In recent decades, global diversity has brought many biracial or multiracial families together, and my family is one of them. Having a Belgian father and a Chinese mother, our two daughters were exposed to two very different cultures from day 1. My husband and I want to make sure that they would grow up having both Western and Eastern cultures melting together in their daily lives. Hopefully, this way they can live in an environment that celebrates diversity and encourages them to embrace their rich ethnic backgrounds with confidence and ease.
Celebrate All Cultures
I do believe that one’s cultural heritage often lays the foundation of one’s moral code and values in life. Therefore, I think one of the most important things we need to teach our multiracial kids is to celebrate the various cultures of their families. This means learning about history and traditions and incorporating them into daily life. The easiest thing to start with is traditional celebrations and the food that is linked to them! Since we live in Hong Kong, we are so lucky that we celebrate both Chinese and Western festivals. We used these occasions to introduce our kids to traditional folklores and foods, be it rice dumplings during Dragon Boat Festivals, or the chocolate egg hunt orchestrated by the Easter Bunny. By embracing all aspects of your child’s background, you help them develop a strong sense of identity and pride in their heritage.
Encourage Exploration and Observation
As our children get older, I encourage them to explore their identity and heritage. Living in Hong Kong expose them more to the Chinese culture in their daily experience. So, during extended holidays we would send them to Belgium to stay with their grandparents so that they can be fully immersed in the Belgian way of life too. They can improve on their Flemish language skills, visit the country where their paternal family is from, and learn about the historic background of their ancestry. By learning about both cultures in depth, the children can develop a deeper connection to their heritage and a stronger sense of self.
Address Racism and Discrimination
We are really lucky that we live in a relatively open-minded and international city that historically it is a place where East meets West. Mixed race families are not rare and there are so many schools and communities that embrace racial diversity. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, multiracial children may face discrimination or prejudice because of their background. For our girls, once they grow up and start venturing out on their own, they will face similar challenges too. It’s therefore important to address these issues head-on and teach our kids how to respond to them. This might involve discussing the history of racism and discrimination, as well as teaching them strategies for dealing with prejudice. Hopefully, we can help our children develop resilience and confidence in themselves.
Raising multiracial children can be challenging but rewarding. By celebrating diversity, teaching them about their identity, encouraging interest and curiosity about their heritage, and mentally preparing them for racism and discrimination, we can help our kids develop a strong sense of identity and resilience. Our older daughter always finds it amusing when asked “where she is from” and she would reply, “Do you want the short answer, or you have half an hour to spare for the long one?”