Post # 1
I am of mixed race (Afroamerican and Caucasian) and married to a Caucasian man. We have a five year old child who looks very much like him colorwise. She is blond and blue eyed and you can’t see she is mixed race at all. She is having difficulties with the way I look and it has been going on for about two years now. She doesn’t like my dark hair and my dark eyes. She wants me to have blond hair and blue eyes – just like her. She loves me very much and I love her, but she thinks I look different from everyone around us. Where we live there are not many dark people and all the other blond girls have blond moms. And then I come… She is just a child and children can be conservative and want to fit in. So maybe that can explain it.
We have been talking about it a lot. Her father has said that he loves me and my colors just like he loves her colors. She has also noticed that in a lot of films and books the bad person is dark, so we try to avoid those kinds of stories and choose other films and books.
I only grew up with my caucasian side of the family and she might sense my unease to talk about the other side of the family (my father left us) and because my father is not present she drew the conclusion that dark people are bad (fortunately she doesn’t do that anymore). I have explained to her that all races are equal and that there are good people and bad people, but it is not related to color.
She is very close to me and she says she wants us to look the same. I think that she wants people to see that we belong together. On occasions people have asked me if she really is my child and once she overheard that and later she asked if I was still her mother even though I was dark.
I have tried to deal with this for a long time, but she is still sad about the way I look. I don’t know what to do or say anymore.
Please, if any of you have similar experiences or any advice I would love to hear them!
Post # 2
midsummer: Aww. Don’t worry. your daughter is in an inquisitive phase. Can you put together an album of your family story? So she can flip through the pages and see pictures of when you were pregnant, in the hospital, her as a baby etc? I Did this for my daughter she has blonde hair and I have dark hair, olive skin. She would always ask me why LOL! To this day, she keeps that album in her room and once in a while i’ll catch her looking at it..she’s 18!
Post # 3
Wow, that must be so hard to deal with. It sounds like you are handling it as well as could be expected though. Hopefully she will grow out of this stage sooner rather than later. Is it possible for you to spend some more time with people of other ethnicities? Going out to festivals, etc. and seeing more people might help her to realise that your family is nothing unusual.
Post # 4
midsummer: I am sorry you are finding this so tough. I was this child, wondering why my dad wasn’t the same colour as me, mum and my sister. What my thoughts came from was wanting to be more like my dad. I idolised him as a young child and I didn’t understand why I didn’t look like him. I even coloured my skin in with a brown marker to make me match.
I would say this is your child trying to work out why her family is different from everyone else’s (given what you have said about your neighbourhood) and about trying to identify with her mother. Little girls love their mother’s and she probably is confused to why she can’t be just like you.
Post # 5
Birdi: That is funny because I actually started making a photo book like that! Thanks for the advice. Great to her that your daughter still loves it! 🙂
Penang1885: Yes, that is a good idea and I have been thinking about spending time with people from different ethnic groups, but I just don’t know how to find these people and make friends with them. We do have some friends that are of mixed ethnicity, but the difference is not so great between the parents and their children. Me and my daughter are extremely different colorwise. We do see people of different ethnicity when we are walking around in the city and festivals etc is a good way to see different people. I hope she will grow out of this, but it has been going on for so long now. I think she is very sensitive. When I cut my hair she cried because I didn’t look the same.
j_jaye: Thanks for sharing your experience. I think that you are right. We are so close and she wants us to match so she wants me to look like her. I am finding it difficult because I feel she is suffering from this. Once my daughter said she wished her preschool teacher was her mother because she is blond. I don’t doubt her love for me, I just don’t know how to make her feel good about this. My daughter’s situation reminds me of my own childhood cause I didn’t look like my mother and people thought I was adopted.
Post # 6
midsummer: Aw, that must be really hard for you. I’m 100% sure it’s just a phase, and she just wants you two to look the same because she loves you. My parents are different races, and when I was younger I had similar thoughts to your daughter because even though I grew up in an ethnically diverse area, there weren’t many mixed kids so it did seem a bit weird that I looked nothing like my mom. I grew out of it!
Post # 7
cece_intheuk: I hope your are right and I am glad to hear you grew out of it. Hopefully my daughter will too! There were not many mixed children when I was growing up either. Today I see more mixed kids, but usually they look mixed and you can see colors from both parents. But my daughter is so extremely fair, her hair even has a touch of red in it. My husband was very blond as a child, but now he has brown hair so my daughter looks even fairer than him. I can see that my daughters features are similar to mine, but people tend to only see the colors.
People are very open-minded where we live, it is just not so diverse. I am always so happy when I see mixed couples IRL or on TV. I think that if my daughter saw more families like ours she would feel better about it.
