**DISCLAIMER: This post is not meant to offend or hurt anyone – it is simply to shine a light on how things may be perceived.**
When people use the phrase “Love is blind” I’m not ever sure they really mean it when they talk about relationships. Maybe they do. I mean, I’m married to a Peruvian man and honestly that’s the last thing I think about when I see him. There are certain things though that come with being in a bi-racial relationship. In case you haven’t figured it out yet – I’m a caucasian, american woman. I grew up in a white town in the middle of Midwest America. The song “Welcome to New York” by Taylor Swift was exact in how I felt when I moved away.
Ok so back to bi-racial relationships! While they aren’t as abnormal anymore as when “Loving vs. Virginia” took place – they are still pretty unusual. Here’s the thing – where I grew up it was, and still is on some level, taboo. When I’m home and go through the town I grew up with my husband – we get weird looks, comments that are double-edged, and the weirdest questions. So for the those of you who are looking for some insight – here we go:
- Cultural assimilation? This is what I mean by assimilation, One person adapting the culture of another place or person’s heritage until they are a new version of that item. A great version of this is Hip-Hop/Rap; originally written by African-Americans in the “hood” as an outlet of the way they were treated/put down/felt. assimilation – Enter Mackelmore or Eminem. Now please – I love their music but they are great examples of assimulation. Another version is Tacos – yea that yummy food – happens every Tuesday night for me…. Real tacos do NOT look like that! They don’t have cheese and olives. America has taken the Taco and assimilated it to be what we want. Assimulation is defined as taking something and changing it to be similar to what it was origionally but changing it. When you are a relationship with a person that is a different race – get ready for assimulation. You and that person will become your own culture. It’s going to be different from what you grew up with. There is nothing bad in this – hold to certain traditions but some need to grow and change.
- Ignorant Questions – Ok, I HATE ignorant questions. By default I’m not the most patient person. I never have been, but ignorant questions irritate me to an extreme. Some of my favorites are about how I’m being treated because of a stereotype the person has seen on TV relating to Latino men. The other one I love is that when people assume that one country of South America is the same as another. IT IS NOT. Chile, Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, and Brazil – they all have very different cultures, holidays, traditions, dress, and even languages! My husband is from Peru – his roommate when we married was from Honduras, while they both speak Spanish, they both have different slang. It is similar to someone being from Northern United States and going to the Deep South United States. They have a different way of talking and celebrating holidays. Think Sweet Tea, Southern Draws, and Pecan Pie. Do NOT assume that just because someone speaks Spanish they are all from Mexico – its offensive. And just because you watched Spanglish or Fast and Furious that doesn’t make you an expert on Latino culture. If you have a friend who is in a bi-racial relationship, don’t ask offensive questions – google it!
- Colorism – I mention this because it’s a real thing. Even if you don’t have colorism tendencies (I applaud you because everyone does – now time to come out of the world of denial), get ready to see everyone elses. Like I said, my husband and I get dirty looks walking down streets in certain areas of the United States. We ignore and cope. But I can safely say that I have heard some horrible things regarding race/colorism from those around me that I have respect for. I also know that many cultures/subcultures have colorism tendencies. I see it when I speak with my extended family. It’s common and extremely “normal”. Here’s a bit of advice – choose your battles. If you don’t agree with it – like I don’t, understand this, you will not change the culture over night. In fact it might never change. You can try to tell your family where they have gone wrong – I encourage you to do it gently, but you may not even change them. It’s ok. You aren’t alone. Just take a deep breath and remember to focus on continuing to change what you can. Let the rest go.
Here’s the final things to remember. Relationships are hard. Being in a bi-racial brings in new issues. Sometimes its communication, culture, other people’s ignorant actions that bring hurt. If you are in a relationship like this – I hope I helped you a bit. I would love your feedback. If you have a friend who is in a bi-racial relationship – I hope I gave you some insight into what they see and experience on a daily basis. Now you know why they get offended over “little issues”. Those “little issues” are the things that really affect their lives on a daily basis. At the end of the day just remember “Haters gonna Hate” Proverbs 5:8, sometimes people are going to disagree even if it’s something good for you.
I have to admit that while I don’t currently desire to have any children of my own, I do enjoy being a nanny. I watch two boys Monday – Friday and while they have great days most of the time, occasionally we have bad ones too. I’ve picked up a few useful tips on how to deal with these days because at 6 years and 9 years old, I can’t cope with the behavior the way I would out of an 2 or 3-year-old. Both boys have different disabilities and it makes dealing with the behavior an interesting maze of actions and reactions.
- Listen – Sometimes all they really just need me to do is listen to what they are saying and sympathize with them about it. A lot of the time I don’t even have to say anything. Sometimes they talk about school or their dreams of becoming a motocross star or game system creator, but other times they talk about food they like or how rough their day was. No matter what they talk about, I try to listen and sympathize.
- Consistency People really underestimate how much children need consistency, especially kids with disabilities. It gives them something dependable in their life. I try to always have dinner ready at 5pm. We always do homework at a specific time. Things like this make it easier for them to anticipate what I’m going to ask them to do and it makes it easier for me when I have to tell them what to do.
