Back to School at FamilyEducation.com
|

Raising Kids of Color

Park_Safe_2SD.gifChallenges Ahead
As an African-American parent of a 21-year-old son and a 6-month-old daughter, I've had the opportunity to reflect for over 20 years on the special issues of being a parent of color. In the past two decades, many positive changes in race relations have occurred in America, but conditions have not yet improved to the extent that we can feel comfortable that the effects of white racism are irrelevant.

Being a parent of color, I cannot raise my daughter-any more than I could raise my son 21 years ago -- by assuming that our society will be color-blind and judge her solely by the content of her character. On the other hand, many opportunities exist for minorities today in schools and in the work place when diversity is valued.

Parents of color, as well as white parents, must raise their children by exposing them early on to the reality of our multiracial society in which the future generation will play an important role. Children of color need to grow up experiencing the world as a place where they feel included, not invisible. As a parent, you can nurture your child's healthy development in the following ways:

  • Expose your child to dolls, toy figures, storybooks, and music that reflect diversity.
  • Choose TV programs and movies that feature people who share your child's ethnicity.
  • Talk about the civil rights movement, wars, and our present struggles so children of color can appreciate that we strive to live in an open and just society.
  • Teach kids about your ethnic history, including contributions to the sciences, arts, music, business, and sports. It's important that your children have ethnic pride and respect for their own cultural background.
  • Don't encourage ethnic chauvinism because it will instill in your children feelings of superiority over children from other groups.
  • Teach your kids to respect themselves while honoring the differences in other cultures.
Dealing with Prejudice and Racism
Parents of color must maintain an upbeat approach when talking to kids about race. Although racial discrimination still exists, don't paint the world as a scary place for your child. It's better for him to assume, at first, that the world will treat him fairly -- so that you don't inadvertently inhibit him.

When questions of difference of skin color and hair texture arise-usually when kids are about four or five years old-simple answers are adequate: The world is made up of many different kinds of wonderful people who help to make life more fun and exciting." Later on your child will have more sophisticated questions to ask about differences. Your answers should instill a philosophy based on democratic principles, with a "we are all brothers and sisters under the skin" outlook.

On some occasions, children of color (and white children, too) may be verbally attacked with racial slurs or insults. If that occurs:

  • Quickly reassure your child that he or she is just fine and that the person using such a slur has a terrible problem.
  • Follow up, if necessary. You may need to talk to the offender's parents.
  • Encourage your child's school to have multicultural activities and positive discussions about differences.
As I view it now, I will be raising my young daughter in a fashion similar to the way I raised my 21-year-old son: giving her a solid base of self-worth and helping her to feel good about who she is. A strong sense of self will help her cope constructively with any rejections or discrimination she may encounter along life's way. But I hope in this next generation, racial prejudice will become less and less of a problem and not tarnish the hopes of millions of children of color.
|


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

get ready for school!

We’ve got your
shopping list,
lunch menu,
and more.

GO

highlights

Handwriting Headquarters
We've got handwriting practice worksheets, handwriting tips, and answers to your child's writing struggles, just in time for back to school. Brought to you by BIC.

11 Coolest Lunch Boxes for Kids
Send your child's lunch to school in style! Check out our picks for the 11 best lunch boxes with great features from BPA-free accessories to spill-resistant fabric.

7 Important Back-to-School Safety Tips
Follow these back-to-school safety tips to make sure your child stays safe on the way to school, in the classroom, and while on the playground.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!