Multiracial children are one of the fastest growing segments of the
U.S. population. The number of mixed-race families in America is steadily
increasing, due to a rise in interracial marriages and relationships,
as well as an increase in transracial and international adoptions. Publicity
surrounding prominent Americans of mixed cultural heritage, such as
athletes, actors, musicians, and politicians, has highlighted the issues
of multicultural individuals and challenged long-standing views of race.
However, despite some changes in laws and evolving social attitudes,
multiracial children still face significant challenges.
- About two million American children have parents of difference races.
- In the United States marriages between blacks and whites increased
400 percent in the last 30 years, with a 1000 percent increase in
marriages between whites and Asians.
- In a recent survey, 47% of white teens, 60 % of black teens, and
90 % of Hispanic teens said they had dated someone of another race.
Emotional Needs of Multiracial Children
- Recent research has shown that multiracial children do not differ
from other children in self-esteem, comfort with themselves, or number
of psychiatric problems. Also, they tend to be high achievers with
a strong sense of self and tolerant of diversity.
- Children in a multiracial family may have different racial identities
from one another. Their racial identity is influenced by their individual
physical features, family attachments and support, and experiences
with racial groups.
- To cope with society biases, mixed-race children may develop a
public identity with the "minority" race, while maintaining a private
interracial identity with family and friends.
- Research has shown that children with a true multiracial or multicultural
identity generally grow up to be happier than multiracial children
who grow up with a "single-race" identity.
- Multiracial children in divorced families may have greater difficulties
accepting and valuing the cultures of both parents.
The Role of Parents
Some interracial families face discrimination in their communities.
Some children from multiracial families report teasing, whispers, and
stares when with their family.
Parents can help their children cope with these pressures by establishing
open communication in the family about race and cultures, and by allowing
curiosity about differences in skin color, hair texture, and facial
features among family members. Parents can also help their children
in the following ways:
- Assist children with developing coping skills to handle questions
and/or biases about their background. Help children deal with racism
without feeling personally assaulted.
- Encourage and support a multicultural life for the whole family,
including becoming familiar with language, traditions, and customs
of all family members. Live in a diverse community where the sense
of being different or unacceptable is minimized.
- Understand that children may have feelings of guilt or disloyalty
to a parent if they choose to adopt the racial identity and/or culture
of one parent. Recognize that children may identify with different
parts of their heritage at different stages of development or in varied
settings in order to "fit in."
- Locate books, textbooks, and movies that portray multiracial individuals
as positive role models, as well as books about the lives of multicultural
- Establish support networks for your child from the school, grandparents,
relatives, neighbors, and the greater community.
For the majority of multiracial children, growing up associated with
multiple races and cultures is enriching, rewarding, and contributes
to healthy adult adjustment. Some multiracial children may be uncomfortable
with their diverse heritages and may benefit from supportive counseling
to help them clarify their feelings. Multiracial children who have emotional
or behavioral problems may be referred for a psychiatric evaluation.
Daycare.com would like to thank American Academy
of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for this information in striving
to make daycare and childcare a more productive and efficient service.
You can contact them at: 3615 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C.
20016-3007 voice: 202-966-7300 fax: 202-966-2891.