for example, we live in japan and our australian-japanese daughter gets A LOT of postive attention from strangers when we go out. she is only 2 and already telling people 'No' if they look at her too much or talk about her. i didn't think she'd catch on so early.
so, i want to help her in these uncomfortable situations. how do you deal with this type of thing?
my daughter gets so shy and won't do or say anything so often when we are out because people are pointing her out to their friends or gawking/talking about her in a very obvious way. if she's out with her dad, she blends in and doesn't get special attention for looking different.
should i talk to her about it? explain why this happens or just leave it? sometimes i want to ask people to stop it because it makes her uncomfortable, but that'd be rude and i'd probably create an even bigger scene.
Mostly people just comment about how cute he is and say "hi" and smile. They will ask normal questions like his age or name or the name of his stuffed bunny (who gets a lot of attention too.) They only rarely ask about his heritage.
As a redhead I've always gotten lots of attention too (and people do ask about my heritage quite a lot.) The thing I found was that when I was with my dad, who is generaly comfortable with people and out going, he made it a positive expirience simply by being friendly with people. When questions about heritage came up my dad would talk about ours with great pride, since he is proud of his heritage. Whereas when I was with my mother, she tended to be uncomfortable with it and would get prickly, then it would be a more negative experience.
Attention in and of itself does not have to be a bad thing. I just try to make sure DS knows he gets attentiion b/c he is wonderful and beautiful, and try not to let him think that the attention he gets is b/c he is different or wierd or something. I also want him to grow up with pride in his heritage.
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I`m also a mother of a 18 month old son who is half Japanese. I`ve also noticed all the positive attention he gets from strangers here. We love it though and ds is not bothered by it by any means *yet*.
If your dd is bothered by it I would try to explain to her in very simple terms. Something along the lines that she is getting all the attention because she is very cute and/or funny. And I`ve come to realize that probably is the truth. The *admirers* mean no harm, they truly think our children are very cute...
I was always wearing him and still he would be touched/prodded/stroked by strangers many times a day. I was told it's good luck to touch a baby. I almost never saw Thai babies in public where we were so I wonder if part of the interest was checking out any baby, never mind a farang one. Often people would touch even if I asked them not to but my crap Thai could come into play here!
Now we're in Singapore and it's not an issue.
When living outside our birth country, we can expect many cultural differences to pop up and potentially make us or the locals uncomfortable ('been there ); it's a 2 way street. Most of the time, people don't even realize they are doing something different b/c it's part of them. Once made aware, they usually stop or have that choice; it's also our choice to accept the local customs or not.
Our LOs can be taught those differences and depending on how we present these to them, they will react accordingly.
Mama to a lively DD (10/05) and DS (06/23) !
We're going to have to live with people's comments. We're all multi-racial, genetically speaking. This will start to show more and more by the way coming generations look. And then there will be less comments!
When I was a child, everyone in the U.S. told me that I was the cutest little thing, being a freckled redhead. In Germany, some children tried to make fun of my hair but I was already so brainwashed that there was no way to upset me with comments about my hair. I just answered proudly: "Yes, I am a redhead. Are you jealous?"
Perhaps just a sunhat could shield your child a little bit?
And no matter what the cultural context: If someone reaches out to touch my child, I would say: "No touching!" She has sensory issues and hates being touched by strangers, just like I do myself.
Dh is Cambodian, I'm mostly Irish Canadian. Dd is 3.
At 2, she did the same thing... I suspect it may also be a developmental stage... carefulness, staying close to mom, and general shyness (even concern) when strangers would show overt interest... I was thankful dd was a cautious child, then.
Now she's quite out-going and talks people up... if they try to converse with me about her, she will interject answers of her own.
my kids are older than yours and are quite often uncomfortable with the attention. I tell them that sadly they will continue to get this attention and that they just have to learn to live with it. while I try to explain to them that being born in japan, raised in japan and never having lived anywhere else, they are 100 percent Japanese, and their MOTHER is gaijin. but, with not black hair and not black eyes, they are also, GAIJIN. I hope that by example and by some form of osmosis they learn to appreciate their uniqueness and to embrace their non-japanese roots.
I hope that they will grow in to the comfort with the discomfort.
On the other hand, the situation is reversed, when we are in his home country, where I stick out, with having reddish hair, being slim (and not superskinny), and tall (3-4 heads taller than a lot of woman). Bit cities are less of problem than country sides. I had elementry schools kids once swarming around me, testing their first english words shyly and just being excited to see someone like me and on other occasions, people in asked my husband if I am allright and what happened to me, that I grew that tall - I am 5.10, not that anusual.
Part is just normal curiosity and I prefer if people ask and make seemingly silly comments and learn that way, than if it is they silently discriminate against us. Same as I am excused in a foreign country, because I do not know all the rules of proper conduct, I find people with little exposure to other culture should be a bit excused as well, when they are curious and excited and thus behave sometimes accidentely rudly.
What I do not accept is rude behavior just because we are foreign looking. But I don't think that was your problem in the first place. It is strange to receive so much attention, but I am sure you can help teach your child how to deal with it and show her a polite way to react to situations, that embarres her.
