Recently, I’ve been talking to a lot of adults who grew up in multiracial families to get insight and advice as I develop a new program to support parents raising kids in multiracial families. As we talk about identity development and what was missing and what was needed, there is one thing that seems to be clear. We need to be ready to help our kids deal with identity issues.
I wanted to share this quote (with permission of course) from a woman that identifies as mixed because she beautifully shares both her struggles as well as her hopes.
“I am 41 and mixed. I’m both Hispanic and white. I’ve often felt lost. Just today, I was driving a rental car in a strange city and turned on the Spanish station because I enjoy Latin music, though I grew up in a lily white suburb of Chicago and only learned Spanish as an adult. I felt fraudulent, felt sad that I felt like a “poser,” though I “look the part” of someone who would listen to Spanish radio. It’s complicated. My hope is for the next generation of mixed kids to have a lot more confidence and sense of identity!” -Anonymous
Her experience provides us with so much information about the experience of children growing up in multiracial families and the work we have to do as parents. We have to really prioritize how we are helping our kids develop that confidence and sense of identity that she so strongly desired and felt was missing.
Here are some thoughts for us to consider:
Open communication about identity and belonging. Sometimes we may think we provide opportunities for open communication but in reality, our children don’t feel that way. It’s important to have a strong awareness of your communication style as well as your strengths and weaknesses in communication. As a therapist, communication is a topic that comes up often when working with couples and families. The way people communicate often has a big impact on relationships. Often our communication style is related to our upbringing and the communication we experienced growing up.
Deep understanding about our own identity. In order for us to help our children feel confident in their identity we need to understand and be comfortable in ours. For white parents that I have worked with sometimes when we start having these conversations, feelings around guilt and shame come up. It’s important to process these feelings and work through them in a safe space to be able to fully support your child and their needs.
Identify what your child needs to feel a sense of belonging in spaces and communities. This may include being around other children that are from multiracial families and/or spending time together in all of the communities that make up their identity. Geographic location can sometimes make this a challenge. In those case, it’s important to brainstorm alternatives and hear from other families how they made it work.
She also asked to be anonymous because she would never want to hurt her parents in any way. This speaks volumes to the love and respect she has for her parents. I think this is a reminder of how important it is for us to really be aware of our children’s developmental needs as they are growing up.
Her voice is one perspective but it is definitely a common theme that I have heard when talking with other multiracial adults. We are fortunate that our children are growing up in a generation where multiracial families and discussions around identity are increasingly common. Let’s take advantage of it and help make her hope “for the next generation of mixed kids to have a lot more confidence and sense of identity” come true!
Here are a few ways U Power Change can help support your multiracial family:
- If you are raising children in multiracial family and would love to hear more about how you can support their development, please join me for my online workshop in 2 weeks: Multiracial Parenting With Confidence And Courage: Everyday Strategies To Support Your Child’s Identity Development and Navigate Challenges
- Join our Multiracial Parenting Network. Connect with other parents and myself as we share joys, struggles, and resources in this safe space.
- I’m creating a program for parents raising children in multiracial families. I’m looking to schedule a few short conversations with parents to hear your insight and thoughts of what would be most helpful and beneficial information, support, resources, and anything else to include. As a thank you for your insight, I will answer any questions you have related to relationship issues, family issues, therapy, and/or anything else you would like my expertise in. If you are interested in participating, reply to this email with the words SHORT CONVERSATIONS and we’ll schedule a call.