Strangers questioning paternity - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 28 Old 07-06-2008, 08:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I noticed someone else mentioned this in a thread and it happened recently to me. DS is only 4 months old so this is all new to me. Perhaps some of you who have been dealing with this longer can give me some graceful ways to answer this.

DS is very light-skinned, almost the same as my skin color right now while his Father is dark-skinned. Apparently people expect him to look a lot darker based on his Father's skin tone. I recently had a woman who knows my husband look at our son and say to her friend (but still loud enough for me to hear) "that is a white man's baby!" and then laugh. Her friend looked mortified. I just ignored her. Is that the best tactic? Ignore? It seems to me that she wanted a laugh or some attention at my (ds's?) expense.

If I had thought about it ahead of time (I never knew anyone would say that!) I think I would have made it like a joke, "no, you know my husband, enterhusband'snamehere, he's not white!" But I'm not even sure that is the best way to deal with it.

I want a way to answer people that is very respectful so that my Son can learn that other people's rudeness is not an excuse to be rude or lose your own grace.

Just be matter-of-fact, yes this is his Father and let people be surprised or skeptical?

Thanks for you advice and experiences!
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#2 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 04:38 AM
 
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Both DH and I have very dark hair. DS was born with very dark hair, but it became blond when he was about a year old. This isn't so strange. DH was blond until he was around 4 or 5. He's Dutch and this is very common in Holland. A lot of people get darker hair as they get older. DS' hair has gotten a little darker, but, at 5.5, is still very blond.

People make all sorts of jokes about it if they see us all together. It's actually a bit annoying, as they're implying (in a joking way, that I've been unfaithful) A friend of mine suggested that I look sad and say, "Well . .. we've gone through a hard time, but DH loves him like he was his own." and wait for the looks on other peoples faces!

I've never had my wits about me enough to actually say this, though!

I suggest confronting comments, though. You can look at the people directly and say, "I beg your pardon." [insert stony stare] I guarantee they'll start stuttering and apologizing and claiming it was a joke.
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#3 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 10:47 AM
 
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It depends on my mood and situation. I have enjoyed saying "We are waiting for maury to call back with the DNA results." or something ot the like.

I had a friend who was accused by people in her mosque of her youngest child having a "white" Father (her and her DH were black-and seperated due to HIS abuse/cheating) after she was bron. By a few motnhs old the baby had gotten as dark as her older children but my friend already felt forced ot leave the mosque!

Ignorance is everywhere!
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#4 of 28 Old 07-07-2008, 10:51 PM
 
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It depends on my mood and situation. I have enjoyed saying "We are waiting for maury to call back with the DNA results." or something ot the like.

I had a friend who was accused by people in her mosque of her youngest child having a "white" Father (her and her DH were black-and seperated due to HIS abuse/cheating) after she was bron. By a few motnhs old the baby had gotten as dark as her older children but my friend already felt forced ot leave the mosque!

Ignorance is everywhere!
I can't believe that so called "muslims" would do such a thing.....on second thought, I am not surprised in the least:. I would love those people to come to my mosque.....there are sooo many "mixed" marriages and noone thinks twice about the way a child looks or if they do they know it would be wise not to verbalize it...It would not be tolerated by anyone. I do have a friend who is Malaysian who is married to an Iraqi....she told me about the way she was treated by her husband's friends when they first met her....they had no idea she was not iraqi. I love the Maury comeback

Anyway, I also would not ignore what someone says.....I usually look at them coldly and say "You know, it sounds to me like you are saying I am unfaithful because of how my child looks....is that what you are meaning to say?" (loud enough to draw attention to them) and I would hold their gaze until they drop it. If they have any sense of morality they will be embarrassed; if not, I feel free to give them a lecture not only on manners but also on genetics.
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#5 of 28 Old 07-08-2008, 11:27 AM
 
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A friend of mine suggested that I look sad and say, "Well . .. we've gone through a hard time, but DH loves him like he was his own." and wait for the looks on other peoples faces!
I love this response, but like so many threads on this board ('is he yours?' 'what is he?') I'd want to be careful with my answer if little ears are present. (and it seems like they would be most of the time for this question.)
This sort of answer might give your son the wrong idea, and he's the one you should be concerned about - not some random stranger or aquaintance. (Maybe if you are at an adult party and showing some pics?)

So, if family resemblance is important to you, you could say "he doesn't have DH's coloring, but their toes curve in exactly the same way! There's no way he's not a Smith!" or whatever is exactly the same... Or, you could point out personality traits that are the same, or you could mention that your coloring or DH's coloring changed over time. Or point out that, esp in families of color, there is a wide range of pigments.

