need to be tolerant of other’s differences as well.
Teach your children that there’s only one race; the human race, and that we are all a part of a great and diverse family that reaches around the globe. If they can grow up looking to you as positive role models they can grow up to be well balanced, healthy, loving individuals who are proud of their diverse heritage and culture and be an example of America’s diverse future.y years, and their therapy dog, Ollie.