White and Raising Young Multiracial Children in Trump’s America

On Ethnicity

Here’s a shocker. I’m White. I’m so white, I don’t even know my ethnicity beyond being vaguely Welsh and that my grandma moved to California from Oklahoma during the dust bowl. My wife is Filipino but this gives me like zero credibility to talk about race, as if I know by association the daily experience of being a minority. However, being the father of two young multiracial children does inform my thinking about the impact of race in my own life, and how it will affect my children and their developing sense of selves within our current American culture.

The really good part is that acceptance of inter-ethnic marriage in America has changed dramatically over the past 50 years (since Virginia vs Loving made it legal) . According to the Pew Research Center the number of people who have inter-married has increased from 3% in 1967, to 17% in 2015 (that’s 1 in 6, more than a 500% increase!).

I hold great hope for America, and its promise of freedom for all, but lately one can’t help but worry about what powers are coming about to break that promise.

All that being said, there’s a group of people (uh, some white people) out there who think they are superior to others simply as a matter of birth, as a matter of their genetic inheritance, and would wish harm upon my wife and children, if given the chance. This is insulting at the least, and at the worst, a reason to be frightened for my family’s security. This may seem like hyperbole, but I’ve looked at the forums for some of these alt-right groups, and the intent to harm is there. But don’t get me wrong, I hold great hope for America, and its promise of freedom for all, but lately one can’t help but worry about what powers are coming about to break that promise.

Questions for the White Supremacists

I do not personally know anyone that believes in white ethno-superiority, but if I did, I’d have a few questions for them:

  1. What is the basis for your belief in white superiority?
  2. What is the evidence that the color of your skin gives you the right to this country? This country that is all colors, all genders, all nationalities?
  3. If America became a true “White” nation, what would become of my family, and what would become of me?
  4. Who gets to be white?

My kids were born with blonde hair and very fair skin. No one ever questions whether I’m their father, but when my kids are with my wife, she gets side glances, or even hesitant questions like “are you the mother?” Look at their faces and profiles and see my wife’s features there. The eyes are hers, the mouths, and noses (the attitudes). But the skin is mine (at least until they turn a golden tan in the summer and I just get splotchy pink). Some only look at the contrast in skin and wonder.

We don’t have it that bad. I know white women whose children have black fathers, and I can hardly fathom what they must go through in silence. The private judgments that play out in strangers’ eyes.

An Uncomfortable Truth – Are They Really Multiracial?

There are certain things I can’t comfortably say, because, like I said… White. I can’t say that we are all one race, that centuries of culture and migration have made us into different ethnic groups. That we are all human, and that race is a social construct. But as white supremacy rears up, odious and farcical, threatening in its emboldened state, I take refuge in an idea. It may be cliche, but I think cliches are usually true. We all came from some place long long ago. The Bible says this. Science reaffirms it. What if our changes in pigment and culture are a byproduct of geography, weather, epigenetics, nutrition, and yes, centuries of reinforced hatred, violence, and extremism? If it took this long to become different races, how long will it take to become just one?

But I’m not some starry eyed optimist. I know that the current state of our nation and of the whole world won’t change over night. The world is facing an identity crisis on more fronts than can be imagined by this one person. It’s easy to think that we can just go back, that maybe we can beat the world into what it seemed to be, before terror brought the pain of the world to our shores. But we’ll never go back, we can only hope to go forward.

 

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Here Comes the Fall Break

Stay-at-home Is the Exception – Not the Rule

Jenna at the doctor

I have a lot of respect for stay-at-home dads (and moms of course!). You work tirelessly to keep your kids fed, entertained, and largely poop-free. All this while keeping up on the house-work and hopefully getting in some me-time while kids are napping (if you have more than one kid under 5-years, then sorry, they never nap at the same time). But man, it seems like a tough and thankless gig. To add even more, if your kid is on a year-round schedule, then you have to deal with things like the Fall Break.

My wife and I would both love to be stay-at-home parents, but student debt, pre-school tuition, and a number of other things keeps this from being a reality. We’ve tried to work out the possibilities using napkins and spreadsheets, but it just wouldn’t be possible for one of us to stay home without a substantial cut to our standard of living. While a working father and a stay-at-home mother used to be the norm, in today’s America, or at least, in my bubble, it seems to be the exception to the rule.

Preschool to Kindergarten

Now, It wasn’t too difficult to juggle two kids in pre-school with two full-time parents working, because the kids could be dropped off early and picked up late. However, now that our daughter is in a half-day/year-round kindergarten schedule, things are more challenging. I’ve been fortunate to have an incredibly flexible job schedule that allows me to work remote three days a week. My office is about fifty miles away, so this helps me stay sane after making that commute two or three times a week. I’m a big fan of both Audible and Spotify (though sometimes just silence is the best thing to listen to). Anyway, I do the drop-off/pick-up routine most days, and my father-in-law picks up the days when I have to drive the Los Angeles and back. We are exceptionally grateful (and lucky), he just happened to retire a month before the school-year started.