Again, focus on your child and not the rude person in front of you! OP - you DC is young enough that you can practice your answers and find a collection that feel comfortable to you so that you can just shoot back with something appropriate for your DS to hear when he is able to understand.

- Cyndi
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#6 of 28 Old 07-10-2008, 10:51 AM
 
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So, if family resemblance is important to you, you could say "he doesn't have DH's coloring, but their toes curve in exactly the same way! There's no way he's not a Smith!" or whatever is exactly the same... Or, you could point out personality traits that are the same...
ITA... that's what we did. We also made frequent reference to her other physical and personality features, but we rarely had to do that because once people got over the initial skin tone observation, they noticed immediately that DD is a light-colored mini-DH!

DD was much lighter than we anticipated given DH's coloring, and I often replied, "Now I'm sure she's mine!" :

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#7 of 28 Old 07-11-2008, 08:45 PM
 
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I'm kind of in your husbands position. It's often asked if I'm babysitting or if they are in fact my children. As annoyed as it makes me, I just tell them that they are both born of me and yes, their father is white. People can be really ignorant and don't understand that their little comments and questions are rude. To imply that you were unfaithful or promiscuous because your child is light is ridiculous!
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#8 of 28 Old 07-22-2008, 10:18 AM
 
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I go through this.
My dd's father is from Cuba.
We both have dark hair and our baby is fair with
big blonde curls and blue eyes.
The same blonde curls we BOTH had as babies.

We always get asked about her.
People will stop us and say she is not hispanic.
When he is alone with her people ask,
"Is THAT your baby!"
:

"Well . .. we've gone through a hard time, but DH loves him like he was his own."
LOL! I do joke sometimes depending on who it is.

Hope
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#9 of 28 Old 07-23-2008, 11:36 PM
 
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My mother spent my entire childhood hearing comments about how my three younger siblings and I must have four different fathers. Weak.

Depending on the mood of the situation and my mood, I might give any response from, "Don't be obtuse," to, "Yeah, I'm a real sl**. Mike doesn't mind, though," to "Are you calling me a who**?" I mean, the responses are really endless.

I'm sorry you have to deal with it, but my suggestion (for the sake of your own self, and ideally; i'll be the first to admit that i am not always perfect) is to assume that it's just the initial shock of seeing such a pale child of such a dark parent, or vice versa. If it's just surprise, you can say, "Yeah, aren't genes fascinating?" and follow that up with the unschooler's response, "Mind passing the bean dip?"

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#10 of 28 Old 08-02-2008, 06:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by RasJi7 View Post
DS is very light-skinned, almost the same as my skin color right now while his Father is dark-skinned. Apparently people expect him to look a lot darker based on his Father's skin tone. I recently had a woman who knows my husband look at our son and say to her friend (but still loud enough for me to hear) "that is a white man's baby!" and then laugh. Her friend looked mortified. I just ignored her. Is that the best tactic? Ignore? It seems to me that she wanted a laugh or some attention at my (ds's?) expense.
!
Assuming you are white, I would say: ''No, it is a white woman's baby!''

Really, a child of mixed parentage may have a colour out of a whole range of skin colours, for a mix of 'black and white' it may be everything from totally white to totally black! So why wouldn't your child be able to your husband's, being white, as you are.
If the joke thing wouldn't make them think, you could just state this fact.

I have two, their features look most like mine, but one is really dark skinned like daddy (especially in Summer) and one is very light skinned almost like me.

Strangely, a few times weird people have been questioning me being their mom, which I REALLY don't understand regarding the resemblance especially cfr. hair and eyes.

Me:,loving HB,two active sons of 3 & 5,1 cat, nature lover,,extbf,occ,SAHM, multicultural/lingual family,+/-cl, :become a better parent/person by not expecting to be the perfect parent/person
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#11 of 28 Old 08-06-2008, 01:43 PM
 
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Ahhh... A subject that makes me see red. My oldest's skin is darker than mine, lighter than my husband's, but within an "acceptable" range. Meaning, people seem to think that he's dark enough to be my husband's child. My middle and youngest are lighter than me. Well, really I just have a deep tan most of the time because I rarely wear suntan lotion. I slather them with suntan lotion if we so much as step into a patch of light from the window and they match my untanned skin color.

The "jokes" and comments when my middle child was born were insane. At first I tried to laugh it off but that got old very quickly and I don't put up with any of them anymore. Depending on my mood (which rapidly turns into anger no matter what it was before the "joke" was uttered) I might answer with "Excuse me???" or "Do you think that's cute?" If there are no children around and if I'm in a particularly bad mood and/or speaking to someone who has made the "joke" before my retorts get much more rude. Whatever I say I make it clear that it isn't funny and that I think the speaker is an idiot.

However, I'm really, really sensitive to the race issue and tend to see red when stupid things like that are uttered.

Mama to two boys and a girl.
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#12 of 28 Old 08-08-2008, 12:39 PM
 
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it happens quite often and i feel as though i do not owe anyone an explanation of my dd's parentage. this is not something that you have to explain to every person who asks or makes commentary.

i would just keep 'em guessing and press on because the reality is that it is quite insensitive considering that people do have children that are from donors and a variety of arrangements and that is only their business. at no point did we make an agreement that our children would be subject to 50 million questions about their backgrounds. so if we opt not to say, it seems to me that folks just have to roll with it.

to you for how you must be feeling.

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#13 of 28 Old 08-10-2008, 02:51 AM
 
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The first thing my in laws (filipino) said to me (white) when they saw our son was "He's SO white!" I knew them well enough to know that they did not mean to be rude, but really, how could they not know better than to say that. I can't remember if I said outloud or only thought at them "well, I'm white...."

DS's skin has gotten darker and this time when we visited it was not mentioned. But I thought they might say something like He's so beautiful, or cute, or something more tactful....

People are funny.
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#14 of 28 Old 08-10-2008, 06:49 PM
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Wait till it happens to them in school. My dd has had children tell her that I can't be her mom & she MUST be adopted!! It really makes me wonder what goes on in these children's homes that they come to school armed with so much racial intolerance - in 2nd & 3rd grade!! It's sad to me that this is even still an issue with adults, but for little kids to be so obviously biased against skin color is unreal...

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#15 of 28 Old 08-11-2008, 01:08 PM
 
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Wait till it happens to them in school. My dd has had children tell her that I can't be her mom & she MUST be adopted!! It really makes me wonder what goes on in these children's homes that they come to school armed with so much racial intolerance - in 2nd & 3rd grade!! It's sad to me that this is even still an issue with adults, but for little kids to be so obviously biased against skin color is unreal...
Yeah. I had a friend in high school who had beautiful olive skin and dark curly hair. One of her teachers asked her in front of the class to share her experiences as a "mixed" child. She looked right back at the teacher and said "I wish I could, but both of my parents are white."

Our DD looks very much like DH (Palestinian). She has darker skin and dark curly hair. DS is very light with blue eyes and red hair. My great grandmother and his grandmother both have light features so I'm guessing that's where he gets it.

Most of the people that have made jokes about it so far are family friends, and it doesn't bother me so much. What bothers me is strangers or acquaintances making assumptions. It's really none of their business. I usually just say that.
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#16 of 28 Old 08-11-2008, 01:15 PM
 
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Sorry, I don't belong in this group, but I just wanted to pop in and say I can't believe people are so obnoxious. I've had people ask me if my twins were mine for no apparent reason, and if they were conceived "naturally" or with "pills"...as if any of these issues are there business whatsoever.
I just think people are so dumb and it amazes me that they aren't even smart enough to keep their ignorance to themselves!
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#17 of 28 Old 08-12-2008, 06:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm so happy I posted this- great responses- I've got lots of ideas now. Basically I am going to stick with the 'ignore it' tactic but I am already feeling for my DS for the day that someone tells him his Dad is not really his Dad-kids can be so cruel
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#18 of 28 Old 08-13-2008, 09:41 AM
 
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my two boys looks exactly like me and each other, and nothing like DH right now. They are blond, with straight hair and blue eyes. DH has long curly dark brown (nearly black) hair and dark brown eyes.

He gets funny looks sometimes when he is out with them and periodic comments about whether they "belong" to him or not. 'Course, he also gets asked if they are twins, and they are 6 inches apart in height and 2 years in age.

Someone once asked me if my kids even had a father, because they looked cloned (I wasn't really sure what to do with that comment - I laughed it off).

And dh and I are similiar racial backgrounds (European/ Caucasian)!

Genes can do weird things. DH was born nearly blond and his hair got significantly darker over the years. My friend looks more like her aunt than either of her parents - there was a rumor by some ignorant neighbors that she was "actually" her aunt's child (which is ridiculous - her aunt was married and pregnant when my friend was born). A friend with b/g twins had one a lot darker skinned/complexion than the other, and the boy is HUGE and the girl tiny- most people don't believe they are related, let alone twins. Another friend had a daughter who had red hair for awhile (it turned brownaround age 2) even though my friend knew of no redheads in either family.

