Lynn VanderWielen, PhD, MPH
Parents and United Messaging to Support Multiracial Kids
Multiracial kids need to hear positive messages about their multiracial/multicultural identity - and not just multiple messages from one person. Studies have shown that when a child hears consistent messaging from all parents/caregivers they are more likely to feel pride in their identity, connected to their cultures, and confident in navigating the world as a multiracial individual.
The study for today aimed to understand the types of messages that multiracial teens receive from their parents, and if they were more likely to have a positive sense of multiracial pride if they had strong and consistent messages from multiple parents/adults.
The study learned from 330 youth (between 12 and 17 years old) who self-identified as biracial with one parent identifying as Black, and the other parent identifying as White. The participants were asked to take a survey that measured statements about their parents and experiences such as “My parent says that I should be proud to be Biracial”, “I love being Biracial”, and “In different situations, I will identify more closely with one of my racial identities than another”*.
This paper found that youth who received consistent and frequent messages from both parents around pride in their racial identity, preparation for bias, and intentional conversation around racial equity had higher levels of pride in their biracial identity, and felt most comfortable navigating their multiple racial identities. It is important to note that supporting multiracial identity development comes in two distinct and important forms: supporting multiracial pride and preparation for multiracial bias.
What is the takeaway?
If your situation allows, it is important that you and your partner agree to be proactive and intentional about racial identity development. This means connecting your child with pride in their cultures, instilling joy and love in their multiracial identity, and always seeing your child as whole. This also means preparing them for bias they will inevitably encounter. Join the Samahra Community to learn more and for specific guidance on making this happen!
Should I trust this study?
I trust the findings that the authors share, but note that there are limitations. Importantly, the sample of 330 youth is overrepresented by Biracial males with married Black fathers and White mothers. Therefore we cannot generalize these findings to other family situations and gender-identity groups. Other studies (one we reviewed recently in our blog) highlight that parents of different racial identities tend to discuss racial identity development differently. So that is something to consider. Ultimately, regardless of these limitations, we know that our kids deserve consistent and frequent messaging from all loved adults that they are whole and incredible.
Article - The full article is behind a paywall, but those who are interested could reach out to Dr. Green (the first author) directly to request a copy.
Citation - Green, McKenzie N., N. Keita Christophe, and Fantasy T. Lozada. "Concordant and Discordant Patterns of Parental Racial Socialization among Biracial Black-White Adolescents: Correlates and Consequences." Journal of Youth and Adolescence 51.12 (2022): 2340-2354.
*The These statements are a part of a tool called the The Racial Socialization Questionnaire for Biracial Adolescents, which was developed by the first author of this paper.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash