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Wednesday, February 27th, 2013
Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, believes that children do see skin color and that it’s up to parents to teach them it doesn’t matter.
I don’t generally get worked up over things I read on Facebook but earlier this month a friend posted something that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind.
My friend was with her girls at the playground. A little girl with blonde hair approached her and asked if she was the girls’ mom or their babysitter. When my friend told the little girl that she was their mother the little girl said: “Well they look different than you. You know, their skin is darker and yours is like mine.”
My friend looks similar to me. She’s a taller-than-average white girl with shoulder-length brown hair and fair skin. Her daughters are both blessed with beautiful dark brown hair and skin that’s a creamy shade of caramel. What I would give for skin like that. Those lucky little ladies got it from their father whose family comes from Ecuador (though he’s pretty light himself).
One of the cool things about my friend is that she doesn’t have thin skin, fair though it may be. But something about her encounter with the little girl left her feeling sad. After explaining the scenario on Facebook she wrote: “I can only say that for various reasons, I don’t think that what happened this afternoon was a clear cut case of either curiosity or prejudice.”
Most of the people who commented on my friend’s post saw the exchange as a “teachable moment.” But one woman had this to say:
“[Y]ou taught that little bigot about life. What difference does skin color make…. Most young children do not see skin color unless some adult brought it to there [sic] attention.”
I wasn’t at the playground that day so I can’t speak to the girl’s tone or demeanor but to call a little girl a bigot? Wow. That’s harsh. And to say that children do not see skin color is simply wrong. They just don’t form judgments about people based on skin color. They can’t, because they have no framework in which to do so.
That’s where parents come in. It’s up to us to teach our children that color is, quite literally, only skin deep. It’s up to us to teach them that people come in all colors, shapes and sizes but that skin color and physical characteristics do not define a person. It’s up to us to teach our children that while every person is unique, we are all equal.
Children learn and form assumptions about the world based on what they observe. They just haven’t developed a brain-to-mouth filter that keeps them from asking blunt questions.
In the case of the little girl at the playground, it seems to me that she did the best thing she could have done. She noticed a difference in skin color between my friend and her daughters and asked about it. She made a blunt comment about the difference but her comment, at least as I read it, was free of judgment.
What do you think?
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assumption, black, curiosity, dark, different, equal, fair, feeling, judgment, light, mom, mother, playground, prejudice, sad, skin, skin color, skin deep, teach, white | Categories:
Cynthia's Guest Blog, Mom Situations, Must Read
Sunday, June 26th, 2011
I’m pretty blown away by all the comments we’ve received (and I say that collectively, because many of us are commenting on each others comments as well). These three posts over the course of one week have caused quite a stir. We’ve had the good, bad and ugly.
I bow to so many of you for commenting in such eloquent, meaningful ways. Everything from sharing your story as a SAHM because your child has autism, seizures and cancer (there were a few of you and my heart goes out to how brave and strong you are. Those are not easy cards to be dealt. For me, unimaginable)– to those who feel privileged to be at home or at an office working. Or at home working. It sounds like for most of us, the arrangements we have fit our lifestyle. And that judgment isn’t necessary. Yet we do it anyway.
Why is it so hard not to judge? I have to catch myself all the time. Even the way I judge other members of my family or my neighbors–even my friends. I don’t know why it is human nature to feel superior. But for many of us, it is. Perhaps it’s insecurity or justification, but sometimes it just comes down to thinking your way is right and others are wrong. Why can’t it be that your way is right and other people’s ways are also right? It’s a work in progress for me.
I think the other theme I picked up on, particularly from the SAHMs is the lack of recognition they receive. And again, why is it that we feel such a need? Is it because the working people of the world get a tangible reward, i.e.: a pay raise, a compliment or a trophy? I know we moms get our kisses and hugs, which in many ways mean so much more, but it IS hard to not be recognized by your peers, your husband, your family when the job your doing is exhausting, and at times, thankless.
I took Fia to my in-laws this spring (a plane ride away), by myself. My husband was on a deadline. I went for two reasons: so that they could see her and so we could both be pampered. Yet, I was fishing for compliments from my husband on how above-and-beyond I was going.