You know the attributes for a great adult? Initiative, creativity, intellectual curiosity? They make for a helluva kid...
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#19 of 28 Old 08-14-2008, 12:13 AM
 
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My DH is a twin, and he and his twin look nothing alike (similar to what another poster said about her twins). He's 6', athletic build, blond and blue eyed. She's 5'2, very rotund, dark brown hair and eyes. It is quite hysterical what genetics will do.

Our two sons look a lot like me (asian coloring) but also have aspects of DH (facial features). It's funny because white people always state "you look just like your mommy!" whereas most of the asian people I meet always say "their dad must be white because their noses are so straight!"

The rudest thing I think is when people outright ask DH if they are "his" or where he adopted them from. He brushes it off and says they are 100% his boys, but yeah, the stupidity and outright GALL of some people really get to me at times!

DS1 04/2005; DS2 08/2008
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#20 of 28 Old 08-22-2008, 08:20 PM
 
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I found that going into a long discussion of genetics and backgrounds and hair colors and eye colors and "isn't it interesting?" tends to get people to, um, stop talking about it. I mean, it IS interesting to me, but I'm quite sure people who make little blippy comments didn't intend to give up 5-10 minutes of their time to hear a dissertation on genotypes.

But that's when I get the questions. The questions when it's just me and DS aren't nasty. They can tell he looks a little different from me, that he's something a bit more than caucasian. He is pale but gets golden, he has almond-ish shaped eyes that are amber in color (the only other way to describe their color is to say they match his hair, which they do, but his hair is RED and you can't say "red eyes", can you?), and he has red hair that can go from reddish brown to bronze to copper to strawberry blond depending on the light.

When hubby gets the questions the questions aren't pretty, and he's usually so taken aback that he can't say anything, he just stares. The worst by far was when DS was an infant. DS was very pink, had blue eyes, bright bright ORANGE hair (seriously, orange, not red, just orange), and didn't look even a bit Korean (he's a quarter), let alone the Portuguese hubby also is (1/4 that 1/4 Welsh, 1/2 Korean).

Hubby was standing outside a Sears or JC Penney women's dressing room. Holding diaper bag, baby in baby sling, woman's purse, and just waiting.

Woman came up out of the blue and declared "it looks as though you STOLE that child!!!"

Not really sure that anything said or not said to that woman could cure her from thinking things like that, and in fact I'm not sure hubby managed to get anything out of his mouth before she walked away...


But the long discussion of genetics and how both sides have red hair hiding in them and his cousins with matching backgrounds (their dad was white like me) look more Korean than their mom or uncle BUT they also have the amber eyes, and blah blah blah blah blah...has worked for me.
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#21 of 28 Old 08-22-2008, 09:13 PM
 
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I'm sorry you had to be exposed to that ignorance.

Slightly ot, but I met a couple once that was a white, blond woman and a very, very dark man and together they made one white baby and one very dark baby. It was so cute to see them all together! I know there's science behind it, but it sometimes seems pretty random to me..
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#22 of 28 Old 08-23-2008, 03:33 PM
 
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I find some of the stupid things people say hard to believe, especially considering that if you are from the US, the chances of being of mixed heritage are so high that we are all basically ''mutts''. Not being as nice as some of you, I tend to deflect all questions towards my kids' being biologically mine and DH's, unless they are asked very nicely and in context with a convo I am already having with that person with the blanket statement, ''Any tell me again why it's any of your business?'' Depending on the question and if the kids are around or not, I have also been known to liberally sprinkle in the F word. Oh well.
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#23 of 28 Old 08-24-2008, 06:47 PM
 
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I get this alot. I am blond hair blue eyes with the lightest skin ever and DH is Hispanic and Mayan he is super dark skinned with black hair and super dark eyes.

Our girls are light skinned almost like me but a little darker, brown hair with auburn tints and greenish blue eyes. DH's aunt always says to him those girls sure don't look like you. When we went to Mexico people said the same. It makes me mad even though it shouldn't.

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#24 of 28 Old 08-24-2008, 08:21 PM
 
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My DH is a twin, and he and his twin look nothing alike (similar to what another poster said about her twins). He's 6', athletic build, blond and blue eyed. She's 5'2, very rotund, dark brown hair and eyes. It is quite hysterical what genetics will do.

Our two sons look a lot like me (asian coloring) but also have aspects of DH (facial features). It's funny because white people always state "you look just like your mommy!" whereas most of the asian people I meet always say "their dad must be white because their noses are so straight!"

