Is this typical of any child, or should I be concerned? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 35 Old 09-20-2008, 11:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DD is biracial (Korean and white). She has been making a lot of comments lately:

-I don't want to be Asian.
-My hair and face don't match.
-I want to dye my hair blond (she's wanted blond hair for a few years).
-I am too dark. I want pale skin like __.
-I'm not pretty.

Obviously, my heart is breaking for her. How can a 6 yo have such low self-esteem????

Supposedly no one is saying any of this to her at school, but it DEFINITELY started once school began.

My sister said she always wished for blond hair/blues eyes as a child (we are Irish, but she has dark hair . . .mine was blond back then). So, she thinks this is normal.

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#2 of 35 Old 09-21-2008, 01:30 AM
 
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My youngest had strong desires to have black hair cut in a bob- just like Dora the Explorer. She had her hair cut in a bob for a while. She noticed that she tans and has dark skin like Dora one summer. But isn't pasty like her sister. She is convinced if she was Indian like a friend of hers she would look good with a nose piercing but in her 8 year old mine that only looks good on dark girls (Her friend from India is actually darker than most of the African heritage people we know). She also has asked why the lady I work with has a Japanese name (sil has same name) when she isn't Japanese. I had to explain to her she was half Japanese she still thinks I am lyeing because she is so white compared to her cousins.

My 10 year old says she wishes she wasn't so pastie---she has very pale skin and burns easily. It wasn't until this summer was convinced that dark skin people tan and burn also, even though her cousins are half Japanese. She has my color hair and unfortunately it can look dirty quick. Right now it is summer bleached and she wants to keep it this way. She is no were as "color" aware or concerned as my youngest. I just think she has burning so easily.

Both of my girls have colored and "lighten" their hair. We have done manic panic and regular colorants My youngest says she likes auburn hair best--but then she looks like her great grandma (when she was young).

My kids are not that multicultural genetically.
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#3 of 35 Old 09-21-2008, 01:41 AM
 
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I don't know what to say, except that I went through the same as a small child myself. I wanted to be blonde and blue-eyed, no one invited me to their birthday parties and I was an outsider - somehow in my mind as a 5 year old it was because I didn't look like the other girls. This was in the seventies, in southern Alberta where it was pretty homogeneous and white...I looked very much Aboriginal or Hispanic, with long black hair and dark skin.

All I can say is s. And maybe ask her some more open questions about how things are going at school and engaging her teachers? They may see something going on too. Is there a way to get her to socialize with more kids that she feels she has something in common with to build confidence a bit? My little one is under two so I don't really know...

Hope things get better,

Lizette
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#4 of 35 Old 09-21-2008, 10:47 AM
 
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Does your DD have adult or older friends/family members of Asian descent? I think in your place I would make a huge effort to help her see how many important people in her life are Asian, how many accomplished people are Asian.

I would also speak to her teachers. There may be something that they are doing unconsciously that is adding to her distress (like assuming that she's good at math b/c she's Asian) and affecting her self-esteem. And they can let you know if any of the kids are saying anything to her.

I think it's normal (though difficult) for six-year-olds to suddenly become aware that they are defined and judged by others in ways that are not of their choosing. I think the best we can do as parents is help them to understand that regardless of that, the only judgment/definition that matters is their own.

My 6 yr-old DS was told just yesterday by a friend that liking to play dress up makes him a baby. I asked him "are you a baby?" He said no. I said, "can you think of any grown-ups that like wearing costumes?" Yes, his dad *loves* Haloween. So we concluded that what his friend said is untrue and therefore can't bother him.

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#5 of 35 Old 09-21-2008, 12:16 PM
 
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yes, i would be concerned...i think it is normal in this culture, where beauty standards and what is good/desirable is so rigidly defined, and so correlated with race...

i would make sure she has a lot that reflects her that is positive---so making sure there are bi-racial asian people in her life, asian people in her life, asian dolls, posters, magazines, stuff that reflects back to her that what she is is beautiful, worthy, cool, perfect as she is...(there are groups for people who are bi-racial asian, maybe look it up to get more info, i think it's called HAPA)

also try and make sure her school, church, groups, etc have people like her in them, read books about people like her, etc

j
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#6 of 35 Old 09-21-2008, 12:20 PM
 
