How to Reinforce a Positive Identity with Dual Heritage Kids
This week my daughter’s teacher announced the children would be talking about identity and where they and their families are from. She encouraged parents to talk to their children beforehand so the children can positively contribute.
As the parent of a mixed heritage child, I was excited that my daughter would be having this conversation in school. Her background is, at best, interesting and layered but at worst, it’s complicated and confusing.
So, as a person of mixed parentage myself, I have to admit my heart did skip a beat. I wondered when does identity start to become a struggle for our dual heritage kids?
I remember being a teenager and cringing from those conversations about where I was from. Do you mean where do I live now? Where are my parents from? What culture do I identify with most? What languages do I speak (or in my case, not speak well enough). As dual heritage kids, when it came to my Iranian side, I often felt confronted about laying claim to a culture I knew so little about. And coming to England as a young adult, I couldn’t have felt more like an outsider if I tried. What basis did I have for identifying with any of these cultures?
Do Kids Even Understand Identity at Such a Young Age?
When it comes to my daughter, I wonder what she might say in such a conversation. First of all, would she remember all the places/races and cultures that make up who she is? As mixed heritage kids, does she identify with all of her heritage? Of course, these questions of a 5 year old were bound to fail. But I couldn’t help feeling conscious that I may not be doing enough to educate her. Or worse, that she may end up as confused or as pressured as I felt during these conversations.
When hubby originates from Nigeria, and I hail from Canada/ England and Iran, the story can be complicated. Particularly for a 5 year old who now lives in the UK but spent a good part of her short 5 years in Nigeria and Canada.
Her looks, race and accent will further put pressure on her to identify as either Black, Black British, African- British or just Naija. If her skin is darker, she may be questioned if she tries to identify as hyphenated or mixed race as people will argue her intentions. “Why don’t you just admit you’re black”, I can see her mates saying.
By now, she can reel off the list of countries, and can even tell people a few words from Yoruba and Farsi. But whether she truly identifies with any of these (or all), I guess only time will tell.
It’s Not Really About Geography… it’s about Relationships
I do plan to show her a map of the world and to help her identify where each of these countries are located. But what I’ve realised is that any depth of association to these countries lies in her relationships.
As long as Grandma and Grandpa, cousins, Aunts and Uncles are in her life, she will hopefully always feel connection to where she’s ‘from’. And yet, her everyday experience and friends will connect her more than anything to the UK. And I’m okay with that. Being mixed and biracial, the ultimate positive is that she has options.
One reader commented that by the time our little ones grow up, their world will be a blended mix of all different backgrounds and cultures. So perhaps hers and other mixed heritage kids’ experience will be different than mine. All I can do is prepare her as best I can.
For more resources about talking to your kids about being mixed, follow these links:
Raising Mixed Race Kids: The Moment They Wake Up to Their Own Identity
We were running late. After 2.5 weeks off, it was back to school last week and back to getting 3 kids out the door- on time.
On day 1, I got overwhelmed, frustrated that I couldn’t find one of DD1’s take-home reading books. Costing a small fortune to replace, I shouted at her that she should take better care of them.
We got out the door but she refused to talk to me. I tried the usual cajoling and apologised for shouting but she refused to smile. Guessing she was overwhelmed by the roller coaster of emotion she was probably feeling over seeing her friends and teacher after so much time off, I left her.
We’d spent a lot of time together over the holiday including having my Mum over from Canada. I stopped though, weary of being late but feeling guilty because I knew I should have kept my cool. Leaning down I looked her in the eye and asked her what was wrong.
Then she said it. “I wish I had a Mama that looked like me”.
This year has been huge in my daughter’s life as she’s become more and more aware of both her own colour and that of people around her. We only talk about race and colour in a positive way, acknowledging the differences but recognising that people are all the same inside.
My heart dropped- sensitive to the hurt I might have caused her but devastated as well that she would think skin colour would mend her broken heart.
Where do you go next when your children realise they’re different?
I tried hard not to be heartbroken but I knew that I was completely unprepared for this this morning. I sighed with despair that she should have to feel this way, that this should be important and the meaning we attach to skin colour.
Slowly, we each took a turn to say what makes us mother and daughter. Not the colour of our skin. The fact that she has my mouth and my eyes and that she’s good at certain things and not so good at others. But most importantly, our love for each other. And how that will never change… Even when I’m shouting.
