The conversation took place way back in my Bible college days, but for some reason it stuck with me.  I was playing table tennis with a guy friend of mine, like we did most days, when we weren’t in class or playing euchre.  And like most days, we talked as we rallied back and forth, the lightweight plastic ball a picture of our conversation.  It would usually alter between lazy, nonchalant flicks of the wrist to the more serious, intentional points.

And one day, I don’t remember how we got on the topic, but we started talking about race.  Specifically mixed race marriage.  And then, as we tapped the white ball back and forth, my friend said this: “I might consider marrying a girl of a different race, but I don’t think I could do that to my kids.”

I challenged him, as I did in most of our discussions, and hit the ball back over the net: “What do you mean?”

“Well, if I married a woman of a different skin color, that would be her choice, but the kids wouldn’t have a say in it.  They would just be stuck in the situation, and it wouldn’t be fair to them.”

My friend went on to explain that the kids might get teased or ridiculed, or feel out of place having parents who didn’t look the same.  They might struggle with identity issues as they grew up, and feel like they didn’t belong.

I have to say that I don’t hold this conversation against my friend.  At all.  We were young then, and both thought we knew everything.  Shucks, neither of us had yet made it out of our teens.

But it does make me wonder if it’s this kind of thinking that plants the seeds which grow into uncontrollable weeds like the sad, sad situation in Ferguson.  If it’s not these kind of notions that cause worldviews to form, stereotypes to be shaped, racism and biases to emerge.

And I wondered, nearly fifteen years after that conversation, if my friend thinks I’ve done my children a disservice by marrying a black man.  If he thinks giving them a biracial identity is not fair to them.

So I asked him.  I sent him a rough draft of this post, and we bounced the virtual ping pong ball back and forth over the net.

He said he remembered the conversation, and even agreed that he’s a good example of “dumb things said.”

He pointed out that at the time, his 19-year-old self naively held the view that one of the greatest goals of parenting is to make life easy for children.  Now that he’s a dad, he knows that making life easy for kids shouldn’t be a parent’s ultimate goal, even though children obviously ought to be protected.

But what about those who do think having children of a different skin color would just make life too challenging?  Too complicated?  Too awkward?

What about those hopeful adoptive parents who are faced with a jillion questions on the adoption application, and have to tick certain boxes regarding racial background of potential children?

What should they choose?

I’m not implying that white parents should never choose to adopt white children.  Where there is a need, we should be ready with open arms to love any child the Lord gives us.  But I am posing the question of priorities and motives.

Is it possible, that in some cases, our desire for comfort trumps our desire to show Christ?  I know it often does for me.

As a white mom of biracial children, I’ve been on the receiving end of a fair number of awkward comments, however well-intentioned.  And I anticipate many more to come, as well as the potential conversations I may have with my kids as they get older and wrestle with their own identity.

 

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But by raising my kids in an environment where the people who filter through our home cover a wide range across the color spectrum, my hope is that they’ll learn by experience that one’s identity is not wrapped up in the external.  That it’s not defined by the shade of brown infused in our skin.

And my prayer is that as my children grow up, they will be so firmly rooted in their identity in Christ Jesus that they’ll never question whether they belong, because knowing that they belong to Him will be more than enough.

 

Related posts:

I’m a White Girl from Michigan, and I’m #GoingThere

A Screwtape Letter on Racial Diversity

 

 

8 thoughts on “should parents have children of a different skin color?

  1. Kate- it’s obvious that God placed you with your husband, in your home, and in the middle of those beautiful children for such a time as this. Thank you for raising your young ones to find their identify in Christ alone. And what a blessing to grow up in home like this: “the people who filter through our home cover a wide range across the color spectrum, my hope is that they’ll learn by experience that one’s identity is not wrapped up in the external.” And like your friend said… maybe not easy, but a blessing nonetheless. With more children with this experience, the world just might have a hope of change. Beautiful message. Perfectly written, once again.

    • Wow, thank you for that encouragement, Karen! You are too kind. It’s all by the grace of God, that is for sure! Thank you for your ongoing presence and sweet words. Blessings on your week!

  2. Kate, this is a most beautiful post. We truly have so much to learn, don’t we, about God’s love for all people. Our identity is never wrapped up in our skin color but only in the color which flowed from the Cross, red. May your prayer for your children be the cry of each of our hearts – that we would”know our identity in Christ Jesus that they’ll never question whether they belong, because knowing that they belong to Him will be more than enough.” Grateful to have read this today!

  3. I just loved this post, especially your prayer for your own children: “..That they be so firmly rooted in their identity in Christ Jesus that they’ll never question whether they belong, because knowing that they belong to Him will be more than enough.” This is what it’s all about, and would be a beautiful prayer for every child. I absolutely admire your courage to speak out on this subject and just know that your children will look back and be so proud of their mom for making a difference in this world. Thank you for sharing!

  4. I love that last sentence: “…knowing that they belong to Him will be more than enough.” If we could all just truly believe this about ourselves as well as others it would solve so many of the problems in this world.

  5. My fourteen year old last week said she is proud do who she is – proud that she is a mixture of two cultures and races. We have never encouraged her to think bad about herself – and I tell her to think of herself as a person and not in terms of her race. It makes me happy to see that she is comfortable in her skin – even though it is a combination of two skin tones.
    And as she says, she gets to eat two kinds of food at home 🙂

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