- Discipline – I am never going to tell you to physically discipline someone elses child. I would never do that myself. When I talk about discipline I am referring to actions and consequences. Allowing children to grow up in a world without consequences does nothing for their moral compass or for their ability to learn about responsibility. Example: The 6-year-old that I nanny decided he would try to deceive me yesterday and not come do homework when I told him to. He likes to come home and watch Minecraft videos on YouTube. Normally, I let him finish his video before doing his homework – it’s annoying as an adult to be interrupted from a video, so I imagine as a child it’s harder to focus. Today, however, when I picked him up from school he came in and asked me where his Ipad was – I told him “You tried to decieve me and not be responsible yesterday. The consequence is that you lose the right to decide when we are going to do homework until I see responsibility again. We are going to do homework right now.” He was less than pleased to say the least. However, now he knows that he can’t do that.
- Find Something Special – As a nanny, you have to know when to have fun. You also need to know when to find something that can be special for you and the kids. While consistency is awesome and very necessary, on the really bad days (most of the time it’s because it was a bad day at school) I do something a bit different. We’ve made cookies, french toast for dinner, roasted s’mores over candles, and decided on a small party for christmas.
- Teach Independence – This doubles with discipline as they have to learn to do things on their own. The 9-year-old is my best example – each day I pick him up from school and we talk about what homework he has for the day and what is due for the week. He has 1 book report each week so he can have special privileges at school on Friday. I might ask him each day if he wants to do it but I tell him “It’s due on Thursday, so you decide what day you will do it and which works best for you.” I also tell him that he has to do his homework before dinner and shower after dinner. He has the capability of choosing what time he does those and by the time I leave each night – he has them done. This allows him moderate responsibility and teaches him to be independent and rely on me and his mother less. I find this to be very important especially when they are young because the world is not going to remind you of what you need to do when and your mom will not want to take care of her adult son. For the younger boy this might look like me telling him to take a shower and wash his hair – I choose the time but he does it himself.
Overall, I try to have fun as a nanny. We joke and laugh and have a good time, but at the end of the day – their parents are paying me to not only take care of the boys but also to give them life skills. I honestly believe that each of these tips helps me be a better nanny and helps the boys grow. Being a nanny can be like a dictatorship but most of the time it’s really more like a democracy and a bit of give and take.
Now I’m no expert. I’m not a therapist but I’ve been told I give decent advice with relationships. Part of that being so many mistakes I’ve made and would love to not see repeated in others lives and the other half just listening and being objective. It’s hard to do that in relationships and even more so when it pertains to family. Holidays are no exceptions. Emotions run high and everyone just wants so desperately to get along that it makes it hard to relax and really enjoy.
That being said I have a few tips to help you enjoy the holidays a bit more. These are all tips that I have learned over the years and that have really helped me relax a bit more.
- Let It Go – I know that sounds a bit “Disney Princess” of me but it’s so true. There are many things in life that you can’t control and family is among them. That being said – pick what you can control (ie. Your own attitude). Make the concious decision to relax and refuse to let little petty things ruin your holiday. Who cares what someone else said about another person?! It doesn’t need room in your head.
- Take Time For You – You do not always have to be around everyone. Take 1 hour maybe 2 and relax in your own way. I find that going for a walk or leaving for a coffee shop with a good book is the best way to relax. It gives me space and something new to see with nothing to hear. Distance can be healthy and it can be helpful. It will help you decompress and maybe in advertently help them. Think about this – you spend over 200 days of the year living your own life and then when the holidays come around you have to bring new people in. It’s stressful and tense because you aren’t used to having them around. Take time for you, it’s your holiday too.
- Set Boundaries You Can Stick To – Never say you can or cannot do something if you aren’t going to stick to it. All that will do is let them know that boundaries are flexible and that you don’t mean what you say. It will also make you feel like you are being pushed around or can’t keep up. If you say you need 1 hour – take 1 hour. If you say you are leaving at 2pm – do not let them manipulate you into staying longer. Sure family is important but so are you and you will feel better for sticking to your guns.
- Hygge- My readers are going to get sick of this, but seriously – Hygge. Get up 30 min early and take time to read a book and have a little time to yourself before the holiday “day time” with family starts. You need time to wake up before you have to hit the ground running and your family will thank you for it. Take time at the end of the night – make a cup of cocoa and go sit in bed reading to relax. Don’t feel like you need to spend every waking moment surrounded by noise and family.
- Not Your Problem – This is a new concept that I’m still learning from my in-laws. It is taht while you feel bad for something that has happened or hasn’t gone right in another persons life – you are not the solution. Listen to them if you feel like it’s necessary and offer advice if you like. It’s ok to help and it’s ok to feel sympathy but you don’t have to be the savior. I recently experienced the freedom of what it means to say “No” because someone else made a bad decision and you don’t have the emotional capacity to be a savior. Make sure you do it nicely but don’t feel like you have to do something.
In total here’s what I recommend and am learning to do myself. Take time for me – 2 times, each day when I’m with family for extended periods. Realize that I’m not the savior so I can say “No” and set that boundary. I can also stick to it and at the same time realize that their bad attitude towards not getting their way isn’t something I can control. I will not let it affect my holiday and my attitude though.
Navigating holidays and family isn’t easy. I won’t guarentee that these 5 tips are going to solve all your problems, but they do help you. Any suggestions or things you have found to work? I would love to hear them.