“My mom friends told me how cool it is for me to be flying Fia to Wisconsin to see your parents.”
“But you want to go,” he replied, seeming puzzled.
“I know, but still don’t you think what I’m doing is pretty great?”
“Yeah, I love that you’re doing it, but it’s also benefiting you.”
Not exactly the response I was looking for. But in all honesty, I had 24 hour childcare (oh no, here we go again with that bad word. Kidding), time to write, workout, and just hang out and relax. It was great. Why do I feel like I needed to be recognized as a hero? To be told I’m wife and daughter-in-law of the year?
These are all questions we can continue to ask each other and ourselves. Let’s just try and be kind about it. Like I said in one of my comments, you catch more bees with honey than vinegar…. Plus, it tastes better too.
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baby, babysitters, being a mom, diaper, diaper bag, judgment, judgmental, judgmental moms, lack of recognition, mom, motherhood, recognition | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, The Sitter Chronicles
Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
I have a job. Actually several. One is this blog. Another is in television. In addition, there’s my job of being a parent. And a wife. And taking care of Wayne Sanchez.
Yet, when it comes to the “professional” jobs, why do I feel judgment from “the other side?” I’m talking about the SAHM (Stay At Home Moms). Not all obviously, but enough to warrant a post on the topic.
On a typical week, I work 40+ hours at my professional jobs. I have sitters for 15 of those hours. Could I have them more? Absolutely. But I like to maximize my time with Fia. I grab other hours during her naptime and at night. In other words, I am just like many of you. Juggling, wearing many hats and trying to find that balance. Yet you can see how quickly I was fed to the wolves at the mere suggestion that perhaps a sitter has faults. And rather than addressing that, I got attacked by a bunch of you for not being with my child all 168 hours of the week.
Why were so many of the comments directed to the fact that I have a sitter? And that I don’t define my life solely based on the birth of my child? Here are some examples:
“…If she actually did it [take care of her child] day in and day out, I’m sure she would consider it a job.”
Oooh, ouch. You can read more of Part 2 to see what I said about that.
“There is always taking care of your own kids…”
“Since it would seem that you just want to fuss about it, sounds like the mom thing may not be your “bag” either.”
But this is my favorite:
“I honestly don’t think anyone should have a “parenting blog” unless they are a stay-at-home-mom/dad. Because only then can they make an entire blog about the day to day life of their kids and what it’s actually like.”
When did this SAHM get so entitled that it is her way or the highway? And that the only perspective on parenthood is from someone who doesn’t work outside the house? Granted this was an extreme comment, but it begs the question: is Parenthood a dictatorship? Is only one person’s parenting style worth hearing? I don’t think so. There are thousands of ways to parent, all with their good and bad points.
In the 200 comments that were posted on this blog and facebook, I never saw one “professional” working woman criticizing the fact that I have a sitter (because frankly, that wasn’t the point of the blog). Yet, there is clearly some bitterness, judgment, maybe resentment?? in some of these comments. And this isn’t the only place. I hear it on playgrounds, in coffee shops, and as you can see–all over the Internet.
I admit, I have it good. I fall between the SAHM and Working Mom. But there are plenty of others who have to work far more taxing hours outside the home. Some by choice, others because they need to feed and clothe their children. And guess what my friends who do it by choice say? It makes them a better MOM. That’s right. It is their way of getting balance and perspective, and space to breathe.
Trust me, I sometimes think that my mom friends who have full time nannies are missing out. And they are on some level. But what might they be gaining in return? And teaching their kids about life? Independence? Not to mention the financial contribution to their household. There’s also self-esteem and confidence to consider.
I guess what I really want to know is why is there such a debate between us? Aren’t we moms members of the biggest club in the world? Aren’t we supposed to be the biggest cheerleaders for each other? Why do we ridicule, judge and jump so quickly to conclusions?
When I had Fia, I made a decision to have help. I knew I would still need a creative outlet. And I guarantee I’m a better parent because of it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
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babysitter, balance, judgment, judgmental moms, nannies, nanny, outside the home, parenting, parenting blog, professional, professional job, sahm, sitter, stay at home mom, working mom, working woman | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Must Read