Post # 8
i’m sorry you’re dealing with that – it must be tough. i would definitely explore books about adoption, diversity etc. i know she’s not adopted, and that you are a traditional family in some ways (mum, dad, child) but maybe reading books about kids who are adopted, have mixed race parents, same sex parents etc will open her eyes to see that families can look very different than mom, dad, child who all look alike.
also – regarding her colouring, kids change like crazy. my brother is 26 and has hair that is nearly black, but until he was about 6 he had white blond curly hair – you never know who she’ll end up looking like.
maybe there are some movies or children’s programs that would help? wasn’t there a disney princess movie recently with an african american princess? i would emphasize the beauty in other races – ie isn’t this woman’s skin beautiful? i love her hair/eyes etc – it may take a while, but i bet she’ll start agreeing with you and hopefully learn to be happy with your differences. 🙂
Post # 9
peonyinlove: Thanks for the advice! I have tried movies where the hero is dark and she loves those movies, but so far it has had no impact on her feelings regarding my looks – even though she and her siblings think I look like Pocahontas and that their father looks like John Smith :-). We are trying to show different kinds of beauty and also telling her how beautiful she is with her big blue eyes and long blond hair.
I will definately look for some books about adoption etc. If you – or anyone else – know of a good book or film about mixed race children, please let me know!
Post # 10
midsummer: I come from an all caucasian family, but my immediate family all has dark hair, dark eyes, tans easily etc, except for my sister who has light eyes, blonde curly hair and burns if she looks at the sun. She was convinced for a long time that she didn’t belong in the family until she saw pictures of her grandmother (who is deceased) with whom she looks almost identical. Children are funny, they respond to visual things and ask very direct questions, they don’t understand that the questions can hurt your feelings. She loves you, all you can do is answer her questions and support her curiosity 🙂
Post # 11
midsummer: maybe look for families that also have children that naturally look different than their paretns – Heidi Klum and Seal had a few kids and if I remember correctly they all look very different and have different colouring. If she sees more real life examples of children who don’t look like mommy or daddy it might help?
Post # 12
Girl Step 1 is stop calling them “dark people” refer to them their ethnicity or call them black (I am african-american and its ok to call another african-american “black”) . step 2 The next thing is to get her some children’s books that celebrate different skin colors/diversity amazon.com has an amazing selection. step. 3 find some playgrounds in your city (where do you live by the way?) where you see black kids/ or ethnicially diverse kids playing and take your child there reguarly. when you kid is playing at this playground….making friends with the moms that are also there and ask where they take their kids to have fun (stores/ activities etc..)
step 3. enroll your child in after school activities in another school with a big ethinc diversity. step. 4 keep talking to your child about how being physically different is not bad and is actually a good thing. 5. limit your child’s interaction with too many blonde haired/blue eyed children ( if your child only has white friends then that could be influencing her to see “dark” people as bad/unwanted)
Post # 13
She is just trying to figure out how to make everything fit when it doesn’t seem to by standard stereotypes. Mind you, archetypes/stereotypes is how kids learn: long hair = girl, short hair = boy, for example. Then they meet a girl with short hair, and their minds are BLOWN. It’s part of the learning process, and she doesn’t realize it’s painful for you because she’s got kid logic: I want to be like mommy but mommy doesn’t look like me, WTF? She’ll figure it out :).
Personal story: my mother wore GIANT glasses when I was little, because it was the early 80s. One time she came to my bed in the middle of the night without them – you know, cause it was the middle of the night – and I refused her. Told her out right, “You are not my mother. My mother wears glasses.” and wouldn’t let her touch me until she put them on. See… kids.
Post # 14
MsGinkgo: Good idea! I’ll try to find real life exemples.
Honey2002: Sorry, English is not my mothertongue I am just nervous not to step on anyones toes and I didn’t know if I dared to say “black” and “white”. When you point it out I realize “dark people” might not sound too positive. Sorry about that. I was just trying to find a term that included people of different ethnic background that were not white people. We don’t talk about “dark people” at home, I promise 🙂 You have great suggestions, thanks! The problem is that my child only has white friends (most of them blue eyed and blond). She doesn’t have any black friends and there are no after school activities close by with big ethnic diversity. If I go to a playground there might be a few children with different ethnicity. I would love for us to be friends with people from different countries and ethnicity, but most people here are white. (We don’t live in the States.) That is part of the problem. She knows her grandfather is black and that I am mixed black and white, but unfortunately she doesn’t know any black people.
Post # 15
CraftyBelka: That is a funny story! 🙂
You are right, they are trying to learn how everything works and want to catagorize people. I am just very different in our specific part of the world. White people is the norm to here and I don’t fit in.