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http://www.hapalife.com/joomla/index...tpage&Itemid=1

here is one resource, i don't know if it is good, but just to get you started, j
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#7 of 35 Old 09-22-2008, 09:33 AM
 
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Racial and cultural acceptance is a "normal", nonetheless concerning, stage of development in our society. Most children who are of the minority (bi-racial, black, hispanic, asian, etc) go through it.
My goddaughter who is a beautiful, dark brown skinned girl is dying to look like her blond, blue eyed best friend. She loves the American Dolls but refuses to allow her mom to get her Addy--the black doll. She only wants the white ones Unfortunately, her mom colludes with her, allows her to believe that she is more beautiful when her hair is straightened rather than in its natural state. I strongly encouraged my friend to purchase the Addy doll but she refuses.
I think you have to stay calm, expose her to positive images that are a representation of her beauty and reinforce that she is fine just the way she is. With your support, she will ease through this stage and grow to love and appreciate her difference.
I'll never forget hearing Vanessa Williams, the "beauty queen", talk about growing up wanting blond hair and blue eyes. It's a function of the society in which we live but ultimately, self love and acceptance is where you want your child to be.

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#8 of 35 Old 09-22-2008, 02:10 PM
 
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#9 of 35 Old 09-22-2008, 02:39 PM
 
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saw this on the front page and felt like I should jump in...

My blonde-haired, blue-eyed DD wants dark brown skin and black "spongey" hair (that's how she describes her bf's hair). I think it is fairly common, and perhaps just a way of acknowledging differences/similarities. We have our battles because she wants braids all the time and her hair just won't hold them. I actually got a few braids to stay in one day, and she bragged ALL day, to everyone how she had hair just like D (a different AA friend)... She's actually asked me to paint her skin brown, and got really upset when I said it wouldn't exactly work.... btw, she's 3.

Anyway, it's not just the minority girls. I always wanted straight black hair, and golden skin... "Exotic beauty" is, IMO, pushed on us white gals. It's that american beauty culture that says no matter how beautiful you are, you aren't as beautiful as this other group

---feeling like an emu on acid---
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#10 of 35 Old 09-22-2008, 04:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies!

I do think it is somewhat normal as well . . .like I said, my sister wanted to be a blonde, and I wanted to be Native American. Don't ask me from which nation, but I remember reading the cheesy readers about NAs (and crying). We lived right by the American Indian Center in Chicago and were frequent visitors. I also cried when I found out I wasn't Mexican. (I think I cried a lot!) I went to school with almost all Latinos, and my babysitter, whom I loved was Mexican, and I was raised to be bilingual.

BUT, to me, I guess what gives me pause is that while white people (inc. myself) may wish to be different, they STILL turn on the TV, read books, see people (DD's school is 50% white), etc. who look like they do. Take American Girls . ..they make a few token American girls of color, but let's face it, almost all of them are white (and no Asians, mind you, minus one you can make yourself). And who is the most famous girl right now? The one with the brown hair who puts on a blond wig so that she'll look like a STAR (yes, Hannah M. , who is not allowed in our house).

Discussing famous Asians or studying Korean culture doesn't seem to quite fit. DH was adopted, so the Korean culture is completely absent from our lives. DH has no interest in it, no feeling of connection to being Korean.

Laura, most of my good friends just happen to have children like mine. However, they are not local friends, so we don't see each other too often. DH was adopted so we have no other Asian family members.

kavitha, that was a great idea, to look up organizations for people who are multiracial. Thank you to you and Raincoastmama for those links! I was doing searches for "HAPA" and apparently, some Hawaiian people are insulted that some people are using it to mean any Asian/white combo: http://www.realhapas.com/ So, I went to the "Amerasian" site listed on the site, and I find they are defining Amerasian as such:

While the definition of an Amerasian varies, the A.F.F. defines an Amerasian as: any person
who was fathered by a citizen of the United States (an American servicemen, American
expatriate, or U.S. Government Employee Regular or Contract) and whose mother is, or was, an
Asian National.

Obviously, DD does not fit into this at all.

Slightly off topic-- how do you bring up the idea of "you are beautiful" without making beauty a significant topic? Like you said, purplegirl, I want her to feel that self-love and acceptance.

Baby is awake, so I'm sorry I missed answering all posts but I read them all! Thank you!

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#11 of 35 Old 09-22-2008, 05:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Mizelenius View Post

Slightly off topic-- how do you bring up the idea of "you are beautiful" without making beauty a significant topic? Like you said, purplegirl, I want her to feel that self-love and acceptance.

