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Multicultural Babies: How Parents Can Integrate Their Heritage For A Thriving Child.

Multicultural Babies: How Parents Can Integrate Their Heritage For A Thriving Child.

Multicultural Babies: How Parents Can Integrate Their Heritage For A Thriving Child.

Multicultural Babies: How Parents Can Integrate Their Heritage For A Thriving Child.

For parents of a multiracial child, the experience can be both enlightening and perplexing. All cultures have strong beliefs, cherished traditions and deep roots in their communities. Raising a child who is a combination of those two cultures – yet distinctly a person of her own – has many unique challenges. But like all the challenges that face new parents, raising a multicultural child can be a beautiful and life-changing experience.

Emphasize the common ground between your cultures: A great place to start is by asking what values you and your partner’s culture have in common? Which traditions are shared, what aspects of faith and family are universal? These can be the primary building blocks for your child’s new foundation of multiculturalism. Like our community itself, we are made stronger by the things that we have in common and not the differences that separate us. It is also important that both parents support each other’s different culture. Let your child know that there is no right or wrong choice when she embraces a specific aspect of your partner’s culture.

Allow your child to choose her “label.” Many experts agree that as much as we don’t like the term “label”  it is important to allow your child to talk about things like skin color, facial features and other characteristics they see that are different than other people around them. Often times, these talks can occur as early as three years old. Listen to your child and be honest about the meaning of these differences, or the lack of meaning as the case may be. Then, allow your child to develop her own label, her own definition, of what she is. Parents have a way of placing labels such as ‘African American’, ‘Hispanic’ or ‘Asian’, on their kids, but multiracial children should be allowed seek their own identity and create their own term to describe themselves.

Try to ensure that both partners spend as equal an amount of time as possible with the child. A child of any race or background absorbs her parents’ behavior, attitudes and habits like a sponge. There is no better way to have your child learn about your heritage than through your example. Speak to her in your language, make authentic meals, talk about your family and the traditions they embrace. But make sure you and your partner are spending this time equally if you want your child to receive the best of both worlds. Otherwise, you may find you child modeling herself more closely to the primary caregiving parent.

Seek out an environment of diversity. Whether it be at school, at church or in your neighborhood, it is critical that multiracial children are afforded opportunities to interact with kids of many different backgrounds. Let your child know – let her see for herself – that there are other people like her. Again, this will help emphasize to your child that no two people are the same, and that the difference in their diversity is what makes her special.  

Remember, what may be considered the hardest part of this adventure is already behind you: getting past the racial or cultural stereotypes you had to endure when you entered into a relationship with your partner. Draw on that experience. Use what you learned. Understand that the world is becoming more diverse and multiracial every day. And like all other aspects of this great parenting adventure, don’t stress the moments…enjoy them.

 

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