I got some good advice from the book *Does anybody look like me?* I think th at is the title, currently out on loan or I would check.
Somebody joked my DD would think her name was *cute* b/c that is what everybody called her.
I say things like *all children are beautiful/cute/wonderful* and have spent time with DD talking about her beautiful features, but what makes her really beautiful is being herself, what is on the inside.
My girls look a little more like their dad, which is fine. Some people have made sort of negative remarks about it, as if it would have been better for them to have looked more like me...
It is a long road.
I think it is important for children to feel comfortable and proud of the way they look.
It is a strange thing!
On the one hand I am often being recognized by others in my 'host country' as a 'foreigner', on the other hand I have the kind of looks that also seems to blend in for other locals, who do not (initially) seem to recognise me as a foreigner.
When recognised as such you feel the looks, and you often literally hear them say when you pass/behind your back: 'foreigner' (how lovely ), they aften assume sice you are 'foreign' you do not have a clue what is been said, so sometimes I might hear more of their comments (often based on curiosity, but at times very offending, very rude, have had some really bad experiences, luckily isolated incidents). It also happened many times that people have been staring at me and my kids, you really get the feeling like you're 'screened' head to toe. Not very pleasant. Sometimes downright funny, I mean it is so over the top that I cannot but laugh about it.
Really, I do have the kind of looks (light brown hair, pale but not ivory skin, with freckles, small posture) that is also found among locals, in this country there's really a blend of all kinds of looks, from fair-skinned to dark skinned, hair from blonde over red to brown and black (and grey :-), there really is no stereotype that can apply to these people, nor as one could generally apply to all inhabitants of other countries. E.g. My ILs initially expected a blonde, blue-eyed bride, and my hair and eyes were almost black :-)!
I must say I do not really like to be addressed just because of my 'foreignness' which makes me a curiosity, or being named a 'foreigner/stranger', the last thing also because it is an impolite/rude or oven racist attitude in my country of origin to call or address someone as such. Sometimes it feels really unpleasant or weird. I'd just like to blend in an be addressed because of who I am or because I'm a customer or so. Luckily that also happens enough :-).
My husband is really dark skinned, and has pitch black hair.
Kids are a blend, they got their dark eyes from. In one country he 'jumps out' because of his darker/different looks, in the other he is often noticed as well because there too he looks 'different'. For the youngest it's usually the other way round :-).
It is often fun when people 'like' our kids, people here are generally really really warm towards children and it happens so often that a shopkeeper or waiter or passer-by wants to hold your child and show it off to others. I wouldn't let them when they were just a baby and/or in a difficult mood, but now they're older I enjoy these encounters most of the time. And it happens even more when your kids look a bit different, so it happened quite a lot to us. Few minutes of hands-free shopping, or a pleasant opportunity to finally finish your own meal at a restaurant :-). My kids aregenerally extraverted, anmd are not too shy, so they mostly like such attention. (Edited, few years later: the youngest is actually quite shy the past few years and loathes adults trying to speak to himıor touch him of get his attention and even though he's always been quite 'sensory', I think at least part of this behaviour has to do with lots of unwanted attention he's been getting :-(...) But it also depends on HOW people respond to them, there is a big difference in their reaction when they really get positive attention, or when the understand someone is a really good friend of ours, or when it is about strangers 'just wanting to touch them' or 'wanting to kiss them', stroke the hair and saying 'you're cute' and/or pinch their cheeks (so more for the pleasure of that stranger than for pleasing your child which I find NOT ok!), and then they are not so happy at all. They are too young to notice people staring at them, but people more often stare at me then them, so that's ok. Their reaction may be more annoyed when they get a little older though (Edited: they got more shy or annoyed but they also learn to speak their mind when needed). As a teenager they may either hate to look different to some, or love it. (Edited: I just tell them, look, you're mixed, NOT 'other', you're being both from two worlds, and so being mixed is a richness to treasure, not at all a loss or something to be annoyed about, try to positively communicate that to people when you feel annoyed they look at you or treat you differently.)
If it really happens TOO often on one and the same day, it DOES get annoying (especially for little ones).
I also mostly just try to explain things to my kids as they are, in words they understand, about all kinds of topics and also this one. They deserve to get the thruth, in a way they can understand/deal with it.
My father was having his grandchild as a baby in a stroller and he encountered two girls who looked at the baby, then at my father, then again at the baby, again at my father, and then he saw them say something, giggle and shake their heads. We thought that as quite funny.
Both me and my husband, when together people often couldn't or can't 'figure us out'. WelL, welcome to the world of today where blending will more and more be common but in some regions more than in other.
I really wonder if ever someone will ask if my kids are adopted, but I do think they look enough like me. But even then, I'll just explain they're mixed, why being offended while I think adoption is honourable?And it is often better to look at the fun or better sides of things.
Maybe I would say differently if I would live in a society where blending in is hardly impossible at all with my and my kids because that must be even more challenging.
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