In need of advise. Re: stepdad - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 03-04-2009, 10:26 PM - Thread Starter
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I thought I would ask this question here and see what you all think I should do. Okay, bare with me on this. I'm going to try to make it easy to understand.

My Stepdad is Japanese and he pretty much grew up in the states. I think that he lived in Japan until he was 9 years old and then his parents moved to LA which is where he lived for the rest of his childhood. His family spoke Japanese at home but English outside of the home. As far as I know he still speaks Japanese but he's rusty.

He is very sensitive about being Asian. He says that he can't remember how to speak Japanese but he'll talk to his elderly dad in Japanese if he has to. He used to get uncomfortable when we were young (me and my siblings) if we asked him questions about Japan and what it's like there. My mom says that he remembers living there very well but he feels weird talking about it. He thinks that the portrayal of Jin and Sun on the TV show Lost is racist. The list goes on and on like this. When my dh took a Japanese language class at our local CC and asked my stepdad for help he said he couldn't help him.

So, I totally understand that for whatever reason he feels uncomfortable talking about his past and heritage. That's fine with me and my family but my problem is that my dd (she's almost 7) really wants to ask Gramps about Japan. She thinks that it's really neat that he used to live there when he was kid. She wants him to teach her how to say things in Japanese. Ugh.

I've managed to avoid this for a whole year and I thought she forgot about it but she just asked me again today when she can talk to Gramps about Japan. I just told her that lately Gramps and Grandma have been busy, which is true, so we haven't really had time to sit and talk to them lately. I said that we'd have to wait until we can all get together to hang out.

Should I just let her ask him in her own way? Should I tell her no she can't ask him? Should I help her ask him? My mom says that he'd be fine with it but based on the past I think my mom is wrong. (She thinks it's silly that he's so sensitive about it.) What do I do?

As far as I know she's never heard us talking about my stepdad feeling uncomfortable about being Asian. Maybe she has and that's why she hasn't just gone up and asked him or maybe she can just sense the tension around the subject. I have no idea. I really like the fact that she interested in different cultures and I think it would be a really cool learning opportunity for her but I don’t want to make my stepdad feel uncomfortable either. I feel like we should respect his feelings on the subject, but how do we do that without making my dd think there is something wrong with being Asian?
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#2 of 3 Old 03-04-2009, 11:15 PM
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I'd let your daughter ask her grandpa. I'd warn her ahead of time that he may not be up to talking about it but that if he is, thats great. I know that a lot of times grandparents will go the extra mile for the grandkid. I know my grandparents did a lot of things for me that they wouldn't have done for my mom LOL. Something about grandkids (granddaughters especially) melts a grandpa's heart.
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#3 of 3 Old 03-04-2009, 11:44 PM - Thread Starter
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I think your right. He adores my dds so I know that he wouldn't be mean or anything. Knowing him he'll go out of his way to answer her questions or steer her in a different direction. I think I'm making it a bigger deal than it really is.

Sometimes I think my mom can be a little clueless or maybe insensitive about the whole thing so I don't fully know if I should follow her advise. Plus I was worried that my dd would end feeling bad for asking which I didn't want to happen at all.
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