Welcome to Stacy-Ann Gooden, who is graciously sharing her story and thoughts on raising mixed race, multicultural kids in this Spotlight on Mixed Race Families. Stacy-Ann blogs at Weather Anchor Mama and yes, she is in fact a weather anchor! She is also a blogger with a ton to share about parenting and raising multiracial children. You’ll definitely want to hop over to her blog after you finish up here. I’ll include a link at the end, of course!
Tell us a bit about your family and how it all came to be.
My husband and I met at work. We attended college during the day and had part time jobs at a call center at night. We sat on opposite ends of the floor on different teams. But, we’d see each other everyday and say hello. Eventually he moved to my team and sat right next to me. That’s when we started a friendship. We’d talk in between calls, and eventually we had our first date.
Even though we clicked, I was still concerned about how well our family would get along. He’s a white American of Irish and German descent. I was born in Jamaica and my family and I moved to the United States when I was a child. Needless to say, our upbringing was very different.
However, I later found out we had a lot in common. Family has always been important to us, and everyone got along well. My husband and I are both very loyal people. I knew then that he would make a great husband and father. Our physical connection is what brought us together, but it’s our values that have kept us together.
We’ve been married for 11 years and have two beautiful biracial kids. Teaching them about their heritage is just one of our goals, along with raising them in a diverse community. We live on Long Island in a neighborhood that allows them exposure to people of different backgrounds.
What role have your cultural or racial differences played in your relationship?
I was more concerned about our cultural differences than our race because the Jamaican culture is rooted in various traditions such as food and how we raise our kids. Will he like rice and peas with curry chicken? If we were to have kids, would we agree on how we would discipline them? These were just a couple of questions that popped up in my head.
I was pleased at how well he fit in with my family. My mom is a tough nut to crack, but he immediately stole her heart. I remember when he came over for dinner and ate his entire plate, then went back for seconds!
While some would cringe at the thought of goat meat and ox tail, he gobbled it up. That was important to my family because it shows that he appreciates our culture. Don’t get me wrong; we don’t expect you to eat everything we put on your plate. But, being open to our customs is important to us.
His family is more “meat and potatoes.” We’ve been married for over 11 years and I don’t recall his family ever serving rice. I grew up eating spicy food, but his family is the complete opposite. It was definitely an adjustment for me. He also grew up with a lot of animals, and so did I. But the only difference is that animals weren’t allowed in our home growing up. Thankfully, having pets hasn’t been an issue for us, although our 4-year-old has been asking for a cat.
My husband and I are generally on the same page with everything. However, there are some things we don’t see eye to eye. As I’ve mentioned in my blog, he grew up in a household where race was never discussed. He initially didn’t see the need to speak to our daughter about race, but he later realized why that’s so important, especially with kids of color. Race is something that should not be ignored. Building a strong foundation is important when raising children and it starts with teaching them about their history.
What is your approach to raising mixed race kids? Are there aspects of raising multiracial children that you see as uniquely positive or challenging?
Being a multicultural family is extremely important. I want our children to know their Jamaican, American, Irish, and German sides. As the saying goes, you don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’re coming from. We don’t teach our kids to “pick a side,” but we do teach them to embrace all sides.
We teach our kids about their mixed background through telling stories, reading books, and even crafts. As a matter of fact, that’s how I came up with our Curly Hairstyle of the Week blog feature (link below). I remember my daughter crying because she wanted “straight hair.” She was barely 4-years-old at the time. So, I’ve been on a mission of teaching her to love her curls ever since.
One of my biggest concerns has been finding a school for our kids to attend. As I mentioned, we live in a diverse neighborhood. However, the school district is not. Moreover, the public school that she would attend gets failing grades. For the past few years we’ve researched different schools and our hard work has finally paid off. Our daughter will attend kindergarten in the fall and she’s super excited.
I know that there will be many more challenges ahead and we’re ready for whatever obstacles come our way.
Read more from Stacy-Ann:
- Check out her blog, Weather Anchor Mama, where she writes about “raising children to weather the storm” (and has possibly the best tagline ever).
- Parents of mixed kids will definitely enjoy the Curly Hairstyle of the Week feature on her site and the post “Biracial Parenting: Helping My Daughter Find Her Identity.”
- Stacy-Ann has a fun kids craft centered on Martin Luther King, Jr., and his message of inclusion and equality.