Is it different being raised in a biracial family?

Posted by Ando, 28 Aug

Over the past decades, we have seen more and more biracial family setups due to the fact that more and more people from different races falling in love, living together and having children in the process. But is it any different being raised as a mixed race individual?

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Biracial meaning

When two people from two different races bear a child together, then the kid is biracial. It is that simple. But today, with the rise of multiracial families in America, its kind of hard for a person to claim that they are truly biracial. The biracial meaning has been watered down. This is because some of their parents or ancestors could have been biracial themselves making be born of more than one race. That is said, it makes more sense to use the term multiracial or interracial as opposed to biracial.

So on to the topic at hand, is it different being raised in a mixed family?

Benefits of being raised biracial

Exposure to richer cultural resources

You might be a biracial couple and both have you have been born and bred in America. But the fact is, different races have different cultures no matter which part of the world they are raised in. For instance, there could be some traditions and cultures that different races hold dear. And this is the major difference about biracial people. They get the chance to experience both cultures. They have to live between both worlds which has its benefits.

The truth is a child raised in a biracial family grow up exposed to all the benefits and advantages of a culturally diverse and rich environment. And this is because they uphold the varied traditions and customs of their parents. And most of them usually get the chance of speaking more than two different languages. For instance, in the case where one parent is Mexican and another Asian, this gives them the opportunity to embrace both cultures (which are very rich) and a chance to learn both languages. And the beauty about having to grow up in a multicultural environment is that these kids learn that different races and cultures can coexist under one roof.

Interracial parents are forced to invest more

Now we know that much as there is acceptance to interracial households, a blended family might still experience some stigma. Some of this social stigma is imagined and sometimes not. That said, mixed race parents tend to invest more in education,  extracurricular activities, home learning resources, and different enrichment projects. This is mainly because they are aware that their kids look different from others in school. They know that their kids feel different too. So they tend to invest more in after school activities so that their kids can fit in socially.

Interracial kids tend to be more tolerant

It comes as no surprise to find that children raised in blended families grow up to be among some of the most tolerant and friendliest individuals of all. And this is because they have been brought up interacting with more than one race.

Biracial people are more relaxed

There is a study from the Journal of Social Issues that found that multiracial children grow up to be psychologically tougher. This makes them experience less stress than their mono-racial peers. The reasoning behind this is that since they identify with more than one racial group they easily adapt to different cultural environments. They might not stand out, but they naturally adapt and fit in perfectly.

Challenges of multiracial children

Despite significant growth of mixed individuals, significant laws that are meant to protect them and the benefits they might enjoy, multiracial families challenges that they still experience. Here are some...

Racial devaluation

There is racial devaluation by the extended family members. Now, much as families do fight, there are those instances where the conflict takes a racial form. Sometimes it can even happen between siblings and start making comments based on color, features which can be traumatizing to the kids. Much as a biracial family might sometimes avoid discussions about racial issues with their children, race and racism is a reality to them. Parents should instill a multicultural lifestyle and teach their kids to embrace both cultures.

Multiracial families and discrimination

Raising interracial children in a society centered on hatred and division can be challenging for a biracial family especially if the children are raised in a setting on inferiority and inadequacy. Interracial children even experience discrimination from people as close as family, close friends, neighbors besides the society at large. Most end up growing with identity issues. And it all begins when they first go to school and realize that they are different. It's worse when their schoolmates alienate them because they don't quite fit. Imagine your classmates tossing you around because you are 'not white enough' and 'not Asian enough'.

Now, much as they are lucky to have been born in a multicultural family all they end up seeing is the problems. Growing up, they might forget about seeing the bigger picture of their diverse heritage. They end up lonely and with self-esteem issues which might lead to bigger behavioral or emotional problems. They might start hating their mixed identity and as they grow older, they begin altering their bodies to look more like the preferred race of the parents.

It is the duty of the parents to have the topic of multiracial families and discrimination early enough and prepare their multiracial kids for such situations. They should also emphasize the importance of embracing and accepting their multiracial identity. They should also ask their kids to be open about any bullying and discrimination in school as biracial kids can be a target of discrimination by their peers. This will help nip such issues in the bud before they escalate and scar them for life.

Some facts about multiracial people

  • In the days leading up to 1967, biracial kids were considered “illicit results of illegal relationships” and were treated as second class citizens.

  • In recent decades, the multiracial population is growing at a fast race in the U.S. and Europe. Multiracial individuals make up a sizable demographic group especially citizens under 18.
  • Looking at the numbers, in 2013 9 million individuals in the U.S. identified as mixed race. 10% of the children born then were biracial.
  • There has been a 400% increase in interracial marriages between White and non-White people in the last 3 decades.
  • There are great role models of multiracial people to look up to. Barack Obama, Halle Berry, Nicole Sherzinger, Rashida Jones, Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Alba, Tiger Woods, and many more.

The way things are going, in the next century almost every family will somehow be a mixed family. We need to face the fact that today, most people can't claim that their family is traditional. Things are changing whether we accept it or not. And change is a good thing as long as society accepts it and handles it. Soon we will be a multiracial society. So we need to address some of the problems that this population faces. Parents of a biracial family play a significant role when it comes to bringing up kids in a multicultural and multiracial environment. They need to teach them to embrace their rich cultures and protect them from minority racism.

For related articles and more, visit TemptAsian.

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