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Parenting a child of color in a white household takes different parenting styles than parenting a child of the same race as yourself. As a white person, there are all of these things you have to consider, realize, and understand in order to parent a child of color. It can be incredibly hard to take a look at yourself and the world around you and fully realize certain truths that you may not have to face yourself. Plus, it is hard to prepare your child for something you yourself will never experience. As scary and impossible as these things may seem, it is not impossible to successfully parent a child of another race.
Discussing Racism is a Must.
The parenting styles of parents with children of another race have to include a willingness to go outside your comfort zone. First and foremost, parenting a child of color takes a parent who is willing to openly discuss race with their children. Parenting styles that focus on “I don’t see color” do not fly here (and shouldn’t no matter what, but that is another story). Openly discuss race and racism at an age-appropriate level.
Racism cannot be treated like a bad word. It cannot be ignored or glossed over. At the same time, it does not have to dominate every single dinner table conversation. A black or brown child must understand that they will grow up in a world where some people will not like them just because of the shade of their skin. Then you have to teach them appropriate ways to respond to it.
Teach Your Children How to Respond to It.
Parenting a child of another race involves being willing to confront racism when you encounter it. These moments are not the time for laissez-faire parenting styles. Moments when you have to confront someone who says or does something racist, especially if it is someone you know, take courage. They may also take some education and training. It takes continuous learning. There is no shame in seeking out resources if you are unsure how to appropriately respond when you encounter racism. There are many books, groups, and online resources that can help prepare you for the time when you will inevitably be confronted with a racist comment.
A white person speaking up when you see a racist act is going to be received differently than a person of color speaking up. For one, you are unlikely to be worried that your saying something will get you injured or worse. This is also something that you, unfortunately, have to teach your children. It is imperative that you discuss societal issues like racial profiling and prejudice in law enforcement on an age-appropriate level. Start these discussions earlier than you may think you need to since even elementary and middle school-aged children of color have unfair encounters with police.
Parents of children of another race cannot ensure their children will not encounter a teacher, law enforcement officer, or store clerk who treats them unfairly because of the way they look no matter what is in their parenting styles. But what you can do is prepare them.
If there are white children in the family, they also need to be a part of these conversations. They need to understand their privilege in these situations and how they should react, especially since there is a large chance they could be involved in one of these encounters. Some parents’ innate parenting styles may be to want to protect their children at all costs.
As much as you may believe like you are protecting your kids – white or black – by keeping the concept of racism or racial profiling from them, it is actually more damaging to shield them from this reality. It is much better to have the conversation and prepare your children in order to protect them than it is to keep them in a bubble. It is not fair to send them into a world for which they are not prepared.
Seek Opportunities Outside Your Comfort Zone.
The parenting styles of parents with children of another race also have to include a willingness to go outside your usual bubble. It is vital that you seek out opportunities for your child to be around people who look like them. Children of color who live in a white family are likely to be surrounded most of the time by people who do not look like them, so it is important to find opportunities where they are not the only brown person in the room.
Join a diverse church. Frequent a park or community center that is diverse. Enroll your child in a school that is ethnically diverse. Find a diverse club or sports league to get your child involved in. This also provides your child with real life role models who look like them that they can relate to. Whatever opportunities exist where you live, find them and get your child involved. When you are one of the only white people in the room, if it makes you feel uncomfortable, remember that your child is regularly in this type of environment.
Besides seeking opportunities for your children to be around people who look like them, parents of children of another race need to seek opportunities to expose them to their own culture. This may seem most important for kids who are adopted from another country, which it is, but it is also important to expose children of color who were born in this country to their ethnic culture too.
White parents need to be comfortable bringing their Black children to a Black-run barbershop, to African-American cultural festivals, Black art exhibits, and expose them to foods that are typically eaten in African-American households. The same goes for white parents of Hispanic, Indian, and Asian children. It is great to expose them to your culture and your traditions, but it is also important to expose them to things that they would experience if they lived with a family that looks like them.
Parenting a child of another race is not for the faint of heart. It takes a parent who is willing to face certain truths. To face certain privileges. To face the scary reality of what it is like to grow up Black or brown in America. It takes parenting styles that involve being proactive, being an advocate, and being willing to step outside what you are used to in order to give your child the best life possible. It also comes with realizing that your idea of “the best life” may not be what is best for a child of color. But is that not what parenting any child is like? Coming to the realization that everything you thought it was going to be is not what it is like at all.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on WAYS TO LOVE AND SUPPORT THE BLACK COMMUNITY
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