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DS' friend said an icky thing

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
and I'm not sure how to react. DS' dad is from Kenya and has very dark skin. DS is much lighter than his dad but very clearly AA. His best friend is white. He's a terrific kid and spends a lot of time here. Today DS told me that BF said DS' dad is gross and looks like he is made of dirt. DS seemed to be laughing it off. I'm not sure how to respond. I don't want to blow it out of proportion, but I want to be clear that it's not okay to call people names based on how we look. Also wondering if I should say something to BF's mom. She's nice enough although we are not friends, just aquaintances.
Please help, mamas. Any advice?
post #2 of 15
I think your initial idea is good - telling your son a great comeback about how it is not nice to call people names based on the color of their skin, hair, etc.

I'd mention to the Mom in passing that your son had heard it from her son, if you can figure a way to say it in a non-accusatory way. Maybe this kid hears horrid stuff at home, but equally possible is that he thought this up himself and is testing the adults around him as a way to learn societal limits on things and a calm, clear, loving reaction from adults that teaches can do wonders in either situation.
post #3 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by PattyCakes_726 View Post
and I'm not sure how to react. DS' dad is from Kenya and has very dark skin. DS is much lighter than his dad but very clearly AA. His best friend is white. He's a terrific kid and spends a lot of time here. Today DS told me that BF said DS' dad is gross and looks like he is made of dirt. DS seemed to be laughing it off. I'm not sure how to respond. I don't want to blow it out of proportion, but I want to be clear that it's not okay to call people names based on how we look. Also wondering if I should say something to BF's mom. She's nice enough although we are not friends, just aquaintances.
Please help, mamas. Any advice?
How old are the children? Did you ask your ds if it hurt his feelings? I would have a conversation with him about how the comments made him feel. I would also let him know how to respond when people say hurtful things. Good luck mama!
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by purplegirl View Post
How old are the children? Did you ask your ds if it hurt his feelings? I would have a conversation with him about how the comments made him feel. I would also let him know how to respond when people say hurtful things. Good luck mama!
They are both 6, and he's a really nice kid usually. He and DS are joined at the hip and have lots of playdates.
DS seems to laugh it off at first, but he's had issues about his skin color for a couple of years and has just seemed to feel better about himself in the past few months. I did talk to him a little about how calling names is wrong, and his dad is beautiful, and he's beautiful. I didn't say too much yet, because I'm really upset and want to calm down and think about it more.
Thanks for your help!
post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by PattyCakes_726 View Post
They are both 6, and he's a really nice kid usually. He and DS are joined at the hip and have lots of playdates.
DS seems to laugh it off at first, but he's had issues about his skin color for a couple of years and has just seemed to feel better about himself in the past few months. I did talk to him a little about how calling names is wrong, and his dad is beautiful, and he's beautiful. I didn't say too much yet, because I'm really upset and want to calm down and think about it more.
Thanks for your help!
for you and your ds. It is possible the little guy's comments had nothing to do with skin color, but if your ds interpreted them that way, it is a problem. However, you are reinforcing appropriately that name calling is wrong and I love what you said to him-- that he and his dad are beautiful!

ETA: there is a great book called "Shades of Black". It subtly reinforces that all shades are beautiful. It would be good to have for your little guy.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KailuaMamatoMaya View Post
I think your initial idea is good - telling your son a great comeback about how it is not nice to call people names based on the color of their skin, hair, etc.

I'd mention to the Mom in passing that your son had heard it from her son, if you can figure a way to say it in a non-accusatory way. Maybe this kid hears horrid stuff at home, but equally possible is that he thought this up himself and is testing the adults around him as a way to learn societal limits on things and a calm, clear, loving reaction from adults that teaches can do wonders in either situation.
Yeah, I need to be totally calm when I mention it to her - I don't want to make things worse - but I'd want to know if DS were saying hurtful things.

OT - I love Ender's Game! Great book.
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by purplegirl View Post
for you and your ds. It is possible the little guy's comments had nothing to do with skin color, but if your ds interpreted them that way, it is a problem. However, you are reinforcing appropriately that name calling is wrong and I love what you said to him-- that he and his dad are beautiful!

ETA: there is a great book called "Shades of Black". It subtly reinforces that all shades are beautiful. It would be good to have for your little guy.
Thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out. We have "Black is Brown is Tan" which we both like a lot.
post #8 of 15
I also wondered whether the comments were meant to be hurtful, based on their age, or if they were just an uncensored observation from a 6-year-old's point of view, especially if he doesn't get to see people with very dark skin anywhere else. Either way, it sounds like an excellent opportunity for a teaching moment for both your ds and his bf. Maybe you can all read the book together next time bf visits.
post #9 of 15
Just checking here, but...

Are you sure when he said "DS' dad is gross and looks like he is made of dirt" he was refering to skin color? If say your DH had just come in from doing yard work then he might be all sweaty and covered in grass clippings and dirt, then (though his comment would still be impolite) it really isn't a big deal.
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eepster View Post
Just checking here, but...

Are you sure when he said "DS' dad is gross and looks like he is made of dirt" he was refering to skin color? If say your DH had just come in from doing yard work then he might be all sweaty and covered in grass clippings and dirt, then (though his comment would still be impolite) it really isn't a big deal.
The only time he met DS' dad, he was wearing a suit. That being said, I can't be 100% sure he was referring to skin color, though it seems likely.
post #11 of 15
At six it *might* not be as it sounds. They have a limited vocabulary. Gross might mean something like "strange". And I know a couple of dark-skinned folks who've been told they look like chocolate. Kids notice a lot, but have limited ways of expressing it.
Maybe it wasn't meant to be hurtful, but I'd still talk to the parents.
post #12 of 15
When my daughter out of the blue one day told me she didn't like how dark her skin is (she's half-Vietnamese) I told her it is because her skin has more melanin in it than white skin, which is a good thing because it protects her skin from the sun and she doesn't burn as easily as her fairer-skinned friends. She's loved her skin color ever since. Maybe explaining the science behind different skin colors can help your son have a comeback when he gets these kinds of comments.

If you talk to the bf's mom, I'd approach it no differently than if the boy said something like "your dad's nose is so big it looks gross". Although we react more strongly when kids comment on skin color than on other physical characteristics, probably to the kid it's all the same. He needs to know that such comments are hurtful, but this likely isn't a racial issue.
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by mntnmom View Post
At six it *might* not be as it sounds. They have a limited vocabulary. Gross might mean something like "strange". And I know a couple of dark-skinned folks who've been told they look like chocolate. Kids notice a lot, but have limited ways of expressing it.
Maybe it wasn't meant to be hurtful, but I'd still talk to the parents.
Most 6-year-olds have a pretty good grasp on "gross".

I'd think that he meant exactly what he said, but he's not at a point to realize how hurtful it was. Or even comprehend that it was hurtful.

His mom has got some work to do, and, yeah, you've got to say something to her if the boys are that close.
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Okay, I got a little more background on the conversation. Turns out DS was telling BF that his dad used to eat grasshoppers when he was growing up. That's what was 'gross'. Makes me glad I didn't jump all over it. The 'looks like dirt' comment could be just a childish observation. I'll just keep my ear to the ground for a while and see if I hear any more similar comments.
post #15 of 15
Glad to hear it wasn't as it sounded.
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