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Why this post is important
Before we get to the good stuff, let me just say how much I wish I had found an article on what it is like to raise mixed race kids when I was pregnant with our oldest daughter seven years ago. Helping new moms to understand what challenges and joys to expect is really what this post is all about. If you are a new mom and have any questions about raising an amazing and adorable mixed-race baby, don’t hesitate to reach out to me!
Without further ado, I present to you:
7 TRUTHS about raising mixed race kids
- Mixed race kids are adorable! People will tell you this literally everywhere you go. I, of course, value the compliments, but I am always curious how often this happens to parents who do not have biracial kids. I work in a public place with lots of kids and parents. I never see people make such a big deal out of all of the other kids, only the biracial kids. There is definitely something magical that happens when two races are combined, these kids have gorgeous hair, skin, eyes and the best of all of the races features!
- People (and by this I mean strangers) will always want to touch their hair. The bad part about this is that they usually don’t ask and if they do it is while they are already touching it! My daughters have two completely different hair textures. One is very dark and more on the dry side with tight spirals. The daughter has hair that is lighter, very fine but also tight spirals, but it can be coaxed to stay straight without much effort. I am guessing that most people have never touched this kind of hair, I hadn’t until I had them. I also didn’t have the urge to touch the hair of little kids I did not know either.
- Side note: Most parents of mixed kids would rather you not (as a stranger) touch their kid’s hair, especially without permission.
- If you have girls, you will spend a lot of time figuring out how to do their hair. There is a pretty big learning curve that comes along with these little cuties. We have done everything under the sun with their hair including braids and flat ironing (not recommended). We finally figured it out a few years ago with a combination of suggestions from African friends and some serious trial and error. If you don’t do their hair daily, it turns into a mess of knots and kinks. We get compliments all the time on how their hair looks from other moms of mixed race kids. We use IC Olive hair shine, combined with conditioner on wet hair (do not rinse out). Just comb it out with a big comb, this is a typical selection you might need to part, comb, detangle, etc. Keep your eyes peeled for another more detailed post on how to care for mixed girl’s hair!
- They still need sunscreen. Just because they have more melanin in their skin, it does not lower their risk of skin cancer. It is just as important for them to be protected as it is for us who are melanin challenged. I try to always have some in both of our cars so we are prepared.
- Your kids will not know their identity unless you help them understand it. Having parents from two different races can be confusing. On the other hand, younger children will not typically even notice that there is a difference. Our oldest was about five when she started classifying people by color. However, the colors were very literal. She said her dad was brown, mom was pink, and she was light brown. She is now almost seven and is using more “societal” terms for our skin colors. Because my husband is not African American, but Cameroonian, we are very conscious of letting them know that they are half American and half Cameroonian. If we don’t give them that guidance, it seems likely they may get lost somewhere in the middle. More importantly, no matter where both parents are from, we are trying to assure them that they are special and loved.
- People will be mean because they are mixed race. Unfortunately, many people will still take their prejudices and pre-judgments out on your kids. Our youngest daughter had a friend in preschool she loved. She and our daughter were good friends and were constantly asking for play dates. I tried to talk to her mom about a play date and she looked at me with a blank smile (you know the one saying “I’m so sorry my daughter asked you for a play date that will never happen”). It came up again at the Mother’s Day tea party. The girls were sitting directly across the tiny preschool table from each other, which means the mom and I were too. The girls begged us for a playdate. I told my daughter it would be up to the other girl’s mom, but I would like to. The other girl’s mom pretended not to hear it an proceeded to schedule a play date with the mom of the white girl a couple seats down. At this point, I had to tell my daughter to change the subject and explain to her when we left that some people have their own ideas about things and they may not always want the same things we want. I also explained to her that there are people who do not like people that are different than them. It literally breaks your heart when these things happen, especially a the hands of adults (who should but don’t know better). It is our hope though that these hard lessons will teach them to always leave their hearts open even if it hurts.
- This brings us to the last and final, perhaps most difficult, truth. It can be difficult for the parent of the minority race to feel comfortable with a child preferring the other race over theirs. Of course in this situation where there are two things to choose from and the child is more inclined to pick one over the other repeatedly, it is bound to hurt a parents feelings. We need to be considerate of our spouse and also talk to the kids about how this makes mommy or daddy feel. In life and love, there is no black and white.
Raising a mixed-race kid is the same as raising any kid. But, there are definitely things that come up that neither my husband nor myself had to deal with as kids, primarily because we were raised in very homogeneous communities. I love my husband and my girls and I know these differences are what makes our family stronger and more loving towards others. It is my hope for you, as a determined mom, that you keep that determination in your heart and enjoy raising your adorable babies into incredible adults!