Written by Rorri Geller-Mohamed, LCSW
September 14, 2019
5 steps to help you raise your child with a strong sense of self and identityOne of the most common questions that I get as a therapist from parents of multiracial families is how do I raise my child with pride for their cultures. The interesting thing about this question is that it’s not only parents of multiracial families that have this question although many of us experience it in a very unique way. Let’s unpack the steps that are needed to raise your child with pride from their culture:
Step 1: Identify what are the cultures that are part of your child’s life.You need to know what are the many cultures that your child will be raised in. This will include your cultures as parents, no matter if your child is adopted, biological, or part of a blended family. What is your culture? What is your partner’s culture? It can be as many or as few as you identify with. For example, I’m Jewish American and my husband is Guyanese and Muslim. Our children will be raised in both of these cultures. They will also form their own identity of what it means to have multiple cultures. If your child is adopted, you will also want to prioritize their culture of origin in your family. In my situation, my brother is adopted and his Mexican culture was also part of my upbringing as well as will be for my children. In a blended family, you want to also identify what are the additional cultures that your child will be raised in now that the family is blended. You want to be able to name the many cultural identities that you want to bring pride to your children.
Step 2: Be cognizant of how your child may be perceived related to the culture. This is where it’s important for you to know how people will see your child related to race and ethnicity. Often their may be a dissonance between some of the cultures they relate to and the way others may perceive their being part of that culture. Having this awareness allows you to have open conversations that can help to build their pride and make sense of confusion. For example, growing up when my family would attend a Jewish synagogue that was an entirely white community what is the experience that my brother who is brown would have attending with our white family. Similarly what conversations would be necessary to have with my sister and I who are white when attending with our brother who is brown. An awareness is necessary of what that experience would mean for him as well as being able to challenge any racism in that space. This awareness helps us to advocate to create inclusive spaces which support feelings of pride in culture and community.
We worry about saying the wrong thing which often keeps us silent, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to some white moms about issues of race and racism. Here’s what I took away from these conversations…
In family therapy, we are often working on how to resolve conflict, strengthen family relationships, and improve communication
It can be frustrating and hard when white people just don’t get it. How often this season have you heard white people in your life say you were being too “sensitive” or take things too “seriously” for?