Written by Rorri Geller-Mohamed, LCSW
July 20, 2019
The struggle is real in many multiracial families who have extended family members who are prejudice, “colorblind”, ignorant, and racist. The frustration and pain that this causes on parents is enormous especially when it’s your parent or in-law aka often your child’s grandparent that acts that way. It not only takes a toll on the individual whose relative it is but can also impact the partner in multiple ways. It can show up as the partner being directly affected and/or the partner having to deal with the second hand effects of their partner being under stress. They might be more irritable, often distracted, and short in conversation. It can add tension to the family that of course can trickle down to the kids even if they aren’t in direct contact with the grandparents.
Parents often describe themselves faced with a difficult decision about whether to cut ties, add boundaries to the relationship, and/or ignore the behavior and suffer with the consequences. These often feel like the only options for parents and are by no means is that an easy decision.
When working with parents, I like to expand the conversation and the way we approach the situation. Of course, the available options are unique to each family and their situation.
Here are some of the responses that I hear from parents when we start this process:
Can people really change?
It’s a hopeless situation, what’s the point of working on it.
I already tried that approach and it didn’t work.
I’m too hurt and emotionally drained.
Are you feeling challenged as a parent of a multiracial family?
Schedule a parenting support call to discuss how we can help. On the call, we will talk about what’s coming for you, what you are stuck on, and what’s going on for you and your family. We will also explore your hopes and desires for your family and talk about what could be helpful to improve the challenge and get you unstuck.
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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?