My first multiracial grandchild was born recently and I am in the throes of falling in love again. I’m remembering the thrills of having a new baby all over again as I listen to my son talk about his new daughter. I also remember the questions about racial identity and children. I’ve learned a lot about the subject since my own biracial children were born and I was clueless.
Are things different when you have a multiracial child instead of a single race one? Yes and no. A child is a child and we should treat them all the same, but some people will treat your multiracial grandchild differently. We have to have patience with them. I remember some people looking at me and then at my own children with a quizzical look on their faces as they tried to figure out what race or races they were and what our relationship was. Thirty years ago I had no idea how to handle it.
I distinctly recall shopping with my son when he was little and going from one size group to another. When a salesperson offered to help me, she commented, “I think it’s so nice when people adopt!” My son was not adopted, but I had no idea what to reply. That would be very different now.
We can help by educating people, including family, friends, and salespeople. We can explain that our children are biracial or multiracial and that it means that they are two or more races. We can give them our preferred terminology. We can talk about racial identity and the need to self-identify. We can explain that our grandchild will, at some point, decide on their own racial identity, but that we are raising them to embrace their entire heritage.
My first gift package to my new granddaughter included a book called More, More, More said the Baby, which depicts a white grandmother and multiracial grandchild playing together. There are many more books about interracial families than ever before and we can gift our grandchildren with them and build their libraries.
We can be honest and educate. Tell people about Project RACE and encourage other grandparents to join our growing Project RACE Grandparents Division. Most important, we can love being grandparents to our wonderful multiracial grandchildren. It’s a great gig!