Baby is awake, so I'm sorry I missed answering all posts but I read them all! Thank you!
How about talking about the things you love about yourself? Like if I did it with DD I'd say, I love my lips, I love the way my hips move or some other positive message and then ask her to tell me what she likes about herself, adding in what I like about her too...just an idea.
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#12 of 35 Old 09-22-2008, 05:37 PM
 
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#13 of 35 Old 09-22-2008, 09:59 PM
 
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I'm one of those terrible mainlanders that uses hapa.

What your daughter is verbalizing is normal. I remember going through the same thing. I remember wanting to look more like one ethnicity or another than to not be identifiable as anything at all.
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#14 of 35 Old 09-23-2008, 03:38 AM
 
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My eurasian son is only three years old, so I have not had to deal with this issue yet. But I worry that I will have to. American culture is, I think, friendlier to the idea of asian women than it is to the idea of asian men. We're seeing more and more asian women in our media, playing varied roles. But asian men (when they are featured) pretty much fit the same stereotype that they always have worn in American culture... and it's not necessarily an appealing one. The men on my side of the family do not fit that stereotype. Let's just say that my brothers don't exactly have any trouble finding themselves girlfriends. But DS's father is your typical all-American hottie... light hair, gorgeous blue eyes, etc. I worry that DS will look at his father and feel gypped that he didn't get those traits. No matter that his own eyes are a beautiful lustrous brown color, with eyelashes like a baby doll's, that his nose is shaped nicely like mine, and his lips are a full, gorgeous mix of both mine and his dad's. He still doesn't look like the magazine ads, or the tv/movie stars. I guess deep down, I'm afraid that he might end up blaming me. Or that because he looks more asian, that he's going to identify more with that side of him and alienate his dad's culture.

I think what the OP's DD is doing is normal for any child, but I feel it may lead to more internal conflicts for a biracial child. It still isn't a road that a parent would want their child to go down, especially not at so young an age. And yet the culture's influence is pretty much universal. You can only do so much to help them. I don't like it. I'll just have to figure out what to do when the time comes.
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#15 of 35 Old 09-23-2008, 04:40 AM
 
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OP... I wanted to say... have you ever seen the Dove commercial True Colors with all the little girls? Here it is on youtube in case you haven't seen it. I couldn't help but notice what race the child was who "wishes she was blonde." All the other little girls in the commercial were wishing for physical characteristics that didn't pertain to changing racial traits. In real life, a lot of the caucasian ladies here have mentioned wishing they were another race as children... but in this little example of media, that idea definitely wasn't highlighted. I guess the point that I am making is that while all children may want to look different, race adds an extra dimension to the issue that I think deserves attention apart from other insecurities.
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#16 of 35 Old 09-23-2008, 07:29 AM
 
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I found the book "Does Anybody Else Look Like Me? : A Parent's Guide to Raising Multiracial Children" by Donna Jackson Nakazawa to be interesting. She is a white American woman married to a Japanese (or Japanese-American, I forgot) man, and has two kids. You can look inside at Amazon or read and excerpt on Google books, if you want an idea of what she talks about. It's out of print, but a local library might have it; you can also buy a used copy.

The latest issue of Brain, Child magazine also has two interesting articles on racial issues, one of which is by an African-American woman married to a Finnish/other Euro-American, whose daughter has declared she wants to be white and it's too hard to be black.
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#17 of 35 Old 09-23-2008, 08:57 PM
 
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I have got to say that in the USA blond is a very powerful thing. Even amongst various european-americans blond is some how more EA. Even amongst WASPs blond is wealthier and purer WASP. Angels on the tops of christmas trees are blond; paintings of Jesus are blond; in almost every fairy tale illustration Cinderella is blond, and sleeping beauty is blond; Alice in wonderland is blond (real life Alice story was based on isn't though Barbie is blond; etc. Sure there is a black Angel sitting on the store shelf next to the empty space where the bolnd angels had been on Dec. 26, but she came with only oe option for dress color, so if you didn't want pink then you're getting blond. Yes, I do have a couple of copies of Cinderella where she isn't blond, in one she is a penguin and in the other she is a tyrannosuarus rex.

I'm pretty darn white (3/4 irish-american 1/4 WASP,) but I'm not blond (crazy redhead) and I felt the want to be blond burden even growing up in very diverse neighborhoods.

