Menu

The honest way we discuss race with our biracial children

In today’s sometimes volatile environment, we don’t shy away from the tough conversations.

The honest way we discuss race with our biracial children

My oldest son—now 11 years old—was quiet when I picked him up from school through the car circle. He was in second grade at the time and sat with hands folded in his lap, staring out the window, lips pursed and body rigid. I studied him through the rearview mirror for a while.


“How was your day, Gabriel?” I asked, tentative.

“Fine.” His response was curt, abrupt.

“You look upset about something,” I said. And that's when the tears came.

"A boy in my class was being mean to my friend today. He doesn't like her because she's a different color. I didn't even know she was a different color. She's just my friend."

FEATURED VIDEO

He sobbed as he spoke. I forced my eyes from the rearview mirror to the road, fighting back my own tears. I'd long known this day would come, though I had no way of pinpointing exactly when.

"Gabriel I'm really sorry," I started.

"I don't understand what's wrong with my friend's skin!" Gabriel retorted.

"There's nothing wrong with her skin," I said. "This boy probably heard an adult say something about skin color.”

"But it's wrong!" Gabriel exclaimed.

"Yes," I said. "It is wrong, and the best thing you can do is continue to love people for what's in their hearts."

"I don't understand why he has to be this way," Gabriel said, resigned.

"He doesn't, but he doesn't know that yet," I said. "When the people around you think that way, it's hard to see differently. And in the past, a lot of people have thought that way. In fact, a long time ago, your daddy and I couldn't be together because we have different skin colors."

"Mommy you and Daddy don't have different skin colors. Daddy is dark brown and you are light, light, light, light brown."

I couldn't help but laugh. My son's innocence was refreshing.

When my husband and I had first learned we would have a son years earlier, we made an agreement to be open and honest about race. As an interracial couple, we wanted to ensure our child could talk about race without apprehension. We also wanted to make sure Gabriel understood the truth of his heritage from both sides.

We do this through age-appropriate conversations about slavery, discrimination, and hate speech. But we also talk about our own experiences with race. My husband, who is darker than the majority of his family members, talks with frankness about his past struggles with skin color. I talk about the misdeeds of my race, and my own family's hangups around race.

In today's sometimes volatile environment, we don't shy away from the tough conversations. We talk about some of the harmful comments by politicians or people in the media have said about immigrants, people of color, and women. We explain to Gabriel why those comments are harmful to all people and we invite him to add his own viewpoint to the conversation.

We're careful never to chastise him for his views, but instead, invite him to explain them to us. We also do our best to present him with differing opinions. That way, he learns that people can disagree with him, and vice versa, in a respectful way.

In creating a safe space where race is a neutral subject, Gabriel feels free to be honest and ask questions.

Today, Gabriel's empathy toward others astounds me. Last year, a new student found it difficult to make friends, and Gabriel picked up on her anxiety. He decided to show her around for the day, and introduce her to his friends. One of his teachers was so touched by his actions that she emailed me to tell me about his willingness to set an example for others.

My husband and I know our talks about race are far from over. With an almost 2-year-old coming up in today's world, we'll have many more conversations ahead of us. We also realize our conversation isn't over with Gabriel, either.

Race is a layered, heavy topic, but I’ve found that the best way to create open dialogue is to make it a part of everyday conversation.

Today, Gabriel knows that brown and light, light, light, light brown are percieved a little differently than he once thought. He understands that he didn’t create the racial tensions that exist today, but he can be a catalyst for change.

Gabriel, and so many of the children growing up in this world, represent a chance for change, a glimpse of hope. They are our future, and while everything may not even be close to perfect in this country—I am hopeful because of our youth.

These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

FEATURED VIDEO

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

Keep reading Show less
Life

Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

Keep reading Show less
Work + Money