I was a biracial child and I am also the parent of two multiracial children. As someone who is biracial and have faced ignorance, unwanted questioning, curious stares, and even racism, I would be the first to tell you that it is no walk in the park to be mixed race. Despite the media telling us how beautiful and smart mixed race children are, what the media doesn’t tell us is that there are more struggles and turmoil lying beneath the surface. Therefore, there are certain things that every parent should remember when raising multiracial children in order to raise them to be honest, tolerant, accepting, and positive members of society.
Love them for who they are
The most important thing that every parent who has multiracial children should remember is that they should always love them for who they are. They should love their children for who they are inside, and not just because they are their children, or being mixed race. The fact that they are mixed race is probably the least important factor about them. The most important factors include loving them for wearing polka dot pants and a striped shirt, eating only broccoli for dinner, screaming at the top of their lungs in the car, or playing outside for so long that they get covered in dirt. You know, the little, everyday things. Parents should their multiracial children for who they are, and not what society may perceive them as. By doing this, we are teaching the next generation that race and the color of the skin are ultimately of no significance.
Teach them to not let color be a barrier
While parents should absolutely love their children for who they are, not focusing on their race, they should also teach their children to not let the color of their skin be a barrier. Even if we teach our multiracial children that the color of the skin is unimportant, society still plays a huge focus on it. Society is still adamant at categorizing people by race. Because of that, the outside world still perceives people to be of a certain race, and then makes assumptions based on those perceptions. Sometimes those assumptions can create a divide of sorts, putting unwanted pressure on the child to do certain things, or refraining them from doing things. Parents should teach their multiracial children to not let their race or color of their skin dictate who they may or may not become. Multiracial children should be allowed to be whatever they want to be, whatever is in their heart’s desire. They should not be told to do sports or take advanced math classes because it is in their blood, but because they genuinely love it.
Teach them to see beyond the color of the skin to the person within
While parents should love their children for who they are within, they should also be taught to see beyond the color of the skin to the person within. They should be taught to not categized or make assumptions about other people based on appearance. They should be taught to always look closely at what is on the inside. This is a lesson that I have had to learn the hard way. Growing up, I always had people judge me based on exterior appearances, instead of getting to know me on the inside. Plus, it doesn’t feel good to simply dismiss someone as just being Asian or black or white or Latino/a. What is on the outside is the least important. We must dare to look beyond what is on the surface in order to get to know people, and ultimately, ourselves even better.
Be open about racial struggles
No matter how old the multiracial children are, parents should always be open about racial struggles. Parents’ natural instinct is to protect their children. It might seem to be more protective to protect children from any racism or race issues that arise in society. But another way to protect them is by equipping them with knowledge. When children come to know what kind of treatment to be expected from the wider society, then parents and children can create conversation. Together, the next generation can work at trying to eliminate these racial struggles and issues once and for all.
Don’t label your children
And finally, I think that parents should not tell their children what to identify as. I am of the belief that it is up to the individual what they choose to identify as. Whether that is black, latino/a, Asian American, hapa, multiracial, or simply human being, it is up to them. No person has the right to tell another person what they are. No person has the right to tell another human being which race they should identify as. For multiracial children, this journey of self-identification may be harder than that of children who are not mixed race simply because it is more complicated for them. But with the right guidance and love, these children can ultimately identify as the thing that they most feel suits them, and not because of what society may tell them to identify as based on the color of the skin.
When raising multiracial children, the most important thing is to simply love them for who they are, while also teaching them about the ways of the world. Multiracial children are no different from monoracial children. They all want and need the same things. The only difference is what society has made it so. Because society insists on categorizing and differentiating people based on skin color and race, parents must teach them to act in a way that society can accept while also meeting the need of the child. And that can only happen when the children are ultimately happy in their skin, without fear of racism and ostracism from the wider society.
What would you add to this list?