We arrived on time. And she’d forgotten about it when I raised it again after school. Flippantly, she said, “we already talked about this Mum”.
What made her feel this then… on that particular day, I’ll never know. Perhaps she had been feeling it all this time. The feeling that perhaps we don’t match or she doesn’t fit in… or that someone who looks like her might not shout?! All at the tender age of 5.
I imagine her older, walking beside me and feeling the same thing but perhaps more equipped to be able to dismiss this feeling of matching skin colour as unimportant because well… it just is.
On top of my skin being a whole shade lighter, my hair is dead straight. And with media, magazines and friends sporting this same look, sometimes the curls can just feel too much.
If only she knew, I kept saying to myself… to others. She is the object of so many admirers when we go out. Her hair can attract comments from strangers everywhere and yet she doesn’t want unique hair. She wants straight hair.
My daughter’s journey doesn’t end there. I made it my mission not just to subtly show her curly haired role models but I point them out everywhere we go. Beautiful white, black, brown skinned women with short, long and all types of textured curly hair. Her books, music artists and the shows she watches all sport curls. I talk to her about being unique, about having the confidence to be different, to be proud of how God made her. And to be more than just her curls. To be unique in every way because it’s better to be a leader than a follower.
Today she told me in no uncertain terms she doesn’t want straight hair.
Otherwise she’d be like everyone else. She said she likes her curls and can’t wait to be able to grow them and twist them and try out new hairstyles. She said she likes herself the way she is.
I smiled and knew she is beginning her journey to understanding and loving herself. Curly hair and all.
There is no prouder moment for a mum than when your daughter can look in the mirror and say she loves who she is. My daughter is ultra sensitive and, I’d like to think, mature for her age. So perhaps it was an early internal switch that just happened at the age of 5. And perhaps she was already on this journey without any intervention. But for any girl, all girls, it’s so important for them to know, love and accept who they are.
After all, it can’t hurt to consult with a professional even it’s just to get some advice about hair type, products specific to your child’s hair texture and how to keep it moisturised, how often you should wash it, what products work and what doesn’t…
So give them a call today and make an appointment. And do let me know if I’ve missed any! This list is only as good as you, my readers comments!
If you’ve got curls, coils or waves, then Matthew James is your go-to stylist!
Matt specialises in cutting, styling and caring for naturally curly hair.
In fact, he loves curls so much he focusses solely on cutting and styling textured tresses – the first stylist to do this in the UK.
Matthew is committed to giving his customers the best experience possible and will always start every appointment with a thorough consultation. If you love colour ask Matthew about the bespoke, curl-by-curl colour service to really make your curls pop!
Curl specific products are used in the salon to cleanse, hydrate and style – so no need to worry about harsh sulphates stripping your curls or silicones sealing out moisture!
At Klassic Koncept we are very happy dealing with all types of mixed race hair and have a wealth of personal experience and expertise to pass on to you,
Mixed race hairin particular and curly hair in general can vary in curl pattern and texture all over the head. Hair at the nape maybe very different from hair at the crown. What is required is attention to detail and careful analysis as the various areas of the hair will need to be treated and conditioned in different ways. We are confident that how we work with your hair will allow you to manage it and wear it with pride.
Whether you want to “Embrace your bounce”, straighten or colour we can guide you in the right direction. We won’t be judgemental about whether you want to be curly or straight – it’s your hair and a beautiful accessory, not a political statement. We also don’t get too hung up on curl types, it makes no sense when the hair varies from one area to the next. It’s sometimes useful as a general description but serves no purpose in the actual decision with what to do with your hair. Far more important is the texture and with mixed race hair a common error is that often density is taken for coarseness, when in fact the exact opposite is true. Each head of hair is individual and what works for one may not work for another.
Need help with your curly hair? Here at Nuala Hair Studio, Bristol’s best hair salon, we love cutting, styling and colouring curly hair. Whether your curls are fine, medium or thick we are here to help. We understand that your hair has different needs to straighter hair. We understand that the shape is very important to you, the texture is doing what you want, and we will listen and guide you through style, maintenance and home care. We can offer excellent curly hair advice using specialist hair products that will work for you. We love to give you great tips on how to get the best out of your curl using good techniques that aren’t difficult!
