Will my white children will be better off without a brown mum?

(85 Posts)
minervasmom Thu 28-Mar-13 15:37:55

Sorry for the dramatic headline but I do feel that way today.

Both my babies DD (4) and DS (1.5) are white, my son is even blond. I'm Bengali (and brown) and their Dad's English. DD is attending a very good school and there's a mix of family backgrounds among the kids in her class.

I find I'm constantly being "blanked" or snubbed by some mums both in and out of school. I've been trying to make friends/arrange playdates/have coffee mornings - I find it has helped the kids' friendships to ripen in the past if their parents socialise too. We don't have to like each other but at least make an effort.

I'm a friendly person, pretty extrovert and normally dress fairly nicely (you'll see why I'm saying this in a mo) so I'm starting to wonder if this is a race thing? I've never faced (or maybe never noticed) overt racism before (I used to work in Publishing so perhaps ivory tower etc.) So maybe I'm misreading this? and its not racism. Maybe it's just me? Really? How come I've not faced this sort of unfriendliness before? DD went to another state school briefly and I made loads of friends (of all ethnicities) and I was pretty popular at school/uni/work.

When we've had a babysitter take the kids out and she's white, the response they get is so different. Its as if the moment I appear on the scene, and claim them as mine, it sours everything. People's expressions change, they seem to turn cold. Of course there's the proverbial "are you the childminder" sort of shit I face everyday. I just ignore that.

Soon, DCs will be old enough to notice their mum being treated differently. And how it affects their social lives. And they will hate me and perhaps even avoid having me around because of it.

What other shit am I going to have to face because of this kind of prejudice, I wonder? It's a whole, new, ugly world to me.

littlehalo Thu 28-Mar-13 15:41:48

The short answer is no, from your OP alone you strike me as a bright, passionate and articulate person. Your children will feel nothing but pride for their Mum.

Sunnywithshowers Thu 28-Mar-13 15:46:09

Of course not - you're their mum and they love you. I'm sorry you're going through this, it's really shit.

catballou Thu 28-Mar-13 15:50:49

The kids love you because you're their mother. Anybody who blanks or snubs you because you are a different shade to them is not worth bothering about anyway. Genuine goodhearted people would never behave like this. You sound like a lovely person-try to overlook the ignorant clods!

ChunkyPickle Thu 28-Mar-13 15:56:06

This is a big supposition, but could it be them clamming up because they're uncomfortable about who you are? I didn't put that well, but in my experience Brits faced with what could be an awkward social position try to avoid it - so perhaps they're blanking you because they don't realise that you're just a normal mum from a normal family and they're inventing all kinds of exotic reasons that your kids look different to you?

They could also just be cliquey awful people..

I would generally judge myself to be friendly and outgoing, but DS has been going to nursery for 3 terms now, and I'm only just having an actual conversation with one of the mums (who I'd also bumped into in Tescos and Hospital so we had a few things we could chat about) - still only at the 'nodding hello' stage with the others, and no-where near a 'meeting for coffee' stage with any of them!

RubyrooUK Thu 28-Mar-13 15:57:12

No, of course your children won't be better off without you. You are their mum and that is what you will always be to them, not a skin colour.

I look 100% English Rose although my background is entirely mixed in all sorts of ways. We all came out different in my family. It's just how things are and certainly doesn't affect how much I love anyone. I'm very proud of my family.

Hopefully the parents at your child's new school are not horrible racists but simply too busy to make new friends and you are reading too much into it. If they are at all prejudiced, let's face it, you wouldn't want them as friends anyway.

Sorry you're feeling so shit. Hopefully someone will be along with more constructive advice soon.

TheGoatThatGotAway Thu 28-Mar-13 16:05:27

Posting in haste, but I just wanted to say I'm really sorry you're experiencing this. You sound great and your DCs can only be lucky to have you. They will be so much richer for having both backgrounds. Be proud smile

Blu Thu 28-Mar-13 16:06:08

How extremely upsetting!

I wonder what on earth is going on? Whether it is a mixture of total ignorance (that it is actually not un-common for dark skinned parents to have light skinned children) and snobbery, and they do assume, as you say, that you are not the mother. Perhaps they don't even 'see' you because they are assuming there is a white mum somewhere? And you are a random person not connected with their child's classmate? But I presume they have had plenty of opportunity to see you interact as the parent of your children.

Some particular vibe at this particular school?

What happens if you assertively introduuce yourself and say 'hello I'm XX's Mum, how did YY enjoy the football match / fire of london project?' or whatever? Do they still blank you?

To be honest, I would think you will always experience the odd uninformed comment - as the more predicatble combination of white mother of a half asian child I have heard a good range of comments that I bet people were kicking themselves for later. But basically people need to get with the plot: mixed race children is the fastest growing demography in my area of London, so there will be more kids who have the light skin gene in a multi-racial family.

I have no idea what to advise. But just wanted to say of course you are the best mum for your kids.

