DS (4.5) says he "wants to be white" ughh - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 04-20-2011, 04:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My DS is 4.5 and I am caucasian and his father is West African. We have friends of all types, but let's face it, we live in a white world. He is shy in public settings sometimes (I was as well). Today he made a funny face after an interaction with someone and when we were alone I asked him what was up. He responded that he did not like himself and that he wished he was white like me. Ugh, total moment of my heart dropping to my toes. I told him I loved him, he is beautiful, named all of our varied friends and other mixed families, talked about melanin and the sun, etc.

However, I cannot stop thinking about it!

Please, any advice or shared experiences would be more than appreciated.

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#2 of 8 Old 04-20-2011, 04:57 PM
 
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My kids say stuff like this at times, but they want to be other colors and they are white.  I think that it is part of being 4ish. 

 

Responding with a listening ear as to why they think what they think, and reinforcing what is good about who they are is a great approach.

 

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#3 of 8 Old 04-21-2011, 09:13 PM
 
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I would encourage you not to worry too much about this.  It sounds like you responded in a very thoughtful, loving way and that's what your DS needed.  It also sounds like you have a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds in your lives--I think this helps kids go a long way in learning to like their own, personal diverse background.

 

In any event, my DS1 went through something similar at 4 as well--it was exacerbated by the fact that his baby brother turned out more pale (that is, more like me) than he did.  After a while my (Mexican) DH and I quickly figured out that his feelings about his skin color really were, for the most part, just about color, not race.  This realization took a lot of pressure off of us.  He has always been very attached to me and likes it when we wear clothes that are the same color or in some other way "match"--skin tone was (and still is, to an extent) just like an extension of that for him.  It wasn't that he wanted to be "white" so much as he wanted to be *like me*.

 

For what it's worth, DS1 now will talk very matter-of-factly about how, in the summer, he "turns brown" like his papa and then "gets white-ish" in the winter like me.  This is no longer a topic that is charged with emotion.  In fact, I kind of appreciate these sweet, simple reflections--they make me wish that discussions of skin tone could always remain this innocent for us....

 

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Originally Posted by mamefati28 View Post

My DS is 4.5 and I am caucasian and his father is West African. We have friends of all types, but let's face it, we live in a white world. He is shy in public settings sometimes (I was as well). Today he made a funny face after an interaction with someone and when we were alone I asked him what was up. He responded that he did not like himself and that he wished he was white like me. Ugh, total moment of my heart dropping to my toes. I told him I loved him, he is beautiful, named all of our varied friends and other mixed families, talked about melanin and the sun, etc.

However, I cannot stop thinking about it!

Please, any advice or shared experiences would be more than appreciated.



 


Full-time-working, student mama to a small handful of spring babies... DS1 (4/05) , DS2 (4/08) , and now expecting #3 in May 2015 !
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#4 of 8 Old 04-23-2011, 09:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the responses! I am very sensitive to this issue as my DS is dark skinned and unfortunately will have to deal with being a black male in America and all that it entails. I have hoped to cultivate as much confidence and love of self, before having to deal with the realities of this society, so when he said this to me, my heart just sank. 4 has been very challenging for us, and I appreciate being able to come here for advice and understanding.

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#5 of 8 Old 04-28-2011, 12:06 PM
 
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I understand you so much! Do you have only one child? And if so think about getting another, lol!

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#6 of 8 Old 04-29-2011, 06:10 AM
 
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Hugs mama.  At this point, I wouldn't be too concerned. It's around this age that children become aware of racial and skin color differences.  They begin to recognize that they are different than others in lots of ways..  This is very common in racially diverse societies.  Continue to encourage a positive sense of self, which you're already doing.  It helps to have images of people who have a similar skin color so he can see that there are others who look like him. 


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#7 of 8 Old 05-01-2011, 02:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Purplegirl, your post meant a lot to me.

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#8 of 8 Old 05-04-2011, 11:26 AM
 
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It sounds to me like you handled it beautifully. Great job, mom, and don't stress about it. Like the PP's have said, this is so common with kids this age.

 

My oldest son has dark olive skin like his (Palestinian) dad. He went through a similar stage around age 4. He only once expressed dissatisfaction with his skin color, and I told him something similar what you did - that it is sometimes fun to think about what it would be like to look different than what we do, that I've sometimes wished for thicker hair or green eyes like my grandma's, but that I found him absolutely beautiful and perfect just the way he was),

 

Around the same time, he somehow also became convinced that he was black, and would tell everyone so. I assume because he noticed his skin was darker than any of his other friends at the time, and was working hard on developing his own identity. Skin color is such an easy identifier for little ones to use. Now he is 7, and his concerns have shifted to things other than skin color. He rarely brings it up, and when he does, it isn't emotionally charged.

 

His younger brother, who has pale white skin and blond hair, is just starting to get interested in skin color now, too, so we're starting to go through it again. He likes to point out how different his brother's skin is. For us, the difference in skin color is such a great learning opportunity about how appearances don't mean much about what is inside - after all, both boys have the same mom and the same dad, and look like they have completely different ethnic backgrounds. It is easy to move from that to the concept that skin color doesn't correlate with any particular character traits, either.

 

 

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