August 14, 2023
Tips and activities to help kids embrace their diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural identities.
If you have a multicultural family, you're part of a growing community. The U.S. continues to grow racially and ethnically diverse, and our children are reflecting their multiracial identities. Whether your kids have started to ask questions about their heritage, or you're just interested in finding ways to celebrate their backgrounds, we've got you covered.
You can start a dialogue about racial and cultural identity early on. For example, you can talk about your family's roots: "Dad's parents are from Germany, and Mom was born in China." If your child was adopted, you can talk about their roots, too. Don't be surprised if your child has questions! Children become aware of racial differences from infancy. They even begin to assign positive and negative traits to racial groups by ages 3–4.
Families can use shows, movies, books, and podcasts to talk about race and identity. When children see themselves reflected in entertainment, it benefits their self-esteem and ethnic-racial development.
Try these tips to have meaningful discussions using kid-friendly entertainment.
Use books to have conversations about being multicultural, multiracial, or multiethnic
Multicultural kids may have questions about how they and their family members look, or where they fit in. Multiracial kids in particular may wonder why their parents or caregivers look different.
Reinforce the fact that not all families look the same. Reassure them that people who are related can have different backgrounds. Family members might have different skin color, hair texture, and even speak other languages sometimes. You can find books that offer stories about diverse families. Check out this list of multicultural books. It also includes titles specific to multiracial kids and families. Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match/Marisol McDonald no combina and Mixed Me! are picture books that feature kids celebrating their unique identities.
Introduce your child to role models who share their heritage through reading. You can also look for stories about Barack Obama, Naomi Osaka, Kamala Harris, Derek Jeter, and other multicultural figures who have made an impact in their fields.
Find activities to explore your family's heritage
There are lots of ways you can help your children learn about and celebrate their backgrounds. Below are some ideas for fun, educational activities.
Celebrate holidays from your cultures. Holidays are a wonderful way to build meaningful connections to culture. They involve special foods, music and dance, stories, and crafts to enjoy. Some families may celebrate the same holiday with different traditions. This can lead to unique family celebrations. For example, Christmas foods from a child's Mexican and Korean sides can be added to a delicious new menu. You can also try to find kid-friendly activities for holidays, like Lunar New Year or Día de Muertos.
Watch or listen to shows together to pass down stories and traditions
Enjoying programs together is a wonderful way for families to talk about heritage with kids. And extended family members can be great resources as keepers of tradition. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins have experiences to share that can strengthen the cultural bonds for children.
Watching a cooking show with a grandparent and then making a favorite dish together can be great for bonding. And it can show that being multiracial or multiethnic is not just about skin color. It's about traditions passed down between generations on each side. Check out this list of cooking and baking shows. Many of the shows, like Nadiya Bakes, explore foods from different cultures.
Seek out documentaries, shows, or movies that reflect your family's backgrounds and histories. Encourage your kids to ask questions of family members who may have firsthand experience of what they see on-screen.
Looking for screen-free entertainment? There are many diverse, family-friendly podcasts you can listen to together. Start with these podcasts about a variety of cultures and religions.
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