What happens when you’re in an interracial relationship and your mate has a child from a prior non-interracial relationship? Will the kid accept you? Will you feel strange in public knowing that people can tell the child isn’t yours? Will it somehow affect how you parent the child? Will you be less accepting of the child? Will you have drama with the other parent – especially if they’re a racist? Our inquiring minds want to know!
All of these are excellent questions to ponder and some that friends of BlindCupids named “Alex” and “Jessica” encountered last year. Their story inspires this blog post about how to raise non-biracial kids when you’re in an interracial relationship. Alex, a black male, had been in a serious relationship with Jessica, a white female, for about two years when the couple decided to move in together. They were headed toward marriage after Alex proposed so they thought it would make sense to move in together to save money for the wedding.
Jessica had a 9-year old boy and a 12 year old son by a white man from her first marriage. Jessica’s kids liked Alex and he felt comfortable around them while the two were dating, but as we all know, things can sometimes change in a relationship when addresses change. ”Dan”, Jessica’s ex-husband, was never really a fan of Alex because he’d grown up in a very color-conscious family … the kind that still referred to black people as ‘colored’ and abhorred interracial dating. Dan wasn’t necessarily a blatant racist but he didn’t have any problems expressing his disdain for his ex-wife’s new beau. When they were just dating it wasn’t as much of an issue, but when Jessica and Alex moved in together Dan took exception to the living arrangement. Unfortunately, he put his impressionable children in the middle and tried to shape their opinions of Alex.
A few months into the new arrangement, Jessica’s son stopped wanting to go to the park to play baseball with Alex and her daughter scoffed at him picking her up from school. Alex and Jessica knew exactly what was going on and decided to confront Dan about it. The conversation was not a good one – as Dan became indignant and Alex decided that it wasn’t worth it to push the issue. He and Jessica knew that they would just have to figure out how to remedy the situation despite constant fuel to the fire from Dan.
The most important thing that they did was to not change what they were doing. Alex knew that if he gave in and changed how he tried to interact with the kids it would prove Dan’s efforts successful and also make him lose credibility with the kids. Instead, he decided to continue doing everything he’d previously done with them. He also had a long, one-on-one, conversation with Dan. It wasn’t confrontational because Alex framed it in terms of the kids and explained to Dan that he didn’t want to replace him as their father. He implored Dan to not make things complicated for the children. Dan heard Alex out and decided that, although he didn’t like the arrangement, he would try to be more amicable and, most importantly, he would let the kids form their own opinions.
Eventually, the situation with Dan got better. However, that didn’t mean that Alex didn’t have some other challenges to get through. And, surprisingly, many of those actually set in after they became married. For example, Jessica’s son broke his wrist during a football game and Alex took him to the Emergency Room. Jessica was out of town on business. When you raise children, whether they’re your biological ones or not, you form an incredible bond to the point where you can sometimes forget that you’re in a blended family. Until someone points it out to to you. Then, it’s hard not to forget it sometimes. In the exam room, the doctor, looking around inquisitively, finally asked Alex “are you the coach?” That bothered Alex so he shot a dirty look to the doctor, which made him inquire differently “or the guardian?” Alex got his composure and said politely, “No, I’m his stepfather” and watched as the doctor turned bright red and uttered a familiar phrase “Oh, I’m sorry!”
Alex was well aware that this type of mistake wouldn’t be made nearly as often, if at all, if his step children were black. But instead of focusing on that fact, he chose to shift his thinking to figure out how he could better educate people. To that degree, he and the kids eventually figured out ways to nip that kind of stuff in the bud. The best example, that also showed how their relationship had grown over the years, was when Alex had to take his step-daughter to shop for her homecoming dress. Again, Jessica had been tied up and asked Alex to handle it since the clock was ticking. In a real show of maturity and class, Alex deferred to Dan and asked if he wanted to do the honors. Dan was unable until a few days later, so he handed the task back to Alex. At the dress shop, there were definitely stares and confused looks from the salespeople when they walked in and started looking around. She shuffled quickly to a rack across the store, and just picking up the first dress she saw, called out loudly “Hey, Dad, what do you think about this one?”
With a broad smile, Alex winked at her and came over to help her sort through the selection. The salespeople didn’t have to ask any awkward questions or make any dumb assumptions and, best of all, it was a way for Alex and his daughter to show off their unique family ties to everyone.
Well done, family! Well, done. - Cupid out.