Getting equal time

by Helen

Our grandson married a woman of West Indian heritage and they now have a son. She comes from a huge family (both her mother and father are one 10 or 12 siblings) so there's a huge number of aunts and uncles and cousins.

Our side of the family is English/Scottish and because we are recent immigrants, the family is small.
On occasions such as the marriage (and the impending baptism) we feel completely overwhelmed by the huge number of people on the other side. To make matters worse my son's wife identifies very much as "black" and she is very interested in making her son keenly aware of the black side of his heritage while downplaying his "white" heritage.
Although my son is the sole breadwinner and pays all the bills, her parents are invited 4 times as often as we are and when they come back here, they stay for longer periods with her parents.

Thus our grandson is constantly exposed to the wife's ideas and those of her parents and sees us much less frequently. That is also a result of the wife organizing all the family events and travel son works very hard and he just doesn't have the time but leaves it to her...thus her family always has precedence.
My husband and I are very concerned that my son's wife does not really want our grandson to spend much time with us...She seems to want to ignore the fact that he is a bi-racial baby with a much stronger connection to Britain than he has to Africa (she herself only has a very distant connection to Africa).
Please...we need advice. This is eating away at both my husband and I.

Comments for Getting equal time

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Dec 27, 2009
The More Cultures, the Merrier!
by: IR Mom & Wife

I agree with the advice re: sitting down with your son and asking to see your grandchild more often. I think it's wonderful that you want to be more involved in your grandchild's life. Playing a greater part of his life will allow him to learn about your rich cultural heritage, in addition to learning about your daughter-in-law's culture and traditions.

However, there were a few things that occurred to me while reading your post. First, perhaps your daughter-in-law stresses her culture so much because black people and cultures are regarded very negatively quite frequently in this country, without much positivity in the mainstream media to counteract those images/beliefs. There appear to be a number of posts on this site about biracial children at some point rejecting the non-white aspect of who they are, despite positive reinforcement at home. It's not unreasonable to infer that it's from outside the media/other people, and that even with encouragement and parental love, such prejudice still hurts and must be addressed/overcome. Maybe your daughter-in-law is trying to build up pride and love for the cultural heritage that is more likely to be attacked. PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT the same as saying his British heritage should not be learned.

Second, is it reasonable to expect your non-British daughter-in-law to teach your grandson about your culture? By increasing the amount of time he spends with you, you'd be best suited to teach him. He can see he's inherited the best of both worlds.

Finally, your daughter-in-law's reticence may not stem from disregard of her child's white parent/heritage - she did, after all, marry your son and have a child with him! If she harbored such a dismissive attitude towards all cultures but her own, wouldn't she have married someone from her own culture/country? It may have more to do with what you may be transmitting in your interactions with her. For example, you speak about feeling "overwhelmed" at the wedding and baptism. You say, "even worse," she identifies as black. Why is that a negative? Is there something inherently "worse" about identifying as black? ... as opposed to, say, Scottish? Perhaps she does not extend herself to you as much because there appears to be a negative attitude toward her skin color/culture/race. Perhaps it makes her uncomfortable.

This can be an opportunity to get to know your daughter-in-law as a person, not a caricature, and for her to do the same with you. You each might find you have more in common than you thought! It could serve as a profound lesson for your grandchild: he will see people who look and sound different treating each other with respect while celebrating each others' differences.

Good luck!

Nov 04, 2009
Understanding Biracial Kids
by: Anonymous

My husband is white and I am Mexican and we have had many talks about how we will raise our biracial children. While it may feel like your daughter in law is pushing her own ideals I'm sure your son has had the same discussions that all biracial couples have when deciding how to raise their children.

Sit and talk with him. For all you know, he may have agreed to the way his wife is raising his child. But you could mention that you would like to see your grandchild more often. Just remember to be respectful to your son's and daughter in law's wishes because it is ultimately up to them how they teach their child about their heritage.

I have to say that it seems like you don't know your son's wife very well (i.e. referring to her as "the wife.") Try to understand where she is coming from. You may learn something and better understand why she is the way she is.

Aug 12, 2009
re: Getting equal time
by: Soon To Be Daddy

You have a right to visit with your grandchild, but you also are going to have to carefully skate on thin ice to make sure you get that. I don't agree that's it's completely up to the mom to decide how the child will be raised, your son has a say as well and it's through him you need to try to get your equal time. He must be the one to fight for that on your behalf.

I'm somewhat concerned about the tone of the original post. You state the child is being raised black, ignoring his white side. That seems to me to be a pretty lopsided observation in itself. Again, your son has to do his part to make his child appreciate both sides of his heritage.

I'm a Caucasian male and will have my first child born in a few months. The mother is Korean. We aren't married but are cooperative and good friends and committed to both giving our son all the love we can possibly smother on him without suffocating the poor tot. My father is a bit of the old school. In fact, at one point before I met the mother of my child my father actually had the gall to tell me "make sure your next girlfriend is white". The next girlfriend was, in fact, the first and only one that wasn't. Nice, eh? The fact is when I talk to my father, being in the rather awkward situation of my relationship to the mother he sometimes frightens me. He'll bring up things like full custody. A kid needs his mom, unless she was being abusive or unless she instigated a custody battle I would never do that to our son, primarily, and her secondly.

My dad can give me support and I love him and respect him for a lot of things, but he is not going to dictate how my son is raised. That's up to me and the mother. I want my son to be proud of his Korean heritage. I have a Rosetta Stone and am trying to learn a little Korean (the mother doesn't speak it very well herself). When the time comes I will learn to cook some traditional meals, and I will try to do fun little history games with him relative to his Korean culture. I really don't have much culture being white, I'm a mutt of various European genetics. To me the culture he'll get from me is mostly the American culture. Sports, music, food, model railroads, comic books ... you get the idea.

I suggest you sit down with your son and have a heart to heart talk about your concerns. You do have other options, but I won't even bother to mention them because the right thing to do is to work with your son to try to alleviate the concerns you have. Best of luck.

Editor's suggestion: This parenting book was written by a mother of biracial children and while the book is not specifically about raising multiracial kids, it shows how one mother raised her children to embrace the fullness of their racial heritage.

Aug 11, 2009
Equal Time
by: Anonymous

It is really up to mom to decide the ethinicity of her child and how he will be raised. Maybe the reason you don't get to see him is that you will attempt to teach him something that is different from his own mom's values. If she wants her child to be black, then so be it.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Parenting Biracial Kids.