Cococheno hair salon is Bristol’s leading multicultural Afro/European hair salon outside of London. We are a reputable salon committed to providing the best product and excellent service to all our customers.
Our friendly team has over 20 years experience constantly staying in touch with the latest trends and learning new techniques. With a reputation for excellent service Cococheno strives to maintain a high level of customer care with an in depth consultation and achievable styles personalised for you and top tips to maintain your style at home. Experience pure pampering in stylish and friendly surroundings.
Our creative team has a vast knowledge working with Afro, European, curly and multicultural hair. We offer a full range of hairdressing services including styling, cutting, colours, relaxers, texturisers, perms and the Yuko hair straightening system.
Curl Love, Azzini Hair 3 high street, Botley, Hampshire, SO302EA
The only Devacurl trained and accredited hairdresser in Hampshire and one of the first Lorraine Massey Certified hairdressers in the country! From ‘curl coaching’ to colour to intensive hydration treatment, Curl Love has great reviews and it’s easy to book an online appointment. All products used during your curly cut with me are 100% Curly Girl Friendly, currently I exclusively use CurlyWorld by Lorraine Massey- The creator of the curly girl method!
I have been in the hair industry for over 20 years, and had a client base of curls, having curly hair myself, understanding the struggles with curls.
Always wanting to learn, researched and embarked on trying at the DEVACURL academy in NYC in 2016.
2018 I had the opportunity to train with Lorraine Massey,( the author of Curly Girl the handbook) one of the first Educational classes in the UK. This was a opportunity to go back to the start, way before Devacurl and train with Lorraine who was one of the co-founders of Devacurl.
CURLbyCURL™ certified by Lorraine Massey, Devacurl trained specialist, the only hairstylist in South West England with these qualification, specialising in cutting and colouring curly hair using the unique colouring Pintura technique, completing this by travelling to New York City in the summer of 2016.
Researching and continual development in my career and passion, I am currently studying with the Curly Hair Artisitry, developed by Scott Musgrove. I’m highly qualified in hairdressing and have an educational background with educational qualifications too. I’m based in The Hair Boutique, Exeter , South West England.
Always begin with a thorough consultation. This is Key to any type of hairdressing. I want to know about you and your curls and your routines. I listen to you, offer professional advice but also, listen to your needs, and your advice too as the curls are yours and you live with them! A bespoke service.I adapt my skills to suit your hair. I cut hair dry, cutting curl by curl, with no comb, only scissors, no thinning scissors are used.
Do you suffer from curly hair that’s dry, damaged, frizzy, or uncontrollable? Do you find yourself not knowing how to self-care for your curls so straighten it until it’s damaged beyond repair? Well you’ve done the most important bit; finding a hair stylist experienced with curly hair in Plymouth! Not all hair dressers were created equal, so if you’re looking for a stylist skilled in cutting curly hair make sure that you trust that they understand curly hair first (as all our talented stylists do here at David & David).
If you have got curly hair you’ll understand. Curly hair needs to be treated differently and with #Vickyqueenofcurls (google it!) you’ll find a stylist that is an expert in the personal nature of curly hair. Of course, every client’s hair is different, but this is especially relevant when it comes to curly hair.
Our Curly Hair Service, in our Manchester salon is part consultation, part dry cut and part aftercare advice. #Vickyqueenofcurls comes highly recommended and is Manchester’s foremost expert in the intricacies of Curly Hair Treatments.
Trained & Certified by Lorraine Massey in the curl by curl cutting method,cutting natural curly hair dry following how the the curls fall naturally.cleansing ,conditioning & styling using all curl friendly hair products. naturally curly hair specialist Scotland . curly hair salon situated in Monifieth.
You’d be amazed how often clients with naturally curly hair have come to us in despair of ever finding someone who can deal with their hair type. The level of bounce and the texture of naturally curly hair can throw a few curve-balls at you!
However, we LOVE curly hair and all its challenges. In fact if you know what you’re doing it’s not so much of a challenge.
Scott – our resident curl expert says : ” With curls you have to take into account that the overall shape of the style may change depending on how curly the hair is on that particular day and also that the client might want to also wear their hair straight so you still need precision cutting – I often cut curly hair dry, so I can see the shape that I want to end with – then I get the hair cleansed and treated and go for the detail of the cut.”
