Raising Mixed Kids to Face the World
by Patrice Farmer
SELF-ESTEEM- As a child, I remembered what it was like not to understand who or what I was. It came out of the protection my mother tried to give, in not explaining my (multiracial-ness) or my bi-racial brother, and my mostly monoracial sister, who we were. There was a time, in Elementary school, when everyone asked me if my father was an Arab, (I was light skinned, long blondished brown hair, and hazel eyes). I had no ideal so I stated yes. My brother, who was beaten up and called Chico as a child, told my mother and she chastised me, never explaining exactly what my father was or even what she was. In those days, it wasn't fashionable to explain or understand Mixed-ness, despite the fact that my entire family from the 1700's was a multiracial family. My uncles, all except one (although he married a mixed woman) all had children with white women. My cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great, and great-great were all mixed. If they were not, they did!
When I grew up, I gave birth to a blond haired, blue eyed, white skinned child from an Irish American. It completely changed my life! I went from the child that had a door slammed in her face, because the kids thought she was white, to a light brown skinned mother of a white multi/bi-racial child. As a single mother, it has been even tougher on me than if her father had been in her life. One statement I have constantly heard since the birth of my daughter, from family and others is, "She's going to grow up confused." Confused? I don't see myself as confused. I know my mixtures and am very vocal about, despite the growing number of anti-white/anti-mixed sentiments I encounter on a nearly daily basis. I still have a very high self-esteem level.
It seems more healthy (self-esteem wise) for a child to understand all of whom they are, instead of choosing to acknowledge one race over the other. Too many mixed children have low self-esteem due to the pressure from racial groups in trying to force the child to pick one race without acknowledging the other. What can a parent of multiracial children do to instill pride into their children? I believe that the keys to this are ten simple steps to instilling pride and self-esteem in a Multiracial Child:
Tips For Raising Mixed Kids
1) From birth, understand that no matter what color of skin the child is, they are a mixture of races that should all be acknowledged.
2) Introduce the child to various foods/music/books of their cultures.
3) Discuss their identity with them early. (It's better for a parent to explain what they are, than for a child or adult to point it out in a devastating fashion.)
4) Sit down with a child, and cut out pictures of various peoples and write a story or book about how they feel.
5) Expose the child to others that look similar to themselves.
6) Condemn other parents, teachers, schools,etc. that try to label your child. Let you and your child label themselves.
7) Teach self-esteem. Teach your child to be proud of who they are, what they look like, the hair they have, the color of eyes they've been given.
8) Raise them in a non-jealous environment. Teach them that someone with characteristics they wish they could acquire, should be admired and not desired. They were given what was meant to be theirs-(Hair texture, Eye color, Skin & Color, etc.) They should think of other people as being unique, just as they are.
9) Introduce your child to aspects of their culture. Take them to an Irish Dance, a Gospel Revival, etc. This will make them well-rounded and feeling apart of their cultures.
10) Include as much family as possible. Even if not all family members are apart of your child's life, find someone who will be. Ex: Single white mother of half black child. Find a African American person to be apart of that child's life, and vice versa.
In involving your families/friends, your child will have a greater understanding of who they are and have a healthy level of self-esteem!
Patrice Farmer is moderator of Mixed Families at Onelist.com
Also by Patrice Farmer
Copyright © 1999 Patrice Farmer and The Multiracial Activist. All rights reserved.