Hello everyone. I am new to mothering.com and this is my first post. I'm 22 yrs old, married to the love of my life :-) and we are expecting our first baby, a girl!
My husband, Fernando, is American- born and raised in NYC. But his parents are Colombian (they moved back they several years ago as well).
I am a European mutt, so to speak. I was raised by my mostly Italian side, but I'm German more than anything else. I just consider myself a white American.
Anyway, I am wondering what other Moms have experienced with having biracial children? I never thought about it much before but I am concerned about how she will feel about her racial identity. I want her to feel proud of both her hertiages, and learn both Spanish and English. English will be easy since we live in America, so Fernando is going to speak Spanish exclusively to her and I'm trying to learn as well. She will also come with us to vist his family in Colombia (I havent been there yet either).
I just want her to feel accepted by both whites and Latinos, but I'm not sure how it will work out. We live in a VERY white..kind of country...neighboorhood in NJ. We have to stay here for now, but I dont want her to be the only Latina girl in school. That would be hard for her, I think.
I also want to educate myself about how to react if people say negative things about her, or ask offensive questions to me in front of her (like..'is she yours?'). She has a LOT of love, so I think she will be just fine. But since I am white I grew up diffrently than my husband. He helps me to see things in a new light, but I dont know what its like to grow up as a minority in America. Racism may be less blatant than it was 30 years ago but its alive and active :-(
I just want to protect my little girl forever from the world :-(
what do you want to know?
My kid is half Peruvian and doesn't resemble his father physically at all, he's blonde and blue eyed. Latino isn't a race though, so it's not like 'looking white' disqualifies him from claiming it. His name is Spanish and we've moved back and forth between Peru and the US since he was a little one enough times for most people we associate with to know his heritage. I am fluent in Spanish and we do a home language/outside language approach (I speak Spanish to him in the US, and English here in Peru) and he is bilingual. So far we have not had any trouble with discrimination and he's had a number of Latin@ kids at daycare to interact with...I think these issues will become manifest more in later childhood, he hasn't started public school yet so his circle is still pretty small.
When in the US, I live in a liberal, relatively diverse college town with a significant undocumented Latin@ population, enough to have a number of Latin markets and cultural events and stuff, although the emphasis is definitely on Central American and Mexican culture/food than South American. I have definitely had to work to keep his Spanish up while in the US. For example, any DVDs he watches I put the Spanish language track on, we speak Spanish together at all times even in public or around other children, I pretend not to understand if he talks in English to me to make him use his Spanish, I tried getting a bilingual playgroup together but it kind of tanked and I never had the time to get it going again as a student and single parent.
raising my two sunshine children.
My family is the ultimate in cultural fusion, lol . My ds' bio father is half Dominican half Puerto Rican. My dd's father is half Mexican, half Costa Rican. My children have family in all four countries. I've only spent time in the Dominican Republic and that was before ds. I am biracial black/white with a smidgen of Hispanic ancestry.
The first year of ds' life I made it a point to speak to him only in Spanish. his first words were "gato" and "agua." He and I moved back with my ex and the inlaws for a couple months and the home was Spanish speaking so ds was immersed in it.When we left things were kind of crazy for the next few months and we lost the Spanish a bit because we were moving around living in English only environments. now that ds is 3, I noticed a couple weeks ago that he never speaks in Spanish anymore. I know it's still there but he is beginning to lose it. This is due to laziness on our part as parents. So we have reinstituted the Spanish only rule at home. 3 days into it I am already seeing improvement.
As far as being the only one of their ethnicity, kids now are fortunate. I grew up knowing very few people who looked like me. It was very difficult and had a huge impact on my self esteem. My kids are surrounded by people of all shades and colors and it is wodnerful. Off hand I can think of 6 biracial kids, 4 Hispanic, 3 white and 4 black that ds plays with regularly. His preschool has children from several dierent countries and they do teach Spanish although it's not immersion. I would definitely encourage you to seek out opportunities for your dd to be around kids that look like her, as well as be surrounded by the culture. Look at neighboring towns with a more diverse population, and "import" your dd to that town's library story time, or playgroup, etc a couple times a week. Better yet is if you can find a Spanish speaking mom's group.
We cook food from all 4 countries at home and we sing the kids to sleep in Spanish. ds' favorite song as a baby was arroz con leche. I highly recommend a DVD called cantarima. Very entertaining, not annoying and not overly stimulating. Ds loved it and it was a great way to expose him to Spanish. We used to play it in the evenings before bedtime as we were winding down. Also this website http://www.guiainfantil.com/ has some childrens songs and other useful information all in Spanish. Might be helpful to you as you practice your language skills also!
I can't tell you how gratifying it was to me to bring my ds at 2 yrs old into a bodega and have him hold his own language wise with no help from me (and even told me, "mama this food is like what you cook for me!)
One thing I would say to be prepared for is to compromise on some things for the esake of the overall cultural experience. Some things, like carseats, breastfeeding are not changing no matter what. Other things, like passing the baby around, little kids staying up til midnight, and the constant flow of sweets, I can live with. and then there are things that I have learned to love, for example the breaking out of grownup drinks and music at every social occasion, even a 2 yo birthday party. Who couldn't love that?!
Very blessed mama to one bouncin' boy (12/07) one who didn't get to stay (6/09), one potty learning, mess making diva(4/10), and one cheerful milk monster. (12/11) Happy partner to the love of my life.