Teaching my child about our different colors of skin...

  1. This is a such a sensitive issue and I am having a hell of a problem.

    My 5-year-old came home the other day and randomly told me that he wanted a "white" brother. (We've been talking about having another child.)

    LET ME STOP HERE. I do not mean to offend ANYONE. I am in need of help in how to explain to my son that color is just that, a color, and that it is not important, not a label, not anything but just that. I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!

    Then today he told me that "brown" Zachary was coming to his birthday party tomorrow. I CAN'T MAKE THIS STOP!

    I have tried to explain to him that this is of no importance and that he cannot say those things, but I can't seem to get through his 5-yr-old head. I NEED HELP.

    Thank you to anyone who can give me advice. I am so thankful that he goes to school with such a diverse group of children but I was not expecting this. I just need to know how to explain this. I understand that right now is the most important time of his little life and that what I teach him or what he learns elsewhere will mold his life forever. It is just so important that I get this one right.
     
  2. Don't start talking to him about color. Show him a map of the world, or a globe. Show him different countries and regions, and explain to him that people come from different places.

    Explain that usually people who live closest to the equator had skins of darker color, and if he asks why African-Americans are living in a place that is not close to the equator, tell him that they came over from Africa many years ago.

    So ask him whether it is important whether his friend comes from, say, a block away from your house or two blocks away? He'll probably say no. Then tell him that it is not important where people (or their ancestors) came from - hence their skin color, but they are all his friends.

    This is what I did to my son when he asked me the same kind of question, and after that not only did he stop querying skin color, but also developed a great interest in geography!
     
  3. Oh my gosh. Thank you SO much...this is such a great place for us to start! I am so afraid that someone will take offense to this but this is my reality. I have been able to come here and see other situations that are "sensitive" or whatever and I thank you so much for taking the time to answer this. This is truly a great idea and I look forward to sharing this with my husband!
     
  4. Wow, Merika.. that was great advice.. especially the tip about using a map/globe and explaining that people from different places come in different "shades/colors", but they are all human and equals :heart:
     
  5. I was always afraid of this with my two children too, they are 6 and 7 now.

    Since they were able to tell different colors...I made a point of NOT making a point about color.

    I have always said that all people are different (not just singling out color) and that some are big, small, short, tall, large, not large, etc. I never acted or pointed out anything about color and consequently they have grown up not really thinking anything at all about colors. They have known from 2 years old that the world has all sorts of different people in it and thankfully, they truely don't see a difference.
     
  6. Please don't use the melting pot analogy to illustrate the point that everyone is the same, because people are not the same. They're different, and the beauty is in celebrating those differences.

    Show him pictures of children of different races in a book or a magazine and say things like, "That little girl is playing with their doll."


    Show him pictures of children with their families and tell him that they all have mommies and daddies.
     
  7. Great advice Merika!!! My niece and nephew are going through the same phase. They are "brown" and live in a very affluent neighborhood which is 99.9% white. My niece is not understanding why she doesn't have blue eyes and she wants blue eyes soooooo bad. She is so fixated on this! I will forward this advice to her mom.
     
  8. It's nice to be able to explain to kids that everyone is different etcetra but at that age, they just want to be like all the other kids that they see.

    My son had the same questions because he (and I) are South Asian and look pretty much like your average person from India. We live in an almost all-white neighbourhood and my son could simply not understand why he looked different. However much I told him that every person was different he wanted to be like all the other kids he saw, who were all white! He didn't understand though I told him some were tall, some were short etc etc but they were all white, most were blonde and he was dark...I even caught him scrubbing extra hard in the shower in an attempt to be more like his new-found friends.

    Now of course he couldn't care less about what color anyone is...and if someone happens to introduce themselves as being from a particular country, he can say which continent it is in!
     
  9. It doesn't sound like he is especially bothered by it, just becoming aware of it.

    I think I would show him his closet, how cool it is that he has so many different colors of shirts, pants, etc, and note that it is also cool that earth has so many different colors of people. Collect 'em all!

    And you can also explain that in a way, he already has millions of white brothers, millions of brown ones, and squillions and squillions of versatile go-with-everything beige!

    As for the brother he gets that lives in the house, I think this would be a good teaching moment for learning about Gregor Mendel, and DNA, maybe a neighbor's pet has reproduced, and you can talk about the different kinds of fur there are, and colors, and spots, and even though as humans, we don't get fur all over and spots, unless you count freckles, we do get to come in different colors, and they all rock!
     
  10. First of all, in your son's defence, I think it is actually very sweet that he talks about 'brown Zachary' in such a completely innocent way. :smile:

    I think we need to remember that children are generally not born with the PC gene and he is just saying what he sees.

    There is nothing wrong with being (and seeing) shades of brown, or beige, or tan, or pinkish beige, or olive beige, or cream, or whatever; it is only our adult brains that have been told that we should ignore skin tones completely and take offence if anyone decribes us by our actual colour.

    Just because he has not, instantly, taken your instruction to never refer to someone by their literal colour to heart, I'm sure you know that it doesn't mean, for one minute, that he will grow up to be racist - far from it, in fact.

    Unfortunately, I would expect a child from a racist family (who might well also grow up to be racist :sad: ) to already be pretty aware of, what he has been told are, the 'differences' between the races and not at all in the innocent way your son is.

    merika - your advice was absolutely spot-on, IMO and I really couldn't have said it better (or as well), myself. :biggrin:
     
  11. I want to first express my sincere gratitude to all of you who have shared your stories and ideas. :flowers:

    I always tend to put the cart before the horse, and chloehandbags, THANK YOU for setting me straight with this one!! :girlsigh: You are so right, at his age, I am sure that this is a very innocent observation. Hearing this from him made me see this as a negative thing (I was afraid that this was a sign of him heading in the wrong direction), but oh, how I have the chance to see that it is probably not the case and how I can make this such a positive experience for both him and my family.

    Thank you!! Indeed, I look forward to everyone's responses as we have a great chance to learn from evryone's personal experiences! :happydance:
     
  12. Totally agree! My ex-bf's mother told me an embarassing story about something he said when he was young...apparently he saw a black person for the first time, and innocently asked his mom, "Why is that boy so dirty?"

    Kids may not mean harm, but it's good to start teaching them with the globe like the others suggested. Good luck!!:smile:
     
  13. My son used to describe ppl by colors when he was 4 or 5. He'll say "that white Kid" or "black boy" to describe ppl. One day, he was chasing this asian boy whom he did not know the name and yelling "Hey white boy, wait for me". The boy was wearing a white shirt.:sweatdrop: :confused1: :biggrin:
     
  14. my son is at this stage too. He has one African American boy in his class and at the start of the year when he didnt know this boy, he saw another African American boy at school and said really loud, hey that's so and so from my class. I had to correct him and say no that's not him and his reply was.......but his face is brown like his. This is such a touchy subject and agree that it's hard to talk and explain stuff like this to a 5/6 year old. He did ask me the other day while we were out shopping if I had a "pee pee" like he has one. OMG, I'm so not ready for this stuff!!
     
  15. Merika! That is such great advice!!! I can't say anymore!!!:smile: