To place a complaint or gently confront this lady?

(39 Posts)
ShineSmile Fri 13-Jun-14 11:23:24

I've recently started attending a local children's centre where I've had a few unpleasant encounters with the lady leading the mother and toddler sessions.

She is very friendly towards the other participants and other people's babies (will make an extra effort to greet them, chat to them and make eye contact with them). However, with me and my daughter, she completely ignores us. The first time it happened I gave her the benefit of the doubt, and to he honest I'm too thick skinned to take offence, but when she makes no eye contact at all with my daughter (12 months) whilst singing, interacting and smiling with ALL the other babies/toddlers (on average about 8), I was disturbed and a little upset, as my daughter noticed it too (and she is still very small). As polite manners go, I have made an extra effort to be nice to her ( I say hello and thank her after each session).

The only thing different about me is that I wear hijab (visibly Muslim) and I'm well spoken (but not in an in your face kind of way). Most of the other mums are foreigners (eastern europeans) and only one is English. Ironically it's an area that is mainly non white with plenty of Muslims and foreigners (but sadly a deprived area), and having moved just recently from a mainly white city, but a very well educated one (where I've had no problems at all), this has come as quite a surprise to me. I am used to being given the look, people ignoring me etc because I am a Muslim, but I feel quite upset that my daughter has to face this (or maybe it's all part of her learning/development too sadly?)

It doesn't help of course that the media is constantly (almost daily) on the case with Muslims (I avoid reading the news sometimes - it's just too depressing, and there's only so much defending you can do!). Furthermore, some politicians like Gove who use Muslim bashing for political gain, don't seem to realise the real life implications their outrageous comments have.

Considering that the children's centre is in an area where there are many Muslims, and based on my experience with her, AIBU to put in a complaint about this lady's behaviour, or should I confront her in a non confrontational manner (ask her if I've done something to upset her) or just let it go (as my mother would say, just leave it and move on)?

CrystalSkulls Fri 13-Jun-14 11:27:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Paq Fri 13-Jun-14 11:27:24

Gently have a word. You may be jumping to conclusions and you will never know unless you speak to her first.

Nancy66 Fri 13-Jun-14 11:28:50

I'd try talking to her direct in the first instance.

Maybe something like 'would you mind trying to involve my daughter more? I'm trying to build up her confidence and I think it would really help.'

or something similar. See how she responds.

WorraLiberty Fri 13-Jun-14 11:28:51

You're making a hell of a lot of assumptions about her.

How long have you been going to the group?

sillystring Fri 13-Jun-14 11:29:01

It's difficult. What exactly can you "complain" about and to? I assume she's acting in a voluntary role and doesn't have a line manager you could express your concerns to.

I don't mean to belittle your feelings but a lot of this might just be the way you're perceiving it, it would be very hard to prove the woman was behaving in any kind of racist manner to you based on "feeling ignored".

LiberalLibertine Fri 13-Jun-14 11:31:33

I'd go for confronting her, you shouldn't have to put up with it, nor should your daughter, I'm sorry you're having a hard time there, are others where you now live nicer?

If it doesn't improve try the library, they do free groups.

Virgolia Fri 13-Jun-14 11:38:17

This might be a stupid question but how has your daughter expressed that she's noticed? 12 months is really young isn't it.

I would ask her first instead of assuming anything

ikeaismylocal Fri 13-Jun-14 11:55:49

How unfair for you and your dd. From your posts it sounds like you are the only muslim parent at the group, is that right? That seems odd if it is an area with a large muslim population, maybe other muslim parents have attended but been treated the same sad

I understand your dd noticing people ignoring her even though she is little, my ds was very soical and would wave at people on the bus and then look disheartened if he was ignored.

I'm not really sure what the solution is. It sounds like her behaviour is subtle so you don't really have anything specific to report.

I take my ds to a toddler group which iss very culturally diverse, I am an immigrant in the country I live in, the lady who runs the group is really lovely most of the time but the other day asked me when I was planning on moving "home" I pointed out that Sweden is my home, dp is Swedish and ds is Swedish, she then went on to talk about her right wing (similar to ukip) political veiws shock I heared her have the same conversation with a Polish man later in the day. I just ignored her attitude, I love the group, it is really friendly and I like the fact that there are som many different languages spoken and different styles of parenting.

ShineSmile Fri 13-Jun-14 11:59:14

Thanks everyone. Of course there is no evidence, but to single us out from a small group consistently, is truly unfair and for me personally, is enough evidence that she has a problem with us.

My daughter can't express herself, but I have seen my DD trying to make eye contact with her and wave, and has been ignored.

I may be making assumptions as to why she is behaving in this manner, but surely this doesn't take away the fact that her behaviour is unprofessional and upsetting?

Virgolia Fri 13-Jun-14 12:01:15

Could she perhaps find you intimidating? I was surprised when someone told me they were scared of me at first and didn't want to speak to me because apparently I was intimidating - once I struck up a conversation with her she realised I was far from it.

I\m not excusing her behaviour by the way, especially as she isn't engaging with your daughter properly sad

I think I'd try and had a conversation with her, just about general things and see how she reacts and if she changes

Nancy66 Fri 13-Jun-14 12:01:39

If she is engaging with every child in a group of 8 bar your daughter then you're not imagining it!

