Families of Color Seattle offers a variety of parenting groups with several new additions this summer. Photo credit: Carina A. del Rosario
Preparing for parenthood is scary enough, but where do you turn when ethnic or racial identity markers could amplify feelings of exclusion?
Local organization Families of Color Seattle (FOCS), pronounced "folks," offers one solution: Affinity Parent Groups. Introduced in May 2015, the city-wide groups attract parents based on a shared experience, be it through race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, civil status or parenting status.
The groups — which range from Parents of Kids with Disabilities to Single Moms — have expanded this year to include a Black Moms Affinity Parent Group (started June 1), a Transracial Adoptive and Foster Care Families Group (July 15) and a Native Moms Group (scheduled to start this fall).
The goal? Address issues specific to that affinity group in a safe space led by carefully selected facilitators, says Christine Tang, FOCS director of programs.
The idea of the Affinity Parent Groups started thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement. Black mothers in Seattle involved in FOCS were interested in a more specific group. “It was based on a need in a community,” Tang says.
Being intentional in creating space for conversations about race, equity and parenting is what we need to have honest dialogue and learn, she adds. This is important, particularly in a city such as Seattle where 69.2 percent of residents are white.
Providing a space for families with shared experiences has been relevant and transformative, say participants. “Our programs affirm a feeling of normalcy [so that] you don’t feel like the exception or the other,” says Tang.
“This work matters,” a participant from the FOCS Multiracial Affinity Group commented in a recent evaluation survey of the program. “It’s important to develop confidence and resolve surrounding conversations about racial identity in order to nurture and protect my child and my family.”
Other participants highlighted meaningful relationships that came out of joining an affinity group. “It met my expectations for connection, learning and friendship,” one member of the Black Moms Affinity Parent Group wrote in her evaluation.
Tang of FOCS welcomes ideas for new topics or groups (email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org). To learn more about which Affinity Groups are available and when they’re enrolling, visit focseattle.org/parentgroups.