Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Conflicted

The kids are really self conscious lately about being brown. Marin always wears long warm ups (instead of gym shorts) to basketball and to indoor soccer. She says it is because she wants to cover her brown skin. I told her the kids can still see her face. Instead of helping her understand how irrational she was, it just bummed her out. Then I felt even worse.

Last night Emmy and I were snuggling before she went to bed. She pulled my head under the covers with her and whispered " I don't like my brown skin. When I go back to school I am going to cover my whole face with a white permanent marker. "

We are constantly telling our kids how beautiful their skin is (it really is), and how much we love it (we really do), and we kiss them all the time and we tell them white people spend all their money going to tanning booths so they can have beautiful brown skin. It isn't working. Suggestions welcomed.

4 comments:

Katy said...

Not sure if you already do this, but we try to make sure that our kids spend time in places where they are not the only kids with brown skin. One way we do this is by going to an Ethiopian church on Sundays (okay, not every Sunday - but a lot). It's about a 30-40 minute ride. We now have friends there. People we see out of church. People with brown skin that my children know and like and can look up to as they grow up. I'm hoping this might help. My kids aren't as old as yours, and I'm so grateful for you and people like you who write about these issues and help the rest of us prepare. I love reading your blog. The funny posts are so funny and the sad ones are so so sad. Thanks for doing it.

Erin Starks-Teeter said...

You should read the book "Does Anyone Else Look Like Me?" by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. The Amazon blub makes it sound like it's only about bi-racial children, but it totally applies to your situation and addresses adopted children specifically. The book is very insightful. I found a copy at our public library.

Liz said...

I live in a pretty diverse area, but my family is very white. To counterbalance that, I try to make sure that Elfe sees as many positive reflections of herself as possible - she has brown baby dolls, lots of books with brown characters, we had brown angels and a brown Santa ornament on the tree this year, even a nativity figurine where Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus were brown. I'd like to get more artwork with brown faces on the walls of my house this year.

Hope you find some strategies that work for your girls.

Gwillem said...

Try and find out why they're saying these things. If their environment is the cause for these statements, you can acknowledge their feelings: "So you don't like your skin anymore because other children tease you about it. Hmm. That would make me really sad, too." Without solving the problem, that at least validates what they're feeling which will hopefully provide some comfort and confirm the trust that they place in you, maybe even encourage the sharing of more information / other feelings about the situation.