Are you parenting transracially? I am. And the older my kids have become, the more aware I am of how we are seen outside of our immediate family, how my children are perceived and treated.
Parenting transracially can be an additional layer of adoptive parenting and it is something you need to examine. White parents have little to no experience with what their kids may be exposed to. Caucasians are afforded privileges because of the skin they’re in.
Adults who parent transracially need to make concerted and ongoing efforts to prepare their kids for the prejudice they may face. Think about the examples below (I’m sure you can come up with dozens more) and then reflect on your children and what their world looks and feels like to them:
- You can easily be with people who look like you, in any group, pretty much anywhere. You can live in neighborhoods and communities that are your race.
- People treat you with respect and civility.
- When watching TV, a movie or reading a paper your race is widely represented.
- You can shop without being followed or monitored by a clerk/security.
- When learning about the history of your country, you have learned that your race made it what it is.
- You can be concerned about racism without feeling that you are being self-serving.
- The color of your skin or shape of your ethnic features doesn’t work against you if you are, say, pulled over for a traffic violation.
- You can buy bandages that are more or less similar to your skin tone.
- When speaking or doing something that draws attention, you are not singled out for representing your race (fill in the banks…we’ve all heard it countless times).
So parents, what can you do?
- Expand and immerse your family within a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic “world.” Reassess your community, school(s), church, etc.
- Provide role models for your children, of similar ages and adults. Find mentors who look like them.
- Make sure your kids see themselves as non-white.
- Talk about race, racism and the history of racism. Keep talking. And then keep talking…
- Role-play with your child to give them options for dealing with situations they may find themselves in.
Parents: This is a complex subject. What I have written here is a seed for conversations going forward. What additional ideas and experience can you share?