caucasian babies afraid of you - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 26 Old 11-18-2008, 09:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i have dark skin and v. asian features.

and i love babies.

so when i see a baby or toddler i always smile at them or make silly faces.

and some kids get really scared. they either cry or they hide behind their parents.

i first thought oh it was just them not being comfortable around strangers.

and then i looked back at all the incidents that happened and which babies cried and where - affluent caucasian babies (parents and child v. well dressed and in high end accessories) in a park in a v. affluent neighbourhood - and i realised they were reacting to my race.

i even talked about this with a friend of mine and even she came to the same conclusion. i am sure they have seen people of colour but i dont think they have ever interacted with them.

either that or i have a v. scary face to some babies and toddlers.

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#2 of 26 Old 11-18-2008, 10:13 PM
 
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Weird. Any chance they're kids going through a clingy phase and any adult who doesn't look *just* like mom or dad is going to be scary?
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#3 of 26 Old 11-18-2008, 10:33 PM
 
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I had this same thing happen when I lived in Africa, my skin is white and it scared A LOT of babies! It made me feel so bad! They just weren't use to seeing someone who looked like me!
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#4 of 26 Old 11-18-2008, 11:21 PM
 
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It's totally possible that some were reacting to your race and others were just at that clingy phase. For any given child, you'll have no way of knowing which is which. My dd from about 8 to 15 months would occasionally burst into tears if the "wrong" person tried to interact with her (no clue what made them "wrong" to her - but it wasn't consistent for any particular race, which would have been surprising anyway as we are a biracial family).
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#5 of 26 Old 11-18-2008, 11:31 PM
 
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Just a few thoughts. We live in China and my DH (Caucasian) teaches pre-school here. At the beginning of the school year there are always a few kids that are afraid of him but will readily go to the Chinese teachers. Our baby, on the other hand, loves everyone but is definitely more inclined to go to Chinese people as opposed to Caucasian people. She is especially wary of Caucasian men but will always clap at Chinese strangers. I think this is because she interacts more with Chinese people. She is nine months and so I think at this age it's just a matter or being more comfortable with those she interacts with more.
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#6 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 01:28 AM
 
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i cannot lie, i have often thought the same thing. but i think it is like a previous poster said. i think it is more that they react to us looking different than the people that they are accustomed to seeing.

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#7 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 01:36 AM
 
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hmmm.... I remember when my ds was small if he saw a non-caucasian person he would be intrigued, is that the right word? We live in a very non-diverse area and while we have friends of many ethnic backgrounds, alot of them are not close in physical proximity to us, so my kids don't see alot of people who look different from them regularly. I don't remember so much with my dd because I worked when she was small and she was with dh and my mom alot, but I have been a SAHM with ds. I remember one time we were in line and an elderly african-american gentleman put out his hand to play with ds and ds took his hand and began to explore it front and back. I didn't know what to say, he didn't seem offended, I sure hope he wasn't. I just didn't want him to be hurt by ds' intrigue. When he became vocal, he would ask about people he saw or met who looked different and then we could explain our differences in appearance better, but he was never afraid I would say. Just curious.....maybe they were clingy babies like pp said.... I have a dear friend whose ds cries everytime I try to touch him and he's VERY attached to momma. I can look but MAN if I try to touch him, HOLY COW!!IDK?
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#8 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 03:48 AM
 
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Well, when we met our son, we were the first caucasians he'd ever seen and he was terrified...poor baby. I think if babies are not around people that look differently than their regular caregivers that it is possible that those differences can be scary. On the other hand, my oldest daughter was terrified of ALL strangers from birth to age 3.

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#9 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 09:15 AM
 
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We were not at ALL affluent or well dressed.. but as a young child I was very sensitive to anything appearing "different." My dad was huge and had a big blond beard, fair skin blue eyes. He and my family were what I was used to. My grandfather had a massive white beard too, white hair and blue eyes. The first time all of us (sisters and I) met one of my uncles, a darker *caucasian black haired, black eyed, short and slender man we all cried. When my grandfather shaved his beard I refused to look at him for 2 weeks. I would stand behind a chair and talk to him without looking at his face. We were just sensitive to someone looking unfamiliar I guess. I also grew up in a town that only had 2 "black" families, so for a while when I was young darker people were fascinating when I saw them in real life. Not because I was thinking anything bad about them, they just weren't what I was used to seeing.
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#10 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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the reason why i mentioned affluent coz the city i live in is a v. v. diverse city. but if you go to the affluent areas there are hardly any people of any colour. even their au pairs are europeans. and so the children might have seen people of colour but not interacted with them.

yeah it could be the scary phase too.

i was mostly asking just to see if race could be a factor.

