Raising Mixed Children to Be Well Adjusted

Family relaxing on a sofa – Roy Mehta/Taxi/Getty Images
 
Reject Myths About Mixed-Race Kids

Want to raise mixed-race children who thrive? Your attitude can make all the difference. Challenge the idea that multiethnic children are destined for tragedy by identifying successful Americans of mixed race such as actors Keanu Reeves and Halle Berry, news anchors Ann Curry and Soledad O’Brien, athletes Derek Jeter and Tiger Woods, and politicians Bill Richardson and Barack Obama.

It’s also helpful to consult studies that debunk the tragic mulatto myth. For example, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry posits that “multiracial children do not differ from other children in self-esteem, comfort with themselves, or number of psychiatric problems.” On the contrary, AACAP has found that mixed children tend to celebrate diversity and appreciate an upbringing in which various cultures played a part.

Celebrate Your Child’s Multiethnic Heritage

Which biracial kids have the best chance of success? Research indicates that they’re the kids allowed to embrace all components of their heritage. Multiracial children forced to choose a single-race identity tend to suffer from this inauthentic expression of self. Unfortunately, society often pressures mixed-race individuals to choose just one race because of the outdated “one-drop rule” which mandated that Americans with any African heritage be classified as black. It wasn’t until 2000 that the U.S. Census Bureau allowed citizens to identify as more than one race. That year the Census found that about 4% of children in the U.S. are multiracial.

How mixed children racially identify depends on a number of factors, including physical features and family attachments. Two multiethnic siblings who look as if they belong to different races may not identify the same way. Parents, however, can teach children that racial identity is more complicated than what someone looks like on the outside.

In addition to physical appearance, mixed children may choose a racial identity based on which parent they spend time with most. This especially proves true when interracial couples separate, causing their children to see one parent more than the other. Spouses who take an interest in their mate’s cultural backgrounds will be more equipped to teach children about all aspects of their heritage should divorce occur. Familiarize yourself with the customs, religions and languages that play roles in your mate’s background. On the other hand, if you’re alienated from your own cultural heritage but want your children to recognize it, visit older family members, museums and your country of origin (if applicable) to learn more. This will enable you to pass traditions on to your kids.

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