An increasing number of children have parents of different nationalities. Although international marriage has gone through its own struggle to become a common sight today, it has undoubtedly brought a number of benefits to the table. As these couples have matured and their children have grown up, others have been taking an interest in how a mixed-race child could develop differently from monoracial children. Is it true that children with interracial parents have a different national consciousness from their peers?
Openness to Foreign Cultures
Firstly, it cannot be disputed that children in an interracial family are more likely to be exposed to different cultures from a young age. From the moment they are born, they are spoken to in different languages, dress in the traditional clothes of different cultures, celebrate a mix of festivities and enjoy the cuisines of different countries. With these varied experiences, they are accordingly more likely to be open to learning and exploring other foreign cultures as they get older.
People from interracial families are also less likely to be racist, especially if some part of their family comes from a minority race. They would tend to have a unique perspective on how there is really not much difference between the two ethnicities. However, this could also work the other way in that these people may be over-racist if both sides of their family come from privileged bloodlines.
Being brought up in an interracial household has one of the benefits of multilingualism. Children with parents who speak different languages will probably grow up learning to speak both languages, an invaluable skill for them in life. Research has shown that children who pick up more than one language in their early years are more capable of learning other languages later on, compared to a child who was raised monolingual.
Learning a language is one of the best ways to appreciate the culture of that country. Through young exposure to both parents’ languages, children will grow up with the best of both worlds – being familiar with both the cultures their parents come from. Language is also often one of the key identifiers of a culture. Even if two cultures speak the same language, they often have differences in their language usage, such as using different terms for the same thing, having different speech patterns, or sporting different accents. Instead of being brought up with only one standard, multiracial children have a higher chance of learning that there is more than one way of communicating in any language.
Strong National Identity
One’s heritage often plays a large part in shaping their identity and sense of self. Having a heritage spread out across two nationalities gives one a wider base to associate themselves with, allowing them to identify with different aspects of multiple races.
For instance, a pure Caucasian may be able to trace their roots back to Europe, where they can learn about a rich history tied to their ancestors. A half-Caucasian and half-African, however, has an additional avenue of history to explore. While they recognize that one side of their family came from Europe, the other side came from a completely different culture, which can help them to understand how their parents managed to set aside their differences and come together as a family. This can give the person a greater appreciation for their dual heritage. They may later on also decide that they identify with one nationality more than the other, essentially widening their options and allowing them to experience the difference in ethnicities for themselves. Even as a child, they will have more cultural experiences and be able to see their nationality from different points of view compared to a single-race child.
In other parts of the world, mixed-race folks have had a rich history themselves. One such example is the Peranakans of Asia. The offspring of a union between the Chinese and Malay, the Peranakans have their own music, cuisine and culture.
Blind to Race or Accepting of Race?
Some proponents of international marriage argue that children of such a marriage will grow up to be blind to race – treating everyone as an equal regardless of their country, skin colour or language. To young children untainted by the world’s view on race, people different from them are not necessarily superior or inferior just because of their ethnicity. A young child growing up in a multinational household may not even realize that their parents are of different races. One might say that a child growing up in a monoracial household would similarly not have a comparison for the race. However, when they meet other people of different races, they would be more likely to realize that these people are different from themselves and their families. For multiracial children, on the other hand, it may not even occur to them that they are meeting someone of a different race if they have been used to having relatives of different races themselves.
On the other hand, others say that such children are not blind to race, but rather acutely aware of race and choose to accept everyone regardless of that. More observant children may inevitably ask their parents why the two look different, especially in cases where the difference in ethnicity is strikingly obvious. If the child inherited more traits from one parent, they may also point out that they have different skin or hair colour from the other parent. This is a great way to start teaching young children about race, and ethnicity and being accepting of others regardless of their heritage. In time, these children may be more likely to notice the race of other people they come across, but choose to ignore it in light of the person’s aptitude.
Despite the advantages of international marriage, some would point out that the children of international marriages may become confused about their nationality if they are raised in a dual-national household. Instead of sticking to one set of traditions, holidays and celebrations, the children would be tasked with upholding two sets of these. While their monoracial peers may have a strong sense of national identity, multiracial children may feel that they are in the middle of a precarious situation. They may also be pressured to choose one side, such as when filling in forms, representing their culture or settling down with their own family.
Additionally, multiracial children could also develop negative feelings toward one part of their heritage if they personally know people of that ethnicity who they do not get along with. For instance, if one parent ends up abusing the child, they may feel an aversion towards that side of their nationality, eventually inclining towards the other parent’s heritage. This can be difficult for young adolescents who are still searching for their path in life.
Ultimately, there can be both good and bad in having children from an international marriage, although it is true that multiracial children are more likely to have more open views than a monoracial children. One’s national consciousness is best influenced by the way they are brought up and the cultures they are exposed to as a child.