ShineSmile Fri 13-Jun-14 12:04:00

ikeaismylocal, thanks for understanding. There was another Muslim lady I saw there on the 1st day, and the lady in question was abrupt and rude to her too. I never saw her again sadly.

I don't feel like going back there to be honest, but I don't want to turn a blind eye to it either. Even though I have no evidence, I do think the management should be aware of it (as an isolated case), as who knows, maybe there are others who have experienced the same, and have put a complaint in too?

CoffeeTea103 Fri 13-Jun-14 12:05:51

I'm sorry but I don't know what you're going to complain about. That she didn't look at you confused. I can't see how you are going to prove this. You've made some big assumptions. I also think it's best you find somewhere else.

efeslight Fri 13-Jun-14 12:05:56

I would try Nancy's suggestion above, My daughter loves the group so much and I would love to see her getting more involved...
How many children in the group? Is it difficult for her to engage with each child individually?

WorraLiberty Fri 13-Jun-14 12:06:50

How long have you been going there?

efeslight Fri 13-Jun-14 12:08:39

Or strike up a conversation about it being surprising there no other Muslim families there, if there is a big local population - her reaction might be interesting.

sezamcgregor Fri 13-Jun-14 12:13:01

Shine - She is probably a bit in awe of you and simply does not know what to say to you. There are so many prejudices about Muslims being batted about at the moment. I would try to have a word with her after (or before) the group.

Perhaps say that you've not had chance to speak to her properly yet, but you're Shine, so nice to come to your group and meet other mums. Perhaps mention that it's good to be somewhere that is so diverse - you know, we're all from different backgrounds, but we all have the same worries and concerns about our children. I think that once she sees you as a fellow woman, DD's mother, yourself and not just as "Muslim mum" she should stop judging you.

If it continues, take it further.

WooWooOwl Fri 13-Jun-14 12:13:14

I had a conversation with some friends (including a couple that are Muslim but not scarf wearing) recently about these types of issues.

One of the things that came up was that some women feel that other women who wear coverings may be making a silent but negative judgement against them because they are happy to wear vest tops and and shorts. I'm sure that's not the case for many people who do choose to wear hijab, because it's a personal choice that has no reflection on their opinions of other people, but I do think it's a valid point.

I have occasionally wondered if particular people who are obviously Muslim have thought less of me because I'm not dressed in a way they woudo consider to be modest.

With that in mind, I would probably continue as you are doing by being nice and polite, almost as if you're trying to kill this woman with kindness.

I don't think making a complaint or having a confrontation will help, it will just give her an actual reason (in her mind) to dislike you.

ikeaismylocal Fri 13-Jun-14 12:16:35

I think you should write a letter and explain how you felt, although there is possibly nothing specific that you can say your feelings are very important and you can't deny a person's feelings.

It may be that the woman is not aware that she comes accross this way, it will be useful for her to know her actions (or lack of actions) have been noticed.

ShineSmile Fri 13-Jun-14 12:17:23

I've been going for a month. I am far from intimidating, Virgolia smile I do look a bit sleepy though!

From a group of eight, ignoring one child is pretty obvious. Other parents must have noticed too.

I will try one more time to strike up a conversation with her and ask her the questions you have suggested, and if it doesn't work out, I will either move on elsewhere or give the children's centre feedback (maybe not a complaint) about my experience, so that they are aware of it, and then its up to them if they choose to bin it or do something with it.

ShineSmile Fri 13-Jun-14 12:22:21

WooWooOwl, thanks! I'd never thought of it like that. I would never ever judge a woman based on their clothing or any sort of physical appearance. I also know how it is to be at the receiving end of that. I love your suggestion that I should kill her with kindness (and this is what I would normally do!), but with a very demanding LO, it requires energy and time to make the effort to start a long conversation every time, but I will give it a shot! smile

sezamcgregor, love your suggestion, will do just that! smile Thank you.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Fri 13-Jun-14 12:25:03

These days if I feel shut out of a group, I accept that there are some situations I can't control. If I get on with enough members to conclude that the rest won't spoil my enjoyment, it is quite easy to think the cliquey few are a bunch of losers.

Whether the issue of being “shut out” is due to apathy by the woman leading the group, or that she senses your unease and doesn’t want to have to interact with you and DD, if you know she deliberately shuts you out, decide whether

(1) you will concentrate on the others and don't let her intimidate you , or

(2) it is time to just walk away and start looking for other social settings,

sezamcgregor Fri 13-Jun-14 12:25:10

SureStart is there to help. Not to judge. If she drives you away, the centre needs to know about it. I would also hunt down the other mum that you saw on your first visit and see if she'd like to go to the park one day smile

Intimidating isn't so much because you're a big, burly woman who looks like she might punch me - but perhaps if I compared it to one of the mums wearing a motorbike helmet to the sessions - it would make you a bit uncomfortable if you're not used to spending time with people who quite happily wear a motorbike helmet all of the time.

I read a really interesting article about a young journalist wearing a burka for a couple of days - people just do not know what their body language says to a person.

Perhaps she is avoiding you to avoid offending you - and instead doing the absolute opposite. She needs to see that you're still a person under your hijib - I hope it does work out for you. It would be such a shame otherwise

ShineSmile Fri 13-Jun-14 12:29:46

sezamcgregor, thank you. The hijab I wear is just a headscarf, it certainly doesn't cover my face! Its pale coloured, pretty and not intimidating in the least smile

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