Advice Needed: White parents, mixed race child... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 04-25-2009, 11:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am seeking advice. My 6 year old daughter is mixed, African American and Franco-American, and has been raised entirely by myself and my husband, her step father. She has a beautiful light brown complexion. I am Franco-American with an extremely pale complexion and he is Irish. Our extended families are entirely white as well. We live in a predominantly white state. Basically she has little to no interaction with anyone who is not white. There is no cultural diversity in our area. We are now pregnant and obviously our newest child will be white. She has been saying that she is hoping the new baby will be “brown like me”. In general she is a very confident little lady. She knows that she is very smart, that she is beautiful, that she is great at TBall, etc. As far as the new baby is concerned and her lack of cultural stimulation, what can I say and do to help her feel confident in herself and her skin color? I feel horrible. She is so aware lately that she is “different” and I have no idea how to keep her from feeling different in a bad way. I have searched for childrens' books referencing white parents with brown children but have only found adoption based books. Can someone with experience with this please respond here or email me with any advice? Thank you in advance! Megan
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#2 of 16 Old 04-25-2009, 11:58 PM
 
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We read "Bear E. Bear" that is about a mixed-race family. It's a toddler book though. Not sure if that is too young for your DD. I also follow the blog of the Buckles Twins and they are mixed race.

I'll be watching this thread with interest because we will be dealing with this issue in a few years.

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#3 of 16 Old 04-26-2009, 12:57 AM
 
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#4 of 16 Old 04-26-2009, 02:19 AM
 
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is the situation such that your husband would be willing and able to adopt her? That helped our mixed race son with a different dad than everyone else to feel like he belonged just like the other kids.

CPST
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#5 of 16 Old 04-26-2009, 02:47 AM
 
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I am raising my son on my own...his dad is Mexican American and I am white. I believe it's important for him to have connections with both sides of himself (ethnically/racially speaking) and to have really diverse and positive role models from both sides. I have stayed involved and active in the Latino ministry at my church, where we have many friends. I have also put him in cultural dance classes, etc. My son has dark hair and eyes and a completely Spanish first and last name. To the external world who doesn't know him, he's a Latino male. I think it's important for him to get a good, whole view and appreciation for who he is.

Have you considered finding some group, children's activity, etc where she can also interact with other folks that share her African-American heritage, where she can have positive role models that speak to that piece of who she is, etc. Even if you live far from a more diverse area, it could be very valuable to have even a once or twice-a-month connection like that.

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#6 of 16 Old 04-26-2009, 03:25 PM
 
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Hey MommyinMaine, I second what JR'sMommy said. Are there any mommy groups in your area for multiracial or black families? You can often find these on meetup.com. It may help if you join a group where other families look like yours and there are kids who look more like your DD. Also, there is a website called dollslikeme.com and they have lots of resources (books, games, dolls, etc) for the multiracial children. Anyway HTH and

PS I love Maine! I keep telling my DH we need to move up there. If I could, I would spend every summer in Bar Harbor

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#7 of 16 Old 04-26-2009, 10:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you to everyone! It's comforting to know there are others in similar situations.

I went out book shopping today, armed with a list:

1. Brown Like Me Noelle Lamperti

2. The Colors of Us Karen Katz

3. You Be Me I’ll Be You Phil Mandelbaum

4. Does Anybody Else Look Like Me? A Parent’s Guide to Raising Multiracial Children Donna Jackson Nakazawa


At the first store I was told that "since there isn't much of that here we don't cater to those crowds."

The second store said they don't "carry those types of books", but that they could order them for me.

We only have the 2 book stores here.

I will drop by the library in the morning and see if they have them. If not I will order them online.

I have searched online for any resources anywhere around here, up to an hour away, and there are no mother's groups or anything even remotely related to our situation. Our area is very white.

For the last few years DH and I have discussed moving away, mostly so that she is subjected to a lot more cultural diversity. She obviously needs it. And the new baby will as well, just from a different perspective.

I am hoping the books will help, even just a little. I have reviewed the sites mentioned above as well, in fact that's where I found a few of the books.

We had decided a while back that he would adopt her, we never completed the process because it didn't seem to be an issue. When he and I married I hyphenated my last name so I would still have the same last name as her. That seemed to be enough. Now that the new baby is on the way and she is getting older it is something that must be done. I regret waiting this long. That is now my priority.

Thank you all again! And please continue to offer advice! It is so appreciated.

Megan
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#8 of 16 Old 04-26-2009, 10:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Let me clarify that ....

There is one mothers group that I found, 45 minutes away, and it is just a general play group.

I searched on meetup.com and found the one same group, under the Parenting & Family section.

Under Cultures & Languages there were four groups: one for "Fluent French Speakers", one for German Conversation, one for Italian Language, and something called "Laws of Attraction" described as discussion of a book by Michael Losier. No idea what that is all about.

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#9 of 16 Old 04-27-2009, 03:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyinmaine View Post
At the first store I was told that "since there isn't much of that here we don't cater to those crowds."

The second store said they don't "carry those types of books", but that they could order them for me.

We only have the 2 book stores here.

I will drop by the library in the morning and see if they have them. If not I will order them online.

I have searched online for any resources anywhere around here, up to an hour away, and there are no mother's groups or anything even remotely related to our situation. Our area is very white.
Oh good grief! I guess no one has noticed all the little brown children running around this state!

If you are anywhere near Midcoast/Rockland pm me. I am biracial and grew up in a small, rural town with a white mom and stepfather. I might know what your daughter is feeling and thinking.