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#11 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 12:02 PM
 
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Hmm, I wonder if this would be something really specifically depending on the age of the baby. When my own dd was between the ages of 4 and 6 months of age, she was hospitalized for a long time for a serious illness. We live in a very small town in very rural Ontario, and sadly, there is a real lack of people of varying ethnicity here. In fact, almost EVERYONE is caucasian. However, despite her lack of experience with people who looked different from the same old caucasians she was accustomed to, when we were stuck into a big teaching hospital in a larger city, my daughter was absolutely THRILLED with all the residents, especially those whom were people of beautiful, varying, vibrant color. In fact, so noted was her apparent preference for darker skin, her primary doctor would often ask a resident (often one particular one, who I remember had the darkest skin I've ever seen, and a smile that could just break your heart... I wish I could remember his name...) to step in for an examination, as her fascination and delight with the resident's face would keep the baby from crying. It was neat to see her in all her innocence, before societal prejudices or misconceptions ever had a chance to taint her state of being, just totally embracing human diversity and even openly reveling in it...

Anyways, sorry if I've strayed a bit here, but that is my only real relevant experience. Maybe with older babies (especially ones who are already 'making strange'), the reaction is different. But I don't think babies are 'inherently' suspicious of people who look different from their parents.
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#12 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 12:13 PM
 
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Both of my kids are afraid of anyone who approaches THEM. If they start talking to someone randomly, it's fine, but if someone starts talking to or interacting with them they'll either give them the evil eye or start crying

I think it's an interesting point that if the kids are not used to seeing someone of color they might be (alot) more apprehensive just because it's something different. Babies so thrive on sameness, you know? Toddlers too... And I guess it makes sense if you think about it in historical/evolutionary/whatever terms for babies to be apprehensive (or scared) around things/people that are different because the baby wouldn't have the ability (yet) to tell if something new is harmful or not, so they rely on sameness... if that makes sense? Everyone in your tribe is likely to look like you, you know... and if they don't, you see them every day, so it's not "different" really. I hope that made sense.

ETA... it's just sad that there aren't more diverse communities, I guess. If that were the case this probably wouldn't be an issue... or at least not as much.

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#13 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 12:57 PM
 
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meemee: you sound like you are from Vancouver!

I had an AA friend who's baby was scared to death of really dark AA people. She could never figure that out!

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#14 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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gosh no kriket i am v. much from california. in a v. diverse city with pockets of not much diversity though. some cities nearby are not diverse at all.

this situation happened last week. i had gone to a party where everyone had their family with them. and there was this 8 month old little 'angel'. oh gosh she was soooooo sweet. big expressive eyes. big cheeks. she lives in a part of town that doesnt have much diversity. her parents are blue eyed blond. other moms not all caucasian but with light skin she was happily going to and cooing. then i make an appearance and her face just crumpled. she was afraid. so i kept my distance from her, but still within eye shot. then later i came and sat next to her mom and started chatting ignoring the baby. after we had been chatting for a while (mom and me on the floor, baby in carseat ) and then much later i again made eye contact and smiled at her and she did a little better with that. i never reached out to hold her.

its funny i have been blown away by how attracted my dd at 6 months was to anyone from an asian descent - esp. japanese. anyone having those features - any south east asian features and she would happily go to them. and now she loves japanese stuff - food, music, dance, language. funny eh?!!!

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#15 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 02:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Juvysen View Post
ETA... it's just sad that there aren't more diverse communities, I guess. If that were the case this probably wouldn't be an issue... or at least not as much.
its i think more than just diverse communities. it is more about interaction. who we mix with.

i definitely see their own thing - being afraid in general to strangers - but i definitely see a race thing too.

and i am making assumptions that they have at least 'seen' people of diverse colours. i mean i cant see how you cannot do that by age 6 months. i assume they have at least been to a grocery store by then. or even different parks or library events.

i have noticed they get scared when i am interacting. not when i ignoring them.

i have friends from all the races. and even as a baby while my dd didnt want to go to anyone and had stranger anxiety - she rarely reacted to race. she reacted to men with facial hair (her dad had facial hair at that time) and deep voices - no matter what the race was. even though she had men - intimate men - dad and gpa - with facial hair in her life.

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#16 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 02:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by meemee View Post
its i think more than just diverse communities. it is more about interaction. who we mix with.

i definitely see their own thing - being afraid in general to strangers - but i definitely see a race thing too.

and i am making assumptions that they have at least 'seen' people of diverse colours. i mean i cant see how you cannot do that by age 6 months. i assume they have at least been to a grocery store by then. or even different parks or library events.

i have noticed they get scared when i am interacting. not when i ignoring them.

i have friends from all the races. and even as a baby while my dd didnt want to go to anyone and had stranger anxiety - she rarely reacted to race. she reacted to men with facial hair (her dad had facial hair at that time) and deep voices - no matter what the race was. even though she had men - intimate men - dad and gpa - with facial hair in her life.
I wonder if they just interact with very few people of color? I know my area isn't real diverse and my dd rarely sees any people of color and usually not in a context where we're interacting... although (now she's almost 3) she was playing with an african american child who happened to be apple picking when we were... no fears whatsoever... but she's also a LOT more outgoing now and has always been far more outgoing with children... Not sure where I'm going with this, I guess, just thinking out loud. She's still really nervous around anyone who approaches her, though (other than kids).