Faye Lawless Hair are the curly hair experts. Frustrated curlies fear no more. We are here to help you manage and celebrate your curls. We offer the complete curly hair care experience from cutting curly hair in the right way, colouring, curl smoothing and the all important home styling and after care advice.
Our out of town hair studio in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne is a place of creativity and style, and possibly the friendliest professional hair salon in Newcastle. We are confident that you will find no where better for your personal and professional hair design solutions for men and women young and old; hair styled, hair cut, hair up, hair perm, hair straight, hair curly, dry cut, blow dry, roots or hair colour, coffee or tea, at your hairdressers Newcastle.
“My name is Kimberley and I am the owner and founder of The Curl Clinic Salon and Spa. We specialise in naturally curly and textured hair. Having curly hair myself, I have always noticed the lack of hair salons available that can cut and style my curls whilst understanding the importance of products and maintenance. Our advanced Deva Curl Trained Stylists are dedicated to restoring and embracing your naturally curly, wavy, kinky, or oily hair. Our personalised services offer you hand crafted expertise, tailored to your individual hair. Here at The Curl Clinic our mission is to help encourage you to see and feel the unique beauty of your naturally curly hair.”
Our style team are chosen for their expertise, passion and creativity. Hair is as individual as our fingerprints, and we know it is important that you get the cut and colour that enhances your style. Our ladies’ and gentlemen’s hairdressing services are tailored individually to give you beautiful, natural and manageable hair every day.
Come and visit me if your hair needs some tender loving curls.
I work with clients who have a natural wave to curly hair to get the best shape for them without making weird triangle shapes and wedges! I follow the curly girl method written by Lorraine Massey.
We are proud to say that we are rapidly becoming the curly hair specialists of the north, with clients that travel far and wide to visit it us. Our main aim is that you enjoy your experience our relaxed, but professional approach to hair and beauty. Lead by multi award winning, and Avlon educator, Serena Giscombe, the Made family are approachable, empathetic and knowledgeable.
Every client of “The Cutting & Colour Room” is a real life testament to our professional craft of cutting, shaping, and styling hair in way that reveals our clients natural good looks. Curly, thick locks, or fine and straight – “The Cutting & Colour Room” has the creative talent and exceptional skills to help you look amazing.
We know what it’s like to struggle for YEARS with curls until you learn how to embrace them and look after them. That is why at Kate Preston Hair in Fareham (Hampshire) we made it a priority to become Curly Hair Cutting Specialists.
We understand curly hair has special needs and it takes a special skill to cut it well. You must know how to look after your curls. So many people just don’t have a clue how to manage them well and are left struggling with their hair!
If you want to trade your frizzy unmanageable curls for drop dead gorgeous sexy curls then Kate Preston Hair and Beauty in Fareham is the place to come.
“I’m Nikki Sampson and my passion is to help other curly ladies embrace their natural curls. For many years I was never happy with my curly, frizzy hair , apart from the 1980s when even I had perms! I was always on the lookout for the miracle product that would change my relationship with my hair. Unfortunately the hairdressing industry as a whole treats curls as if they are the same as straight hair. There is virtually no specialist training available and many products which are marketed at curly hair are a big let down and a waste of money. I had to travel many miles to find a hairdresser who understood curls and didn’t want to straighten them or fluff them up.
This inspired me at the grand age of 51 to take the plunge to go to college and train in hairdressing so that I could then go on to specialise and help curly ladies rediscover and love their curls. I spent six months travelling to London one day a week to work for and learn from curl specialist Lindsey Hughes, before completing an advanced level 2 DevaCurl course in New York last November.”
Specializing in Curly Hair , Hair Extensions Handpainting balayage techniques & Make up. “A curly cut experience, will show you your true curl potential. I also will guide you on how to maintain and look after your Curls.”
*Disclaimer: I haven’t tried each and every one of these UK curly hair salons but I have done my research looking for good reviews and recommendations from fellow curlies. Leave your comments below if you’ve tried any of these and what your experience was like.
10 Things EVERY Parents Should Do When Raising Mixed Race Kids
Take two parents, two entirely different cultures, traditions and perspectives and you get a family with some pretty tough discussions, strong opinions and choices ahead. We can’t do it all and we certainly won’t do it perfectly when it comes to our mixed race kids but there are some things we as parents need to prioritise when raising mixed kids of dual or multiple heritage.