The rudest thing I think is when people outright ask DH if they are "his" or where he adopted them from. He brushes it off and says they are 100% his boys, but yeah, the stupidity and outright GALL of some people really get to me at times!
I'm 100% Chinese, and DH is a mix of Siksika (Blackfoot), Dutch, Czech, and other European. I personally think that DS looks like a nice even mix, but DH's family has said over and over again how he looks JUST like me . . . and MY family says over and over again how much he looks like my DH!

My aunt asked "So, does anyone ever think you're the nanny? Because he looks SO white!"

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Originally Posted by milkybean View Post
I found that going into a long discussion of genetics and backgrounds and hair colors and eye colors and "isn't it interesting?" tends to get people to, um, stop talking about it. I mean, it IS interesting to me, but I'm quite sure people who make little blippy comments didn't intend to give up 5-10 minutes of their time to hear a dissertation on genotypes.

But that's when I get the questions. The questions when it's just me and DS aren't nasty. They can tell he looks a little different from me, that he's something a bit more than caucasian. He is pale but gets golden, he has almond-ish shaped eyes that are amber in color (the only other way to describe their color is to say they match his hair, which they do, but his hair is RED and you can't say "red eyes", can you?), and he has red hair that can go from reddish brown to bronze to copper to strawberry blond depending on the light.

When hubby gets the questions the questions aren't pretty, and he's usually so taken aback that he can't say anything, he just stares. The worst by far was when DS was an infant. DS was very pink, had blue eyes, bright bright ORANGE hair (seriously, orange, not red, just orange), and didn't look even a bit Korean (he's a quarter), let alone the Portuguese hubby also is (1/4 that 1/4 Welsh, 1/2 Korean).

Hubby was standing outside a Sears or JC Penney women's dressing room. Holding diaper bag, baby in baby sling, woman's purse, and just waiting.

Woman came up out of the blue and declared "it looks as though you STOLE that child!!!"

Not really sure that anything said or not said to that woman could cure her from thinking things like that, and in fact I'm not sure hubby managed to get anything out of his mouth before she walked away...


But the long discussion of genetics and how both sides have red hair hiding in them and his cousins with matching backgrounds (their dad was white like me) look more Korean than their mom or uncle BUT they also have the amber eyes, and blah blah blah blah blah...has worked for me.
I love blathering about phenotype vs. genotype. Makes people's eyes cross.
And it's terrible that woman said your DH looked like he stole the baby! The things that come out of people's mouths! OMG!
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#25 of 28 Old 08-31-2008, 11:03 PM
 
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People are simply ignorant, I've been able to find no excuse for many of their comments. DH is part Cherokee and while fair skinned, has very dark hair, lashes, etc. I'm also fair but with almost equally dark hair. Our son is a bit darker skinned while our dd has skin so fair it is transluscent, and both have incredibly blonde hair. Part of my heritage is Dutch - I have a whole line of blonde relatives. DH's mom is also a natural blonde, as was he when he was young. I've been shocked by the looks and comments we get when we go out as a family - it's exactly like they're sizing us up and assuming DH couldn't possibly be the father! I've had some nicer inquiries, like "my goodness! Where did they get all that blonde hair?" which is nosy but not flat in your face rude, as well as the more direct comments. I generally reply something like "Oh, I know! With that blonde hair I'm convinced DH was having an affair with the mailman!". If nothing else it throws them off enough that they shut up so I can move on.

K.
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#26 of 28 Old 09-03-2008, 10:09 AM
 
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I didn't read all the replies, but I agree with

1. calling them on it
2. educating ignorant people
3. being respectful in front of children.

How about, "excuse me? I couldn't help but overhear your rude comment. It's unfortunate that you were not able to take a genetics class in school. It's what is so beautiful about living in a/n open society/mixed society/melting pot/America. The stew of genes here is amazing! But I do hope in the future, you will keep in mind how those comments come across to others. They make you sound very ignorant and disrespectful."

:
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#27 of 28 Old 09-04-2008, 03:08 PM
 
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Anyone who's seen "black" babies knows that they often start out very light, regardless of their parentage or eventual skin tone. This woman was just showing her ignorance. I would either inform her, or ignore her.

Mom of 4 aspiring midwife "Friend"ly seeker
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#28 of 28 Old 09-05-2008, 10:51 AM
 
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My girl is porcelain skinned with blue eyes and strawberry blond hair. I am biracial (African American and caucasian, with the skin tone that is generally expected). While I look at baby pics of me and can see that her face and features are shaped like mine were, people are only apt to notice the stark difference between us. My stock response is, "Genetic mutations: You never know what you're gonna get."
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