I'm not too worried about DS, he's a boy they don't get ths kind of preasure. Also he is far from the only eur-asian kid around. For girls though I think that it's going to be a few generations before blond just becomes another hair color amongst many.

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#18 of 35 Old 09-27-2008, 09:08 PM
 
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It's not just the US. My good friend's daughter is half white, half Ghanaian and not yet four. She talks a lot about wanting straight blond hair and really hates her beautiful dark curls. We live in Asia in a very international community, so it's not like she's in a very monocultural environment.
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#19 of 35 Old 09-29-2008, 10:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, everyone!

We used a free online program to show DD what she would look like with blonde hair. She liked it. But then I showed her the link from liliesandliars (THANK YOU) of the Dove commercial. She was very moved . . .when she read the part "she thinks she's fat" DD said, "but she isn't fat!" At that moment she got the point. She wants me to put it on her IPod type thing. She was so touched!

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#20 of 35 Old 09-30-2008, 04:35 AM
 
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OOOh can you post that link that you used - dd wants to be blond (in fact so does her bf) dd's half north african half scottish, we keep telling her that she's a blend of our love but it's not convincing - she wants to be like the girl who does the wheel of fortune, big busty blond, that whole barbie image! So if we could show her what she looked like with blond hair she so much desires then she may change her mind .... or not?!

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#21 of 35 Old 09-30-2008, 09:31 AM
 
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Have you ever looked at http://kimchimamas.typepad.com/ ? It's a site for Korean Americans and they discuss the kind of things you and your DD are going through.
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#22 of 35 Old 10-05-2008, 01:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OOOh can you post that link that you used - dd wants to be blond (in fact so does her bf) dd's half north african half scottish, we keep telling her that she's a blend of our love but it's not convincing - she wants to be like the girl who does the wheel of fortune, big busty blond, that whole barbie image! So if we could show her what she looked like with blond hair she so much desires then she may change her mind .... or not?!
This is what we used but it was just the first one I found . . .there may be a better free one out there!

http://www.dailymakeover.com/

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#23 of 35 Old 10-05-2008, 01:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Have you ever looked at http://kimchimamas.typepad.com/ ? It's a site for Korean Americans and they discuss the kind of things you and your DD are going through.
Interesting! Thank you!

Today I took the DDs to a Japanese mall (my 2nd DD is obsessed with Japan . . .). After awhile, looking around at the majority of the fellow shoppers, DD1 said, "Well, I guess I look Asian. I wish I had black hair, though!" We picked up a magazine for the ride home, and DD was excited that there was someone in the magazine who looked like her.

I think I've been underestimating her needs to see more evidence of the presence of Asian-Americans.

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#24 of 35 Old 10-07-2008, 05:07 PM
 
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I grew up in a school 40% black, 10% Native, 10% hispanic. I was one of 2 redheads in k-5. I DESPERATELY wanted dark hair. Either stick staight, or "real" curls, as mine is in between. I took any comment about my pale skin like a knife in the heart.

Yes, I think what your daughter is going through is normal. Yes, I think you should be concerned!! It took me years of dieting, drugs, hair dye and exploitive relationships to realize that I am fine just the way I am. Looks aren't everything, and I don't look too bad anyway.

I think positive role models are the way to go. Are you anywhere near a Korean community? Do you have Asiandescent friends who have dealt with growing up in America? Most military communities have a pretty good size Korean community. Good luck

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#25 of 35 Old 10-09-2008, 10:34 PM
 
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Oh my goodness! If I had a dollar (or even 50 cents) for every time I wished I was pale, blonde and blue (or green) eyed or deep dark brown with black hair and eyes, I would never have had to work a day in my life. I'm Irish and Native, I've got dark(er) skin and a TON of feckles, dark hair, dark eyes. I'm just brown, brown, brown. Kids in school actually used to ask "WHAT are you?" They told me I looked dirty, ugly and strange. I wished and wished to have lovely milky skin and bouncey curly hair. I also wished and wished to have deep, dark skin and cool fuzzy hair. I hated being someplace in the middle with nothing that pointed one way or the other. It's perfectly normal for people to wish they were something else. It's only recently that I (at 32) looked in the mirror and thought "Heck, If I throw out everything that 'society' teaches about beauty, I'm pretty damn sexy." I'll have to check out that dove commercial at my mom's place since I'm on dial-up here.

