children are one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S.
population. The number of mixed-race families in America is
steadily increasing, due to a rise in interracial marriages
and relationships, as well as an increase in transracial and
international adoptions. Publicity surrounding prominent Americans
of mixed cultural heritage, such as athletes, actors, musicians,
and politicians, has highlighted the issues of multicultural
individuals and challenged long-standing views of race. However,
despite some changes in laws and evolving social attitudes,
multiracial children still face significant challenges.
two million American children have parents of difference
the United States marriages between blacks and whites increased
400 percent in the last 30 years, with a 1000 percent increase
in marriages between whites and Asians.
a recent survey, 47% of white teens, 60 % of black teens,
and 90 % of Hispanic teens said they had dated someone of
Needs of Multiracial Children
research has shown that multiracial children do not differ
from other children in self-esteem, comfort with themselves,
or number of psychiatric problems. Also, they tend to be
high achievers with a strong sense of self and tolerant
in a multiracial family may have different racial identities
from one another. Their racial identity is influenced by
their individual physical features, family attachments and
support, and experiences with racial groups.
cope with society biases, mixed-race children may develop
a public identity with the "minority" race, while maintaining
a private interracial identity with family and friends.
has shown that children with a true multiracial or multicultural
identity generally grow up to be happier than multiracial
children who grow up with a "single-race" identity.
children in divorced families may have greater difficulties
accepting and valuing the cultures of both parents.
Role of Parents
Some interracial families face discrimination in their communities.
Some children from multiracial families report teasing, whispers,
and stares when with their family.
can help their children cope with these pressures by establishing
open communication in the family about race and cultures,
and by allowing curiosity about differences in skin color,
hair texture, and facial features among family members. Parents
can also help their children in the following ways:
children with developing coping skills to handle questions
and/or biases about their background. Help children deal
with racism without feeling personally assaulted.
and support a multicultural life for the whole family, including
becoming familiar with language, traditions, and customs
of all family members. Live in a diverse community where
the sense of being different or unacceptable is minimized.
that children may have feelings of guilt or disloyalty to
a parent if they choose to adopt the racial identity and/or
culture of one parent. Recognize that children may identify
with different parts of their heritage at different stages
of development or in varied settings in order to "fit in."
books, textbooks, and movies that portray multiracial individuals
as positive role models, as well as books about the lives
of multicultural families.
support networks for your child from the school, grandparents,
relatives, neighbors, and the greater community.
majority of multiracial children, growing up associated with
multiple races and cultures is enriching, rewarding, and contributes
to healthy adult adjustment. Some multiracial children may
be uncomfortable with their diverse heritages and may benefit
from supportive counseling to help them clarify their feelings.
Multiracial children who have emotional or behavioral problems
may be referred for a psychiatric evaluation.
information see other Facts for Families: Normal Adolescence
#57, #58; Adopted Child #15; Foster Child #64.
# 71 Updated 10/99