Single Moms We Answer All Your Questions About Raising a Bi-Racial Child
By Melissa Chapman
If you’re a single mom raising a bi-racial child you’re likely intent on incorporating the traditions and practices of each part of your child’s race into her life.Well single moms Tina B. Tessina, PhD is here to answer all your questions about just how to accomplish your goals and…the news is good!
SMM: If you’re lucky enough to have support from your child’s father, what are some ways the two of you can work together to make sure your child feels comfortable expressing all aspects of their race?
Dr. Tina: Hopefully, you and your child’s father have incorporated practices from each culture into your lives, and your child is spending quality time with both sides of your families, sharing in their celebrations. Culture is largely about attitudes, religion, customs and food. If you step back emotionally,and take a look at the aspects of both cultures you’ll be able to choose which aspects to blend into your own blended family.
SMM: If you and the baby’s father are not on good terms, and you are left with providing for your child’s mental and physical well-being- what can you do to make sure that your child has good role models, and an understanding of his father’s race?
Dr. Tina: Even if you and your child’s father are not on good terms, connect with his family if you can, and participate in their celebrations.If not, then connect with others of the same ethnicity and culture. If you’re not connected with your child’s father, then you need to find some males (not ones you’re dating) who can be good role models. Often, uncles can be more upright than their brother, and hopefully there will be a grandfather or other family man who will step up.
If not, then find role models in other groups who are of that culture, and get acquainted with them as early as possible, so your child can grow up surrounded by both cultures. You can take your child to a church, mosque or synagogue of dad’s culture and meet upstanding men there who will serve.
SMM: What can you do to counteract the teasing and negative comments your child may encounter from ignorant people? What can you do to imbue your child with a healthy self image and help him embrace his biracial identity?
Dr. Tina: Teach your child that any kind of inappropriate teasing or remarks, from anyone, represents ignorance on the part of the teaser. Children begin with a healthy self-image. Just deal with any damage done as it happens. If you see your child is upset, take time to find out why, and if it’s racially related, talk to him or her about tolerance and respect, and how some people just don’t understand, and they’re wrong. You are already showing your child the positive aspects of the culture, and your child already has positive role models, right? If a very hurtful situation arises, ask a wise person of the other ethnicity to help you explain how it works.
SMM: Are there any organizations or concrete activities you would suggest single mothers take their bi-racial kids to?
Dr. Tina: Absolutely. The internet has many meet-ups of mixed ethnic parents, there are cultural organizations in most communities, and churches and families are always good resources. Keep your child’s interests in mind, and don’t be too proud to consult the father’s family church or synagogue.
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