Ten Do's and Don'ts to

Ten Do’s and Don’ts to Raising Healthy Multiracial/Multiethnic Children:

Children are concrete learners - they learn about themselves and the world through real experiences, not words and lectures. In a society so polarized by race and ethnicity, our children must have lots of direct contact with both sides of their family. The easiest way for this to occur is through experiences with both parents.

When two adults cross the racial divide to have a child, they can never go back. Your child represents an in-your-face challenge to racism and the belief of every racial, ethnic and national group that ingroup marriage is somehow normal and better. (…)

It’s difficult for a child to develop prejudicial beliefs or inaccurate information about one side of their heritage if they have positive contacts with both sides all the time. Its easy to develop prejudices when the child is around people from only one of his/her backgrounds. (…)

When you hold and talk to your infant, talk about her pretty skin, beautiful eyes, and curly hair. Tell her how much she looks like her father and mother. Sing songs about a beautiful, brown, curly headed baby. Read books about multiracial children, families of the world, and all aspects of her heritage. Give her mirrors to see herself; when you talk to others affirm her positive multiracial identity. (…)

Don’t teach children that color does not matter. It does! - in this country, and most countries in the world. And color matters not only in the greater society, but within every single racial and ethnic group (Blacks, Hispanics, Natives Americans and Asians). People’s initial reactions to other people are based on physical characteristics - what that person looks like (skin color, hair color and texture, facial features).

Children respond to people who care about them - regardless of their background. It certainly helps if these adults know about multiracial children and how to support their healthy identity development.

Do not entrust your child to adults who do not respect their need for a full identity. And, do not assume minority adults support multiracial identity; many do not.

I constantly hear from young biracial and multiracial adults who do not feel good about themselves, because their parents did not support their mixed identity. The rest of the world does not ignore it!

Children need classmates, neighbors, playmates, etc, who represent both racial groups (or more). If this does not occur, children develop an unrealistic - and overly romantic - view of the part of their heritage that is missing, and then want to discover ‘being black’, ‘being Native American’, ‘being Hispanic’, etc. The problem is they truly don’t know what it means to be one of these minorities, so they become attracted to the stereotypes of the group - music, behaviors, clothes, language, etc. Do not raise a child in a single-race environment - especially if its white.

Our children are minorities, have direct personal connections with the dominant group, and are something new - what many are calling third culture children.

Ninety five percent of our children’s experiences - good and bad - have nothing to do with race and ethnicity. Our children progress through the same developmental stages, learn the same school-related tasks, and have all the same challenges as single-race children.

They just have one more experience: being multiracial or multiethnic.

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