How do I approach my four yo daughter about skin color?

Angela - posted on 04/24/2017 ( 10 moms have responded )

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Hello moms,

I am struggling to know how to handle my four year old daughters identity crisis. She has recently started telling me that she doesn't like her brown skin, and that she wants to have white skin like mommy. We do not ever speak like this and I have no idea why she feels this way. We (my husband and I) are always telling her that she is beautiful inside and out, but that obviously isn't connecting with her. I am not with her father who is also biracial (black and white), and I have married a white man. I am so scared that when he and I have a child, she will become even more troubled by this. Please help me with this issue, especially if anyone has faced this before! I do thank you all in advance for sharing.

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Sarah - posted on 04/25/2017

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I don't see any other suggestions or solutions to this issue. I made a suggestion. There is a reason these threads are not private...so we can build upon each other's comments. I simply stated that berating a mother for not doing something earlier was really not helpful. She needs ideas on how to help her child now. It was not an attack, just a comment.
ETA I did say in my first post that she should have addressed this from the get go....but since she had not, I made the best suggestion I could think of.

Dove - posted on 04/25/2017

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Nikki... the child is FOUR. I highly doubt she's scarred for life. People make mistakes all the time. Berating them for the past does no one any good. Sarah's first comment was advice for the OP. Your first comment was to insult the OP... so how are you better than Sarah?

By the way... anyone can respond to anything they want on here. Part of the joys of the internet. ;)

OP... I agree w/ Sarah. What's done is done. All you can do is move forward. The photo album is an excellent idea... as is pointing out people out in the world that are different colors and different shades of the same color. I do not know your religious views, but if your family believes in God you can also incorporate how He has colored ALL of nature according to His will and it's all beautiful... especially people. Or something like that.

Sarah - posted on 04/24/2017

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I work as a school nurse in a large, multicultural area. First, IMO you should have talked about her mixed race from the get go. Laying the truth out on table always makes this sort of stuff easier. It is VERY normal for her to identify with and want to be like her same gendered parent. Does she know who her father is and what he looks like? Maybe it is time to make a photo album of all of her relatives and explain to her why she looks like she does. I care for white kids with ethnic parents, ethnic looking kids with white parents, biracial with not biracial parents. Talk about it, tell her how lovely she, how lucky she is to be part of more than one group. She will push through

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Sarah - posted on 04/27/2017

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After some more thought I want to add just a bit more. I remember at around 5 (kindergarten) I hated my freckles and curls. My sisters had fair skin, wavy or straight hair and no freckles. I wanted to look like them even though everyone raved about my curls and cute freckles. So while I don't have another idea other than a photo album and family tree; I'd suggest this is a temporary thing. If you have raised her to love herself and that she is lovely inside and out, she will probably have good self-esteem. This issue may rear its head at times, and all any parent can really do it keep on with encouragement and positive self-worth.

Ev - posted on 04/26/2017

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Nikki--I read the posts here and you have posted what is clearly words that berate someone rather than help them. I would have made the same suggestions that have been made by Sarah and Dove.

To the OP: You need to talk to your child and explain on terms she can understand that though she is different in color, she is still very much loved and that the world is full of people that are of different colors. Even those born with parents of the same race can end up being lighter or darker than their parents. You need to also talk to her about her father and if he is near by maybe start some visits for her to get to know him and his family.

Dove - posted on 04/25/2017

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So what is YOUR solution then? All you have done is berate everyone that has commented... If you are such a damn expert then why don't you help the OP instead of acting like a creep?

No, I don't have any solutions... and I'm not about to pretend like I have all the answers in life or that I'm better than anyone else (unlike how you are presenting yourself). I DO, however, have 23 years of experience in taking care of children and how they are at 4 years old is almost always a far cry off from how they are as older children, teens, and adults. IF the OP takes the right approach (hello? Kind of why she's posting.. because she wants to HELP her child) from here on out the likelihood that her child is fine is VERY high.

Since you have so much more experience why don't you offer advice instead of criticism... or would you have to fall off your high horse in order to accomplish that task?

Nikki - posted on 04/25/2017

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The only thing i agree with you on Dove is that one of the many joys of the internet is that i can say what i want to say REGARDLESS of how you or aaannyyone else feels. Have you raised a child of color? How do you know if she'll be scarred for life? Do you know anything about self identity when it comes to children of color? ESPECIALLY when their own family doesn't look like them? I HIGHLY doubt it, because only a naive person would make the statement that you made. She should have been proactive, period point blank. The fact that between the two of you, no make that three because Angela doesnt have any ideas either, the only idea you could come up with was a photo album...THATS the issue in and of itself! That does nothing for a child that has already, not only recognized that they are different, but doesnt like themselves because of it. Whats your solution for that? I'll wait...

Nikki - posted on 04/25/2017

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I personally know tons of women that would've handled raising their bi-racial kids a different way. The "problem" wouldn't exist if she thought twice about her own child from the start. Help me understand why you are responding to me....shouldn't you be responding to Angela, and helping with a "solution"?....hmm.

Sarah - posted on 04/25/2017

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What is done is done, and I don't think I know a mother that would not have done something different in the course of raising her kids. Why be critical now? it does not help nor solve the problem.

Nikki - posted on 04/25/2017

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I'm confused about why this is such an urgent issue now!?!. You had a child with a man that isn't fully white and you haven't thought about how your own child will grow up basically being a child of color? Do you even incorporate any of her heritage into her daily life? Probably not..shame on you. You're gonna have a hard time reversing how she feels now. You should have been proactive. How irresponsible.

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