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Counseling Issues and Multiracial Families

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  • multiracialbookclub
    Counseling Issues that can affect Multiracial Families Signs of Racially-Based Struggles [found] in [some] Multiracial Families All families, regardless of
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2007
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      Counseling Issues that can
      affect Multiracial Families

      Signs of Racially-Based Struggles
      [found] in [some] Multiracial Families

      All families, regardless of race, encounter
      challenges and stressors, but there are a
      variety of unique racially-based issues and
      struggles that tend to confront Multi-Racial families.

      To assess if your family may be grappling with
      any of these, consider the list of questions below.

      "Who am I?"

      A core struggle for Mixed-Race people is how to
      define themselves racially, which is influenced by
      a host of factors including physical appearance,
      family values, geographic location, etc.

      Does anyone in your family, especially children or
      adolescents, have difficulty defining themselves
      racially, and experience persistent confusion, anxiety,
      distress, or irritability when posed with this question?

      "Whose side are you on anyway?"

      Parental conflict sometimes creates "sides" that
      kids have to choose between, and in Multi-Racial
      families, this pressure can be racialized.

      [When] Nea's father (whose is White) and her
      mother (who is Black and Native American) argue
      …Nea feels torn between them, including racially.
      According to Nea, "I'm afraid if I'm too in touch
      with my Black and Native roots my dad will think
      I'm rejecting him and siding with my mom,
      and if I'm too white my mom will think I'm
      rejecting her and siding with my dad."

      Are there parental conflicts in your family that,
      directly or indirectly, create "sides" and do
      the "sides" extend to racial issues as well?

      When the Misdeeds of One are Held Against All

      Sometimes the hurt that a loved one causes
      is generalized to an entire racial group.

      Christina (who is White) and Carlos
      (who is Black and Latino) recently divorced
      after Christina fell in love with another man.
      Their three children, who felt abandoned,
      have generalized their hurt and anger
      with their mother towards all White people.
      As their daughter stated, "You just can't trust
      White people, they let you down every time."

      Has anyone in your family used the hurt and anger
      caused by an individual as "proof" of stereotypes
      or negative beliefs about an entire racial group? 

      Racial Devaluation

      Racial devaluation occurs when negative attitudes
      and behaviors are expressed toward any of
      the racial groups represented in the family.

      This may occur directly when family members
      make denigrating racial comments, or indirectly
      through behaviors where certain children
      are treated more favorably than others. 

      How might you or other family
      members express racial devaluation?

      How often does this happen?
      What effects might this have on
      the family, especially on children?

      Between Brothers and Sisters

      While some sibling rivalry and conflict is
      natural, beware of when it becomes "racial".

      Tensions among siblings around differences
      in complexion, hair textures, eye color, and
      facial features often are tied to painful
      wounds that can strain relationships and
      compromise healthy racial identity development.

      Do any of the sibling conflicts in your
      family revolve around racial issues?
      If yes, how?

      "Race doesn't matter in our family"

      Wanting to see everyone as "just human"
      and to not make race "an issue" leads some
      families to avoid talking about race altogether.

      Yet race and racism are inescapable
      realities [that are found] in our society.

      Families who don't talk directly about race often
      fail to provide their children with the racial
      socialization they need to understand and
      manage racial realities outside of the family.

      As Mr. Franklin explained, "In this family, we're
      all people, so we don't dwell on the race stuff."
      While a noble ideal, in refusing to address race,
      Mr. Franklin failed to prepare his son, Mike
      (half White and half Asian), to handle
      the "the race stuff" he encountered
      when he went away to college.

      Is it hard for your family to discuss
      race openly and directly?
      What messages do kids learn about race
      and how are they prepared to manage
      racial issues in the wider world?

      When Friends are Unfriendly

      Many Mixed-Race kids experience
      racial scorn and rejection from peers.

      Such experiences are painful but with
      appropriate guidance and affirmation
      children can cope successfully.

      If and when your children encounter
      racial rejection from peers, do they
      talk to you about these experiences?

      Do your children have the coping skills and resources
      to manage these experiences with confidence?

      What To Do If Any of These Signs
      Are Present in Your Family

      If you recognize any of these signs in your
       family, consulting with a marriage and
      family therapist is highly recommended.

      Family therapists are trained to understand,
      restructure, and heal family relationships.

      A family therapist may spend some time meeting
      alone with parents or just with kids, but at all times
      they are working for the benefit of both the whole
      family and for each individual member.

      What to Look For in a Family Therapist

      Seeking the services of a family therapist
      is similar to finding the right pair of shoes:
      sometimes you have to try several
      pairs before you find the right fit.

      The most important thing is to feel comfortable
      with your therapist and sense she or he
      is a person you can grow to trust.

      It is useful to select a therapist who is comfortable
      and willing to discuss race openly and directly.

      One of the best ways to test this out is to bring
      up the topic of race and observe how
      comfortably the therapist responds.

      --- written by Tracey A. Laszloffy, PhD


      It is estimated that the Mixed-Race population
      in the United States  will reach 21% by 2050…


      Check All That Apply
      : Finding
      Wholeness as a Multiracial Person

      By Sundee Tucker Frazier.
      Downers Grove : Intervarsity Press (2002).

      American Mixed Race:
      The Culture of Microdiversity

      By Naomi Zack.
      Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield (1995).

      Does Anybody Else Look Like Me?:
      A Parent's Guide to Raising Multi-Racial Children.
      By Donna Jackson Nakazawa.
      Oxford : Perseus (2003).

      Everyday Acts Against Racism:
      Raising Children in a Multi-Racial World
      By Maureen Reddy (Editor).
      Seattle : Seal Press (1996).

      Click here for more information on this or
      other informative materials from AAMFT.

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