Last week my daughter told me that her skin color is different from her friends. I was concerned, and this was our topic of discussion every now and then when I picked her up from school. I didn’t know how to handle this. I grew up in an environment where all the people around looked like me and never had this challenge as a part of my childhood.
It is not just about appearance, it is also about the food we pack for our children in their lunch boxes, the language we speak, and many other cultural things we do that raise questions as well.
We Asian moms are not the only ones facing these questions. Women of many other races deal with similar problems while raising their kids in the U.S. We cannot change the way our children look, but we do bring some changes in our lifestyle. Celebrating American festivals, eating American food, or watching ‘Super Bowl’ with our kids have become a part of our lives.
What about the things we cannot change? How should we handle their concerns about looking different from their friends? I have some suggestions which will be helpful in making our children confident about the way they look.
Do Not Shy Away From These Conversations. When your children talk to you about their different skin color, listen to them. Do not avoid the situation. Tell them that we may look different from outside but we are all same inside. Assure them that there is nothing wrong in being different. Have these conversations with your children on a regular basis, but do not overdo it.
Talk About Their Issues By Giving Examples. Do not give long philosophical lectures, they will not understand them. Talk to them as issues emerge by giving examples of things around them, so that they can relate and understand. For example, talk about people they know and who can be their role models.
Make Them Feel Good About Themselves. Educate your children about the good things in your culture, things that they can feel proud of. Repeated positive reinforcement about their bodies, their culture and their roots will make them confident. Tell them that what matters most is to be good, by giving examples of little acts of kindness that they can do.
Be Confident Role Models For Them. We Asian moms can bring a huge positive change in the lives of our children by being confident role models for them. Our kids learn a lot from us by watching how we behave in different situations. If we are confident about our appearance, it will automatically effect our children’s perception about their looks.
Educate Them About Different Cultures. Expose your children to different cultures by reading books, taking them to different countries for vacations, watching multicultural shows on television, and interacting with people of different cultures. This will not only educate them about the diversity in the world, but also make them confident about themselves looking different from others.
Do you have more ideas on how to talk to our children about looking different from their friends, let’s discuss them.
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