Tell us a bit about yourself and your beautiful family
I have two beautiful boys, aged 5 and 9 years old. I spent the first few years as a stay at home mother, then returned to study and work over the last 2 years. I have been separated from my children’s father for the last 4 years or so. Their father is currently incarcerated and facing deportation after he has served his sentence. My family heritage is Italian, whilst the boys fathers family is African, who reside in Canada.
Whats one thing parents should keep in mind when raising biracial kids?
How heart wrenching it is when your child experiences some form of racism 🙁 I don’t think you can prepare yourself for that (as a white woman) for the feelings that come with those situations. Also, to ensure that your child/children have a sense of identity when it comes to their heritage. Obviously their African heritage is far more dominant than my Italian heritage, so it is important that my children love both sides of their heritage and understand why they don’t look like mummy, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t family. Allow the children to search for those answers within their heritage so they can understand and embrace all aspects of who they are.
Do you feel your kids are susceptible to discrimination?
Yes i do. Because we live in a small country town, my boys are quite distinctive at school and play grounds etc. However, when we lived in the city, I found that people there were actually more discriminatory towards the boys. We had a few issues within kindy and day care that were race related and I found that the way the educators handled it appalling. We have had one incident since moving to the country, and the school couldn’t have handled it better. Even the parents of the children involved reached out to me with their apologies and ensured me that it would never happen again.
What do you do to get your children to know about their father’s heritage?
Unfortunately there isn’t much communication from the boys African heritage, so it is difficult for me to teach them about their specific family heritage, so I do more of a generalisation of Ghana heritage and African culture. We read books and watch lots of documentaries. I never want them to lose that part of their identity and I want them to be proud of both heritages. We read a lot about the history of Africa/Africans, obviously censored down to be age appropriate. I don’t want to be naive to their ancestors history, however I think theres a time and a place, and at this tender age I don’t want them to know the full extent.
What is the weirdest question you have been asked by people?
Am I their nanny haha… I even had one lady ask me, while I was breastfeeding my eldest, if he was my child?!? I also got asked a lot “are you still with the father?” These were total random strangers too! I get asked a lot if I have adopted my children.. smh…
What challenges do you face with your kids?
About a year ago, my eldest had a huge identity crisis. His father is incarcerated, and my eldest felt that because physically resembled his father more so than me, that he would end up like his father. So he went through a phase where he denied his African heritage, and even told his teachers at school that he was Aboriginal. He said he wanted white skin like mine, and he hated his brown skin. This shattered me. However, after persistent positive reinforcements and encouragements, he has embraced his African heritage and no longer hates his skin colour. I had to explain to him that there are bad people in every race, and just because he has the same skin colour, doesn’t mean he would be like him. It was a very hard time for him 🙁
This parenting gig is hard enough at the best of times, but throwing in the fact that I am raising two biracial BOYS, and me being a white woman, how do I know that I am doing this right? How can I teach them to be strong young men who are confident with their heritage and sense of self worth? I have no experience in either of these departments, so all I can do is raise them with love and support with who they are, both of their heritages, and just pray I do some things right along the way.
Whats the best thing you love about them?
They are the most sweet, loving and kind hearted children. They can be wild at times (ok, only the times they are awake haha) but they are so affectionate and compassionate towards others and animals. I could seriously go on forever for this question haha 🙂
What do you teach your kids?
The main thing I teach in this house is love and honesty. It is extremely important for me to have honesty in our house. This is probably due to my past with their father. But I want to be able to establish that bond and trust with my children, so as they get older and face difficult choices in their teenage years, they feel comfortable enough to know that they can come to be without judgment or punishment. If they are struggling with anything emotionally or mentally, that they can come to me and not suffer in silence or be led astray by the wrong crowd. We always end the night with hugs and kisses and we always say “I love you”. I try very hard to not let any of us go to bed angry or upset with each other.
Would you ever take your kids to the country of their fathers birth if you could?
Their father was born in Canada, but his family is from Ghana. I would love to take my boys to Africa!! And although I don’t know any of the family that are still in Ghana, I think the experience itself would be one that I could not rob my boys of and I would love to experience that with them.
What advice can you give me, and other mothers raising biracial children?
Just teach them love. Teach them that there are nasty people in this world, who have been taught hate instead of love. Ensure that they have a sense of who they are and where they come from. As a single mother raising biracial children, it is important that my boys always feel loved, supported and accepted. I never want them to feel that because they “don’t look like me” that they don’t belong. Welcome any questions and have family talks about their heritage, and if you are like me and don’t know the answer, make it a fun activity to all be involved in finding the answer.
We don’t have many children in our area with African heritage and when we do bump into a family I don’t want to be that creepy woman who asks strangers for play dates 😂😂.