I had to sit and decide the best way to approach this article. Did I want to give tips to the immediate family or to the extended family? See I know how families can be. I know how our own family members can react, the things that they can say thinking they are funny. I also know how society reacts, even in the 2009. Granted it isn’t like it was in the 80’s… or even before that… but we aren’t that far away from the stereotypes, the remarks, the attitudes, the looks that I don’t need to mention them. I am talking from personal experience; we are an interracial, multicultural family. Our families… well, let’s just say that as a couple we have accepted the way our families are and we have made decisions to protect our relationship and our children.
I believe that the strongest bond you should have when you decide to get married and have kids is the bond that you and your spouse share. See you can’t chose your parents, so you can’t chose the family you are born into, but you can chose the person you marry. Which means that when you chose to marry a person you need to put the bond you have with the person first. I don’t care if you are an interracial couple or not, but it is especially important when you are. I want to believe that your families would be happy and supportive of you because you are loved by another person and because you are happy. But I know that is not always the case. So what I am going to do is start with tips for the couple and their children and then move to the extended family.
For the couple
I know there is nothing more amazing then finding the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. I knew the moment I first saw my husband that I was going to spend the rest of my life with him. Come to find out he felt the same the first time he saw me. But we both also knew how our own families were going to be, and we both had hopes that the other’s family was going to be accepting and supportive.
It is very important that you and your spouse understand one thing right now. In the grand scheme of life all that really matters is the way you feel about one another. That has to be your focus, because together you can handle anything this world throws at you. Don’t spend time trying to convince your family that this is the person for you, because the only way they are ever going to come around or agree with you is if the two of you stand the test of time.
Your love for one another is going to help your children as they grow because people are going to say things to them at school… they are going to hear what family says, they are going to see the way your spouse is treated and how you react to that. My husband and I, in the beginning tried to make the best of it with our families. We thought that if we were around them enough and they could see us, the way we were together, how in love we were and how happy we were that they would open up and accept it. We, as a couple had to accept the fact that that wasn’t going to happen, and we couldn’t let that effect us anymore.
Teach your children that love does not know color line, or culture lines, that they need to be accepting of people for who they are as people not because of the color of skin they have or the things they believe in.
Now, one day in a store I had a lady get irate with me because my son came up to me and said that he had talked to a little black girl in the other aisle of the store and she was nice. I told him that I was glad that she talked with a little girl and I am sure that she was nice, but why did he have to point out that she was black? She was a little girl and that was all he needed to say. This woman that I did not know yelled at me and told me that was the most ignorant thing she had ever heard. The little girl happened to be her daughter. I asked her why was it so important that the first thing that was mentioned about her daughter was that she was black, why couldn’t the focus be that she was nice and she was a little girl? We have to accept the differences in people, but it isn’t the differences we need to focus on.
Our oldest daughter had a friend come over to our house. The little girl’s mom who I had never met came in when she was dropping off her daughter and talked to me… she kept talking to me, she was there for almost an hour. She had said that her daughter could stay as long as she wanted, they had no plans, her daughter had been looking forward to coming over. It was a nice conversation… and then my husband came home from work. Understand, our daughter is VERY fair skinned, our son depending on the time of year and how much he is outside will impact how dark he is, but he always has color, and our new baby, her skin color reminds me of tea with a little milk in it. Our children are beautiful! So when my Pakistani husband walked in, this little girl’s mom left all of a sudden. And the next morning, she called at 8 am to come and get her daughter. When she came, she didn’t even get out of her car, she honked from the street.
As much as you want others to accept you and your family, you have to accept other people. You aren’t going to change the world by trying to get other people to change their minds. You will change the world by making sure that your family unit is strong and that your children are taught the right things. Make sure that your children learn about both races, and both cultures equally. Talk to your kids openly and honestly… and make sure that you and your spouse are open and honest with one another and the you are protecting and strengthening your bond.
Jennifer Shakeel is a writer and former nurse with over 12 years medical experience. As a mother of two incredible children with one on the way, I am here to share with you what I have learned about parenting and the joys and changes that take place during pregnancy. Together we can laugh and cry and rejoice in the fact that we are moms!
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