I can't remember having anything especially for biracial children like books or toys. I think a big thing is (simply) for the child to know she is loved and that her parents think she is beautiful and special. So for a start just keep doing whatever you are doing. I think it would be a really good idea for your husband to formally adopt your daughter, and that you have have a party or do something really special to mark the occasion - all of you as a family and just your dh and dd. I would also be prepared to have some special roles for your daughter to occupy once your baby gets here.

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#10 of 16 Old 04-27-2009, 10:13 PM
 
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Hey! I live in Maine and I am African-American, been here 7 years and I am married interracially and raising my biracial kids. I live in the southern part of the state (south of Portland) have you connected with the Yahoo group Rainbow Connections? If its not too far it may be a good resources for you.

My son (also biracial) from my ex spent a lot of time up here in Northern Maine (Lincoln) so I do know the further away you are from Portland raciall diversity is hard to come by. It can also be a lonely place for a child of color.

In choosing to live here and raise my kids I have worked hard to create a community of people of color but its hard even for me because we are not in Portland.

Anyway if you want PM and if you let me know what area you are in, maybe I can get some resources to you. A dear friend of mine who is also Black at one point was doing diversity workshops with schools throughout the state, so I can ask around for you. I also write on diversity in the state, so maybe I can help out.

Shay

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#11 of 16 Old 04-28-2009, 08:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much! I will PM both of you, as soon as I figure out how to. :-)
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#12 of 16 Old 04-28-2009, 11:57 AM
 
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The Internet is a good place to find biracial/mixed race people. I have run across a few sites but don't access them and haven't saved the links. Maybe just do a search.

You can always point out that the president of the United States is biracial/mixed race.

Just wanna send (( hugs )) to you moms in this situation. We are a biracial family but live in an area diversity and our children are very close with both sides of the family so there is a lot of exposure to people who are African-American/black, white, biracial/mixed race, Latin-American, and of other cultures here.
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#13 of 16 Old 04-28-2009, 02:33 PM
 
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Hugs to you Mama! Raising a mixed race child (or any child of color) in an area where there is little to no cultural diversity can be difficult. In addition to highlighting that she can fit in just the same, I would suggest celebrating the beauty of her difference. Make sure she is proud of who she is and how beautiful her skin color and background is. Very few things break my heart more than a child who hates their own skin. It's painful because it can be easily remedied...starts at home with families that celebrate the beauty of the individual.

Would either of these be helpful?

Colors Come From God Just Like Me - Good if you don't mind biblical references
I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World - Might be a good resource for you
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#14 of 16 Old 05-02-2009, 07:21 AM
 
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i just openened a similar topic!

i am also a single mother of a 3 year old daughter and the father is black, living in the usa.

for us, it is the advantage that she is in regular contact to her dad (over the phone) and i have hang up some pictures of him and his family on the wall. i want to make sure that she knows all her family members, even if they dont live with us.

i personally think it is important to either live in an area with biracial communities or to be at least in contact with other biracial kids. i have just finished barack obamas book (...of my father) and he therein pointed out the difficulty to grow up in a white community. he felt kind of lost because he didnt know where to belong to: not to the whites but not fully to the blacks either.

so my suggestions:

-tell her how pretty her brown skin is (and her hair and her full appearance)
-hang up pictures of famous "brown" people (singers, actors etc.)
-try to find books/movies with brown skinned actors in it
-maybe get a brown skinned doll to play with

i have the same worries like you so i do understand you!

but i think it is important to make her special appearance to her advantage! she is cute, or not`? my daughter is super cute and i always tell her that! and she is so cute BECAUSE she looks the way she does. her curly hair, her great skin, her face....everything about her is pretty. and i keep telling her that.

i think for biracial people it is important to find their own identity which is obviously various. but thats great! she got 2 cultures in her blood, that is an advantage!!

Me with the wonder of my life (2/06) * : * : * * * ...surfin' together on the wave of life : ...
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#15 of 16 Old 05-13-2009, 09:59 PM
 
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As a multiracial adult with a mixed child and another one on the way (and they are mixed with different things) it is extremely important to me that they be raised around people who look like them. Ultimately I would like to move back to New York City because of the incredible diversity there.

I grew up around people of all cultures, but my mother (who is black) identified more with white people and I had very poor self esteem because I knew NO ONE who was actually biracial and had hair like mine, etc. It was always a "novelty" and it got me a lot of attention....not always positive attention.

Unfortunately i think that no matter how hard you try with your dd (and ti sounds like you are MUCH more aware and proactive than my parents, who basically ignored the whole race issue), it will be difficult for her to get a healthy sense of self esteem if she does not see others like her. it really, really, REALLY feels good to just "blend in" sometimes.

I know when I was in the Dominican Republic I LOVED it and didn't want to leave because that was the only time that my skin color was accepted without question and it was assumed that I was "one of them."

I think it's wonderful that you recognize what your dd is feeling. I hope you can find something to make her feel more confortable with being the only "brown" one.

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#16 of 16 Old 05-15-2009, 05:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyinmaine View Post
For the last few years DH and I have discussed moving away, mostly so that she is subjected to a lot more cultural diversity. She obviously needs it. And the new baby will as well, just from a different perspective.
I hope you do seriously consider this. I am biracial (b/w)and living in a multiracial community helped me a lot (as did having a black mom ). My goddaughter is also biracial and lives in a totally white area and I feel that it is detrimental to her, especially since, like your daughter, she is the only non-white person in a blended family. When her mother got pregnant (stepdad is white) she was soooo disappointed when she found out the baby would also be white. I think books are great, but cannot address the feeling of being so different and so alone in the experience of being non-white in a white world. My heart aches for my goddaughter.

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