I was a fat kid growing up but oblivious to it until an adult told me. The children I played with at school or at home didn’t see my size, they saw me, Yvonne. Children are not born with prejudices; it is we adults who pass our prejudices onto them.
On Christmas Day, one of my daughters told me she had been the victim of some gossip at school. A white girl in her class had told two other white girls that black people are aliens so they mustn’t look at my daughter or play with her. The other two girls told my daughter about this statement and reassured her that they’d play with her.
As a mum, my first reaction was to immediately write a complain letter to the school. Since I know the girl involved, I was tempted to go to her house and have it out with her and her parents. But I didn’t. I cried.
I cried for two reasons. 1) I was hurt that when I asked her why she didn’t tell me sooner, she said, “I didn’t want you to make a fuss like you always do.” 2) I felt the world was beginning to judge her by her skin colour at a young age. 3) In a strange way, I pitied the girl who had made the statements.
John and I talked about whether we should get the school involved, but decided against it. Why? We recognise that our daughters will face prejudices because of their skin and gender. And since we’ll not always be there to fight these battles for them, our job is to reassure and equip them with the tools to help them deal with it. We also figured out that the school can try to change the way the girl involved sees the world, but they can’t change the way her parents see the people who are different to them.
If your daughter has told you something similar to this, whether it’s about her weight, the colour of her hair, the colour of her skin, her nervous ticks… and the list goes on; these are my suggestions on how to deal with such issues.
- Listen and show you understand.
- Ask questions on how she feels about what makes her stand out. In my daughter’s case, I asked how she feels about being mixed race.
- Let her know that it’s fabulous to be different. For my daughter, I shared stories of famous people like Lady Gaga, Oprah Winfrey, and Gabourey Sidibe to emphasize my point.
- Show them how to be comfortable in their skin by being comfortable in yours. (I’m still struggling with this myself)
- Parents are their children’s greatest role models; what we say about other people’s differences is how they’ll see that difference
- From when my daughters were very young, I’ve always told them how and why they are special. I tell them that before they were even conceived, we prayed and asked specifically for them. And we got the daughters we prayed for and that is special.
- Finally, teach them that what others think of them is none of their business.
Have you ever faced an issue like this, and how did you deal with it?
Yvonne xxxDid you enjoy this post? If so please support us: like, share and comment!