Speak your language
If one of you speaks another language or originates from another country where English isn’t the first language, that means your mixed race son or daughter could be bilingual. That’s an amazing opportunity to give your children! Even if you don’t speak it well, passing down your culture can often goes hand in hand with language. Basic greetings are sometimes all a child needs to feel part of or included amongst relatives or friends. And yes, your mixed race kids may resent having to attend language school every Saturday now but they’ll thank you for it later on when they’re able to converse with friends and family from your native country.
2. Talk about your history
History can tell a thousand stories and telling your own family history as well as that of your homeland will do wonders in opening up all sorts of discussions with your children. For myself and my siblings growing up with a Persian father, I learned fast that the Iranian Revolution marked a major historical upheaval and explains a lot about modern day Iran, its people, its diaspora and its politics. Pre-Revolutionary Iran and the ancient civilisations and dynasties also shed light on who and why Iranians are such a proud people. I don’t know if I would understand my Dad’s culture and origins if I didn’t have this perspective.
3. Emphasise both Cultures
Make sure you talk about both parent’s cultures to your mixed children. It’s so easy for parents to get caught in the trap of emphasising only the culture that is ‘exotic’ or foreign that the partner who hails from the country in which you reside or one that is more common, gets forgotten. Make sure both of your mixed race kids’ cultures and traditions are valued and explained and talk about it with each other to ensure you’re both on the same page.
4. Talk about race and racism
Even if you’ve never fell victim to racism, this is a must must discussion parents need to have with their children. Your children will have different experiences from you and they may have darker or lighter skin but either way they need to be able to talk about and understand race and how it relates to themselves even if you’re uncomfortable talking about it. (Read on for more about how to talk to your kids about racism)
5. Pass on your traditions
Traditions are so important in passing down one’s culture. You don’t need to do everything your parents did but highlighting the important ones, in discussion with your partner, will help your children again to understand where you come from and the parts of their culture which are important. In our family, we have chosen to continue the traditional Nigerian greeting but have chosen not to pierce our newborn daughters’ ears. We have made these choices consciously and with intention about what we wish our mixed race kids to take from Nigerian culture.
6. Mark your cultural festivals
With so many cultures to choose from, we’re never at a loss to have a reason to celebrate. From Canadian Halloween, to Nigerian Independence Day to Nowrooz (Iranian New Year) Festival, we seem to have it all covered. Each one gets as much attention as the next and we even try to ensure we can attend a community gathering to make it as authentic as it was for us growing up with the real thing. Your children will remember these times and may even choose to pass them down to their children one day.
7. Demonstrate the importance of traditional greetings
Greetings are so important in today’s globalised world where countries, people and cultures emphasise different things in their greetings. In Nigeria, greeting an elder is a very formal affair involving a bow or a curtsy along with lowered eyes to show respect. In Persian culture, men and women typically kiss each other on the cheek three times to show affection and respect. It’s important that our mixed race kids understand how and why we greet each other in each setting so they can navigate their way around each cultural setting when they’re older.
8. Visit your home country with your children
Even if you’ve never been and you’re a third culture kid yourself, at least you had the benefit of being raised by parents who grew up there. Your children will need to see the real thing before they can understand your culture (and you) completely. The people, the cultural norms, complexities and weirdisms that make it up. Don’t let it become just a vacation spot either. Let your mixed race kids spend their summers there to know just how you grew up and how you actually lived.
My oldest had the benefit of living in Nigeria for two years of her short little life. She still remembers the smells, the sights and little things she sees today trigger those memories. The best part is, she remembers our time there with so much happiness and can’t wait for us to bring her back there.
9. Foster close relationships with your children’s Grandparents
Grandparents are so important to instilling your culture in your mixed kids. They carry with them all of the above- history, traditions, language and so much of the cultural norms. Developing that relationship and ensuring your mixed race kids get to know their grandparents will have a huge impact on them in years to come.
10. Give your children the freedom to adapt culture to who they are as third culture kids
Your mixed race kids are not you and their experience is going to be different from yours as children of an intercultural family. When they’re old enough, allow them to explore their culture for themselves and decide which parts they can identify with and which parts they don’t. This may change again when they have families of their own but it’s important that you let them be who they are and not decide for them even when they’re old enough to decide for themselves.