What I’m worried about though, and how I can really start to appreciate the benefits of having a stay-at-home parent, is what we are going to do with this year-round schedule. For anyone who doesn’t know, a year-round schedule means that students go to classes for a few months, and then have a month-long break, then go to school for a few months, and then have a month-long break, and go to classes for a few months, and then have a month-long break. In other words, the three-month summer break is spread out into three one-month breaks. I can remember being in high school and when hearing about this kind of a schedule, thinking it was just awful. How can someone survive without a summer break? The real pain of being a parent of a child in this kind of schedule never crossed my mind. So what am I going to do with my daughter for a month, other than letting her Netflix-and-chill her way through all seven seasons of My Little Pony on a weekly basis? (Seriously, suggestions in the comments please).

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all have to balance work and family and even if we don’t have a “job” outside the home, staying at home IS a full-time job.

For the past two months, most days I’ve been working from home, doing my best to get Jenna drawing, playing with Play-Doh, and for the most part, she can play in imagination land for hours. I’d like to say that, while I’m working, my daughter is always playing, painting, running around outside, singing, or dancing. Truth be told, she often is doing these things, but these activities are often the bookends of a few episodes of Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse, Equestria Girls, or The Lion Guard. I’m pretty proud of my girl though, because, despite being a pretty heavy screen viewer, she loves art and writing, talks like a teenager (this is also a big pain, but at least I’m sorta getting prepared for later years… right?), and is all around a bright and beautiful child.

Work/Life Balance is a Struggle for All

Dad, Daughter and Son

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all have to balance work and family and even if we don’t have a “job” outside the home, staying at home IS a full-time job. There are a lot of parents (or single-parents) that don’t get to spend half or even part of their day in the company of their children, and would very well like to. Hell, there are days when I leave for the office before the kids get up, and get home after they’ve been put to sleep (thanks, Super-Mom).

To all the stay-at-home parents, I admire you and what you deal with day-in and day-out. The often thankless routines of keeping a house and family in order. To all the 40/50-hour a week working parents, I also feel for you and the sacrifices you make to keep food on the table and electricity flowing. No matter where you are or your situation, keep loving your children and teach them the value of your time and theirs, and I guarantee they’ll turn out okay.

Are you a stay-at-home parent? or maybe you work all day and devote your weekends to family. I’d love to hear your perspective in the comments below.

 

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Living Passionately Together – Discussing Our Three Passions

Our Secret: Living Passionately

Being happy in a marriage is all about knowing and living by your passions and those of your partner. Have you asked yourself (and your partner) what your passions are? The following is a story about an evening when I asked my wife about living passionately, an investigation into the overlapping interests that we live by together.

Myself – Figuring Thinks Out

This evening I asked my wife Jackie, if you had to list my three passions in life, what would they be? The first and second she didn’t have to think too much about. Our family and reading/acquiring knowledge. These are what I spend most of my free time doing. The third she had to think about longer. I took a seat. She said it may be more abstract, but I do a lot of things (she listed some hobbies) just to figure things out.

I was pleased with the answers in the way one must be when your wife or husband gives you an image of yourself that is almost in total harmony with what you already believed. I also find it intriguing that the first two answers came without effort, but that the third and more interesting answer took some introspection. In fact, when she asked me the same question, I went through the same process.

I told her first and foremost our family. Second would be a passion for harmony in our every day lives. She is, to her core, someone who seeks structure for our children, facilitating their success now and setting them up to be happy and healthy adults.

My Wife – The Dream Fulfillment Expert

The last answer was also harder for me to express, but it came from more of a feeling I get when I think about our experiences together over the past decade, so I tried my best to express those feelings in words. Through our relationship, first through graduate school, and then when we moved two-thousand miles from our friends and families to pursue my academic career, Jax has shown an ability to create concrete dreams, to set on a path to accomplish them, and inevitably, to see them through (in spite of all the obstacles life has thrown her way). She is driven by a passion to make it happen.

we succeed because our passions are in sync and so deeply in accord with each other as to make us one person working toward the same goals.

After thinking through (and writing about) her answers and mine, I realized a truth at the basis of ours–and perhaps most long-term relationships, where people battle the world and their selves together– that we make it, that we succeed because our passions are in sync and so deeply in accord with each other as to make us one person working toward the same goals. Now, I’m not saying you have to have the same goals as your husband or wife, only that we should work together in tandem. We in long-term relationships are in the position to be the cheerleader and supporter of our significant other through good times and bad. Jackie is my responsibility just as much as I am hers.

After I told her my reflection on her passions, she smiled and said, well, we really seem to know each other. And it’s true, we know each other pretty well, but I also know we’ll change over the years and we’ll keep getting to know each other, time and time again.

 

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