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  • Writer's pictureLynn VanderWielen, PhD, MPH

Three Specific Ways to Support our Multiracial Kids

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

Who better to learn about helpful ways to support our multiracial kids than early adults who have lived-experience to understand what works and what doesn’t? This is the approach of the “Mom, You Don’t Get It” publication where 20 multiracial college students were interviewed to learn their experiences with parental support strategies that worked for them. The team found three support strategies that the college students shared were helpful: connection support, racial discrimination support, and Multiracial identity expression support.

What works for multiracial teens:

Connection Support

  • Parents who make it clear that their kids are BOTH multiracial with unique and beautiful physical characteristics AND share racial/ethnic/cultural similarities with parents

  • Parents who celebrate being different

  • Parents who express their pride and love for their child’s multiple racial/ethnic group memberships and their physical appearance

“[My mom] loves us and she’s proud of what we came out to look like”

Racial Discrimination Support

  • Parents who validate experiences with discrimination and don’t brush them off

  • Parents who empathize with their child’s experiences and share their own experiences with discrimination

  • Parents who offer helpful advice and/or take action to stand up for their child

“Once we finally handled [a run-in with discrimination], obviously it felt a lot better because it felt like they were on my side, and they wanted to help me not be discriminated against.”

Multiracial Identity Expression Support

  • Parents who emphasize that all of their kid's heritages are important

  • Parents who support their child to identify however they wish

“They encouraged me acknowledging both parts, but they also wanted me to make more of my own decision. So it’s like, you claim what you are and I’m like, I know what I am”

Each of these support strategies require us as parents of multiracial kids to be intentional and thoughtful listeners. The study states that “Parents who are monoracial are unlikely to relate to experiences of monoracism and may be unaware of the challenges their children face as Multiracial individuals”, which is why we need to expand our understanding and really listen to our kids!

Should I trust this information?

I do. While it may seem that the experiences of 20 people may not be enough to really understand what works, it is about this number where new interviews don’t often generate new understanding (this is called saturation in the research world). It is also clear that these strategies are not specific tasks that you can accomplish and consider finished, but rather they are a way of parenting that offers consistency in your words, actions, and unwavering love.

Article Access (Unfortunately this one is behind a paywall, but Dr. Atkin would be happy if you reached out to her at

Citation: Atkin, A. L., & Jackson, K. F. (2021). “Mom, You Don’t Get It”: A Critical Examination of Multiracial Emerging Adults’ Perceptions of Parental Support. Emerging Adulthood, 9(4), 305-319.

Photo by Some Tale on Unsplash

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