One of the most common concerns that I hear as a therapist from parents of multiracial families is how do I raise my child with pride for their culture. 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.
Step 3: Be knowledgeable on all of the cultures of your child.
Be aware of what you know and what you need to learn. In families formed through adoptions, you need to make sure you are educated around the culture of origin of your child. In families where partners come from different cultures, education will also likely be helpful to become familiar with your partner’s culture. It’s helpful for children to see that unity in a family.
Step 4: Identify who in your life is familiar with the cultures that you are less familiar with.
How often do you spend time with extended family that can teach about their culture? Do you participate in activities with friends from that culture? Who else in your life can share that culture with your family? This sometimes means that we have to expand our circle or have specific conversations with family.
Step 5: Evaluate how are your child’s cultures represented in school, your faith based institution (if you are connected to one), after-school activities, etc. How are those topics discussed in those spaces? Can your child share their pride for their cultures comfortably in those spaces? Are multicultural identities celebrated in those spaces? You want to have a really clear idea of what is needed for your child to show up as their full self in those spaces. Can they do that now or would they benefit from changes being made?
Often your child’s knowledge about their culture is only one aspect that can help them build their pride. The other aspect is them being able to show up and fully be themselves where ever they are. This often means that as parents we have to advocate for changes in spaces. Let’s step up together as parents of multiracial families and create a community and environment where our children can thrive and shine.
If you are ready to learn more about how to effectively advocate for changes in your child’s school and other community spaces or are looking for more ways to help them feel proud of who they are, don’t miss my upcoming online workshop. Register Here!