*I was provided with a set of the MVP Kids books, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own. *
Mothers of biracial children often struggle with how and when to breach the topic of race and skin color.
Everyone else seems to notice the differences between you and your child and you dread the day that your child asks why they look different from you.
When my oldest was a baby, I took to Facebook to rant about an encounter with a black male at the check out line in TJMaxx. He asked repeatedly if she was mine, then finally said, ” his daddy must be really light-skinned.”
At the time I was so shocked that I showed him a baby picture I had of myself that closely resembled my daughter. Later when I thought back on the incident, I was angry with myself for feeling the need to explain anything to him. I wished I had ignored him or given him a piece of my mind. After that day, I told myself that I would never be in that kind of situation again.
I wished I would have had some rehearsed responses and I would know what to do or say if it happened again–and I knew I wanted to prepare my children in the event it happened to them.
Here’s how I plan to tackle coversations with my kids about race:
Kill the Curiosity About Your Multiracial Child
My daughters are seven and four, and thankfully I haven’t had anyone ask them what they are, but I live in South Georgia, so I know it’s coming. I can see the surprised look on teacher’s faces when they meet our entire family for the first time–they aren’t always good at hididng their shock (or displeasure).
Since my kids are young, we don’t have open forum conversation about race (yet). We keep things age appropriate and talk about how our differences make us unique. The girls love the point out the things that they have with me versus the things in common with my husband.
Representation Through Media
One of the ways we encourage healthy self concept is through books like the MVP Kids series. What I love about these books is that The sixteen MVP Kids, along with their parents, siblings and other family members, make up twelve families.
Not only do kids see themselves in the MVP Kids series, but they also learn about character values, responsibility and language. Each book offers a section of helpful teaching tips for parents at the back of each book.
Sometimes the greatest lessons can be learned through conversations that you have with your children while reading a book with diverse characters.
Thankfully authors are beginning to understand the need for children to see themselves represented everywhere (TV, magazines, books, etc). When your children see others who look like them, having these coversations get a little easier.
In the south, people often think that “mixed” means black and white, when in actuality, being of mixed race could be a combination of any races.
Representation In The Community
Not only is it important for your multiracial child to see themselves represented in print media, but also their families. I love to attend multicultural events where there are not only a variety of races and family dynamics present, but also cultures.
As a child raised in a Jamaican (military) family, I loved that our neighbors were also from different countries. We learned alot from each other and often shared new things about our cultures. I want to afford my children the same opportunities.
Discussing race with your child doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems. Keep conversations age appropriate and use books, community events and everyday happenings to begin the important conversations about race with your young child.
Remember, if you don’t take the time to discuss it, someone else will. Help your child to take center stage and own their identity.