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#26 of 35 Old 10-10-2008, 02:54 AM
 
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I'm from NZ, I grew up wanting blue eyes like my white dad, I didn't want my mother to be Maori I wanted to be someone more exotic like a Native American. I didn't like people asking me what I was. I ended up in tears in school once because a teacher old me I could only tick one box on the ethnicity question and I should choose Maori. (I deliberately didn't!) I think it's all too common for minority cultures to want to blend into the majority. You just need to reinforce your culture because when your children are older then they will probably want to know more about it, and be proud of being whatever their culture is.
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#27 of 35 Old 10-17-2008, 04:02 AM
 
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Mizelenius, my dd is also Asian-Caucasian mix and was about 4 years old when she came home from preschool telling me she wanted white skin. What really helped her was I explained all about what skin color is for. You know, that there is melanin in your skin which protects your skin, and people with more melanin have better protection. I pointed out to her that her best friend (very pale) gets sunburned easily and she does not. She really liked that. To this day, she uses the brown crayon to color her skin when she draws self-portraits (she's not really brown, she's more tan but it shows she is identifying as dark).

A lot of it is personality, though. That approach worked for my dd but may not resonate with yours. Still, I thought I'd mention it.
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#28 of 35 Old 10-21-2008, 02:00 PM
 
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Well of course it is normal if a kid that is starting to experiment with the person he is, starting to grow up and being open to the world, makes himself/herself questions about him and about the things that make him different from the rest of the world.

If your girl thinks she's not pretty because have an Asian part you have to show her that is precisely her difference that thing that make her prettiest from a majority of girls which don't have, like her, a very special look.
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#29 of 35 Old 12-02-2008, 03:14 AM
 
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Originally Posted by liliesandliars View Post
My eurasian son is only three years old, so I have not had to deal with this issue yet. But I worry that I will have to. American culture is, I think, friendlier to the idea of asian women than it is to the idea of asian men. We're seeing more and more asian women in our media, playing varied roles. But asian men (when they are featured) pretty much fit the same stereotype that they always have worn in American culture... and it's not necessarily an appealing one.
lilies.. -- I've been thinking a lot about this. My kids are Hapa, like yours -- my husband is from Korea, and I am white. My son, who is 7, always chooses the blonde boy game piece when we play chutes and ladders. When I ask him why, he says he doesn't know. However, my daughter, who is 4, has a lot of Asian dolls, Asian Barbies, and I always point out that I think the Asian ones are really beautiful because they look like her. My son and I haven't had as much of an ongoing dialogue about it, because as he was growing up he loved trains, and Thomas the Tank, which wasn't a particular race (LOL), and Transformers, etc.... -- I didn't have as much of an opportunity to buy "Asian" dolls for him because there wasn't Asian versions of the stuff he played with. Now I regret it because I think deep down he may have an issue that's not going to come out till preteen years. I just get the hunch with the way he always picks the blonde boy game piece. I do make sure he watches some Asian cartoons, and that sort of thing, on the Disney Channel and also other kids channels. But I think I need to do a better job with him.

One thing that I hope will help is that I want to start him in Tae Kwon Do, to try it out. Since it is a Korean martial art, I'm hoping there might be other Korean boys there. Or other Hapa boys.

Anyway, to the original starter of the thread, I do think it's really important to make sure your Hapa children are surrounded by images of other Hapa people, or other Asian people -- because the white part of their identity will come by default. Just growing up in the U.S., the white identity is still the hedgemonic image you grow up with in the American media, etc..., although it is changing for the better. Still, most toys and images are white. I'm really conscious of it, and I go so far as to make a point to not buy art, Christmas cards, etc., that have only images of white people, to hang in my home, because I don't want my hapa kids to think that white is the standard of beauty. As I said, I think I haven't done as good of a job with my son, though, because I don't think he's getting enough positive Asian/Hapa Male images around him in the media and pop-culture. I need to point them out more to him.
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#30 of 35 Old 12-03-2008, 02:50 PM
 
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I went through the same thing as a child. It does seem typical with multi-ethnic kids, but we do rise above it.

Mom always told us how beautiful we were (handsome in the case of my brother), and I always got compliments from adults on my hair and skin. We also did a lot of cultural study.

Now I look at my mixed-heritage self with pride!
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