Our family has always been color blind. Why would we teach our children to notice differences?
I always remind families that their goal is not to be color blind, but color AWARE. The reality is that our children navigate a world that is not color blind. They will experience the curiosity of classmates and, occasionally, overt prejudice. To equip our children with responses for these situations, we need to see the world through our children’s eyes—in color.
Your child needs to see people that look like him; not only classmates, caretakers, doctors and teachers but also the people you, his parents, choose to associate with. Consider this quote from a 10-year-old boy I worked with a few years ago: “Nobody who looks like me is worth my parents’ friendship.” Quite a statement, isn’t it?
Surveys of adopted adults indicate that racial identity and being adopted continue to matter well into one’s adult years. When we help our children think about diversity, we give them a foundation on which to develop a healthy identity.
How do we recognize and celebrate our daughter’s cultural identity and still make her feel like she is a member of OUR family?
Does your child feel like she is “a weird kid in a white family” as one child succinctly put it, or a member of a multiracial family? If you are a multiracial family, in your attitude to the world around you, your child never has to choose between her racial identity and her identity as a member of your family.
To make your family multiracial, you’ll need to bring yourselves into your child’s culture. Watch movies with people of the same ethnicity, read books by authors or with main characters of the same race. As a parent you need to look at your community differently; much of today’s prejudice is the absence of diversity. Educate your family on your child’s culture and continue to learn. Don’t just send your child to culture camp – find the adult version and go. Ethnic services or professional clubs may offer interesting opportunities.
Talk about and enjoy the differences in life and in cultures. This creates an environment where your children can talk to you about what they are working through because their identity formation grows and changes just like any other trait.
For more information on conspicuous families consider Adoption Learning Partners' Conspicuous Families: Race, Culture and Adoption
If you'd like to discuss your family's specific situation with one of our therapists, we would be happy to help.