Teenage angst is a challenge for the teens and their families across the board. When mixed race families are dealing with the emotions and the highs and lows there is a whole additional layer of stress, misconceptions, and frustrations. Some of the strain can be an internal family dynamic and some of the issues are imposed from the outside. Parents and progeny in mixed race families may have a steeper learning curve with each other. And certainly with family, school, and community, because of the perceptions of biracial teens in society.
Mom And Dad Really Don’t Get It
Most parents have had the experience of teens insisting “you don’t understand!” In families where parents and kids do not share the same racial identity mom and dad may need to acknowledge that they may not be able to empathize completely with their teen’s experience. Racial discrimination is a real problem experienced by mixed race kids that their non-minority parents have never experienced. It is also an issue in cases where parents have adopted children of a difference race. Without living through the discrimination, themselves it is hard for parents to figure out how to support a confused kid. Who has suffered real damage because of other people’s racism. At the same time, it is hard to determine what is a genuine injury that explains bad outcomes and choices. And why is just a kid pushing buttons and questioning authority.
Does It Matter Why A Teen Emotes?
A non-racially based push back from a teen can cause worry and irritation for teachers, parents, and others. If the reason a teen acts out is influenced by his or her personal mixed race or the racially blended family of which he or she is a member does it make the situation better or worse? Furthermore, most teens go through periods of rebellion, pushing away their families and making decisions that can have negative consequences.
But when a young person feels isolated and disenfranchised from his or her family because of the mix of backgrounds the adults have the responsibility to investigate further. If a mixed-race teen or child whose family is a blend of different backgrounds is struggling it is important to identify the reason. Educating themselves about the unique stresses you child experiences being mixed part of a mixed family is your responsibility as a parent. Working together to mitigate the pressure is essential to help your young person past this obstacle.
When teens from mixed race families are dealing with extraordinary challenges at school, work, or home professional assistance can help. Talk with counselors or therapists to help the teen make sense of a tumultuous time and a confusing identity. Now is the time to connect with all the important adults in your teen’s life. Also, together you can support his or her growth during these difficult yet exciting years. If there is any unresolved conflict among members of your teen’s extended family resolve it as you work to guide him or her through these important years. Learn from each other so you can champion this special young person moving from adolescence to young adulthood.