BTW... My DD has the same issue w/men w/beards. Which kinda sucks because our pediatrician has a big beard.

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#17 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 02:48 PM
 
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I do think some babies get scared when they see faces they are not familiar with.

I am Asian and hubby is white, and DS attended a daycare with lots of Hispanic and black children, so I think he's pretty used to most ethnicities, so he doesn't react. As a matter of fact, he LOVES black women's faces. When black women approach him in public, he grins from ear to ear.

Oddly enough, he doesn't like old white men's faces. They scare him.
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#18 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 02:52 PM
 
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One of my DD's godparents is of Nigerian background. She hadn't seen her much (she lives in LA) and I remember one visit where LB was definitely scared of her, because, we all realised, she never saw people with skin that dark in her normal life.

She's over it now, of course. he he.

IT's very diverse here but mostly asian/middleeastern/indian/white, notsomuch people from Africa.

I"m sorry you're having this experience. We all felt kinda bad that LB was so nervous with her.
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#19 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 03:08 PM
 
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We live in a military community, so all my babes have been freaked out by guys with beards, until they actually got to touch a beard. It's really all about exposure.

My 5yr old still gets bashful and hides behind me anytime ANY guy talks to her, some kids are like that.

Someone else mentioned this one, but I had to add, my DH(white) scared a little Kenyan boy to tears because the poor kid though DH was horribly burned.

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#20 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 03:13 PM
 
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I agree with PPs that it has to do with what the babies are most used to and see most often. People who look like Mom and Dad are usually most comfortable IME, regardless of the race of the family members.

DS was a bit unsure about men with facial hair 6 months ago. Now DH has grown facial hair, and no surprise, but DS now goes to men with facial hair very happily. Although he also pulls on all their beards, so I guess it's still a little strange to him!

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#21 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 03:23 PM
 
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My son who is now 12 tasted the first African American person he ever met, he was just shy of three years old. And then said very loudly, and disappointedly..."not chocolate."


We lived on the Oregon coast at the time, with very little diversity. I brought him into work with me, and the executive chef was AA from Louisiana. Chef put his hand out, Isaac stared at it, and then decided to lick it.


I was HORRIFIED. Chef Frank just laughed and later found Isaac a HUGE chunk of chocolate and gave it to him.
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#22 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 03:38 PM
 
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We're Black and my baby is super social and loves everyone, except Asian women. It's weird. He wouldn't respond to a photographer we took him in to, he acted really indifferent when one waitress made funny faces at him, and he actually cried a couple of weeks ago when we were out and the waitress touched him. That was a first. We joke that he doesn't like Asians, but it isn't so much of a joke because he keeps proving it true.
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#23 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 03:43 PM
 
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My son who is now 12 tasted the first African American person he ever met, he was just shy of three years old. And then said very loudly, and disappointedly..."not chocolate."

We lived on the Oregon coast at the time, with very little diversity. I brought him into work with me, and the executive chef was AA from Louisiana. Chef put his hand out, Isaac stared at it, and then decided to lick it.


I was HORRIFIED. Chef Frank just laughed and later found Isaac a HUGE chunk of chocolate and gave it to him.
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#24 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 03:49 PM
 
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My kids have both been scared of men with facial hair (DH is clean shaven). Both of them were scared to death of both of their grandfathers when they were babies, despite the fact that they saw them frequently.
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#25 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 04:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I"m sorry you're having this experience. We all felt kinda bad that LB was so nervous with her.
awww thanks mama. i am not really upset with this. it just fascinates me - all these layers.

: there is some funny stuff here.

i guess its not so much a race thing. but just a comfort level thing. and race is just one part of it.

and really i was talking of say from newborn to 18 months. that toddling walk where they still havent got it yet i just find so endearing. or the bottom two teeth and giggles.

i am a little concious of this now and first talk to the parents and then the baby - if i interact with the baby at all.

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#26 of 26 Old 11-19-2008, 05:52 PM
 
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as babies, both my white children were expecially fond of of my dark skinned black friends. my younger son just loves our friend terrence. my son does not see his color. my daugher who is nine gives him hugs too. my kids like those who are kind to them. it isnt an issue in our family.

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