As a single parent raising biracial or multiracial children, you’re faced with a unique challenge. How do you support mixed race identity? In many cases the kids will primarily stay with one parent. I think it is so important for mixed race children to feel a sense of pride in all aspects of who they are. That can be really tough if you have a contentious relationship with your ex. You may not want to be reminded of them or celebrate anything related to their culture.
For the sake of your children, you have to take your ex out of it. You want your children to grow up with a solid sense of their entire identity. They will appreciate the effort you made in celebrating all of who they are because you want the best for them.
Being supportive can also be challenging if you don’t know how to incorporate your children’s other heritage into your home because it’s not how you were raised. I am a white mom raising my daughter and son who are half black. They do see their father and his family but not nearly as consistently as they see me and my family.
This presents the challenge of figuring out how to support their black culture. I want my children to be proud of their black heritage and it is up to me to make sure our home is filled with emotional support and physical things that will promote a positive identity.
Here are some things you can do to support your child’s mixed race identity
Have books and toys that have main characters who are of your child’s race
Before I became a mom to biracial children, I never thought much about how characters you could identify with in books or with toys, would be important to your self worth. Clearly that’s because I’m white and have never had to think about that. I don’t want my children to look at a doll or book and wonder why there are none that look like them.
There are obviously no shortage of books or toys that have white characters so I need to make sure they also have biracial or black children as the main character so they can see images of themselves. I don’t ever want them to think they can’t accomplish something because they didn’t see examples of people who look like them succeeding.
Have physical reminders around the house
My children are half African American and Ghanaian so I have African artwork displayed throughout the house. I also have pictures of their dad’s family and we will look through them and talk about who they are. I know that isn’t possible for everyone but if you can I think it is a great way for your kids to connect to their other family.
Having that connection to their other roots can help them feel pride and give them knowledge about who they are. This is so important for their positive mixed race identity.
Playing tv shows or movies that feature characters of your child’s race/races
When I was growing up there was no shortage of white Disney princesses so I could always identify with the characters from my favorite movies. Once I became a mom I sought out movies and tv shows that had characters of other races. Of course my daughter inherited my love for Disney movies so I’m super excited that they’ve been expanding their diversity!
Some of her favorite princesses are of other races (like Moana, Mulan, and Tiana). I love that she can watch her favorite movies and the lead princess isn’t always White.
Some other T.V. shows that feature main characters who aren’t white are Elena of Avalor, Handy Manny, and Doc McStuffins. (Can you tell we really love Disney in this house??)
Be aware of what you say
By this I mean watch what you say about other races, especially your children’s other race. For example, you don’t want them to hear you talking negatively about your ex, (how they act, talk, or physical attributes) because your kids can internalize it and think negatively about that side of themselves.
You want to be careful to avoid certain words that will make them think that a quality they have is bad. My kids have beautiful curly hair that takes a long time to wash and comb out. I used to get upset when my daughter would roll around on the floor because I didn’t want her hair to get tangled and frizzy, which essentially would undo all the hard work I just did.
But then I noticed when her hair was not freshly combed out, she would get upset and start saying her hair was frizzy so I realized she was getting that frizzy was a negative word from me. I have since tried to really watch what I say when I’m trying to redirect her from rolling around on her hair.
Another example is avoiding saying your child’s hair is nappy, too hard to manage, or you wished they had “good hair”. All of those phrases have a negative connotation and it will start to chip away at your child’s self worth.
Even making jokes with someone else about things like skin color, noses, lips, or hair, your kids could end up hearing it and internalizing it.
This is so important you guys. Imagine if you grew up in a house and you had no toys or literature that featured someone of your race? You might grow up feeling like because you look different that you can’t do the same things the characters in the books, tv shows, or movies can do.
Or imagine if you grew up hearing your parents say words that had negative connotations about the characteristics that you had? It would definitely affect your self esteem.
If you’re reading this, I know you care just as much as I do and want to support your children’s mixed race identity the best way you can. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to do that because of your relationship with your ex or you simply don’t know how because you weren’t raised in that culture.
Including books, toys, and movies that have characters of your children’s race or races, having physical reminders around the house, and avoiding negative words regarding their other heritage, will help make your children feel supported. Your home should be a place that celebrates your children’s mixed race background.
What other ways do you help support and celebrate your children’s other races? I’m always looking for new ideas so leave a comment below!!
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