You need a poster called MotherInferior - I will see if i can summon her smile

drfayray Thu 28-Mar-13 16:11:37

I am Indian ( dark brown - see my pix) and ex was blond with blue eyes. My Dd was pink when she was born. Olive skin now though. When I was BFing her, one awful woman said, is that your baby?!angry

Just continue to be yourself. Of course your children will be proud of you - you sound great!

Moominsarehippos Thu 28-Mar-13 16:18:27

They assume that you are the childminder? Some people are a bit shitty to nannies/childminder - not necessarity a race thing.

One friend of mine (Indian, from India, and the dad Indian from France with a very 'English' son) was often asked by the kids if she was the nanny. Probably because the son had a very plumy english accent and she had a strong Indian one (plus she schlepped around in jeans and jumpers, whilst the other mums were dripping Gucci).

Another friend of mine (very dark of Indian origin) has two very blonde girls - she used to tell people that she's stolen them.

Don't change yourself for goodness sake to try to please these twits.

minervasmom Thu 28-Mar-13 16:32:48

Thank you for all your supportive responses so far, I'm feeling a little better already smile coming back to post some replies DS wants an orange.....

juneau Thu 28-Mar-13 16:35:26

It sounds to me like they're assuming that you're the nanny. Do they know that you're the DC's mother?

motherinferior Thu 28-Mar-13 16:37:14

Reporting as summoned!grin

OP, I am that child - my mum is Tamil, my dad is Anglo/Scandinavian and I am white. Really, really white. I will PM you with links to stuff I've written and you'll see how white - I look like I've stepped out of a poster for the Irish tourist boardgrin.

No, your children would NOT be better off with a white mum.

frogs Thu 28-Mar-13 16:43:02

Arf at MI stepping out of a poster for the Irish Tourist Board! She's not wrong, though. And can I just point out what a delightful and well-adjusted person she is, and a fabulous mum to her lovely kids? smile

motherinferior Thu 28-Mar-13 16:43:43

I hate this ignorance towards families like ours. My DP is half Bengali half English and he looks the way people expect - but our two daughters who are also ethnically half-Asian are white and one is blonde (and they are knock your socks off beautiful - I've got a list of hangups as long as your arm for being such a hideous white klutz but even I can see how lovely they are).

OP, stay strong for your kids too. Don't let them feel like something in a zoo. I do have hangups but they're about not being brown enough!

enormouse Thu 28-Mar-13 16:55:41

I think you sound like a fantastic mum op. My partner is white/Irish and I'm Indian and I can completely understand where you're coming from (the confused looks when we're with DS). Just stand proud next to your adorable, beautiful kids. Xx

VioletStar Thu 28-Mar-13 17:04:45

Another one here. My DD is an English rose and I and my DS are brown. DH is white, so we get a mixed bag in terms of who is Mum or Dad depending on which child we are with.
Ignore the ignorant. Enjoy your beautiful kids and keep talking to people. You'll soon be known as your XX's Mum and be moaning that you don't have a real name of your own! wink No way are your white kids better off without the brown you!

minervasmom Thu 28-Mar-13 17:12:13

@Chunkypickle - I didn't think of that, DH often tries to point out that a fear of "awkward social situations" can cause nice Brits to behave oddly. Your example of nursery non-socialising is quite illuminating, as well, difficult as it may be for you.

@Rubyroouk - I wish it was so! But they can't be simply too busy to say hello or be inclusive when I'm standing next to them and/or waiting to say something to them (and they blank me)

@Blu - you're right, I'm amazed at how much ignorance there is sad - fair-skinned children with darker parents are not a rarity anymore, certainly not in London.

@drfayray oh no how awful angry luckily no one dared say that while I BF DS (his blond head looking incongruous next to my brown skin probably smile )

@moominsarehippos - lol at "dripping Gucci" there may be some of that going on here.

@motherinferior - Hello there!! Yes please do tell me more, at the moment I'm not convinced at all that my children won't be ashamed of me in a few years time sad

Oh I am quite extrovert and have already introduced myself and/or started chatting in my best dinner party manner :D so yes these women do know I'm the Mom . We know each other' s names and everything. If this was a work situation, there would be a scandal, instead we're a bunch of SAHM's so it's ok to behave like this….?

I feel awful, because its becoming obvious that its me who is the problem, since they know I'm not the CM/nanny sad

motherinferior Thu 28-Mar-13 17:12:35

I'm writing a book about a lot of all this. We're the future, I tell yougrin

motherinferior Thu 28-Mar-13 17:14:07

I will PM you when I am not poleaxef with the period from hell!

louisianablue2000 Thu 28-Mar-13 17:21:04

I have a Spanish friend who is married to a Pole and has the blondest child in the world (she's the spit of her Dad). She doesn't have issues in the UK (she lives in a University city that is very multicultural) but when she goes back to Spain everyone assumes she's the nanny, she's given up telling people she's the Mum because no-one believes her!

Moknicker Thu 28-Mar-13 17:21:25

Absolutely no way. My kids have a brown mum (Im from Kerala) and a white dad so I talk from experience. There will always be the odd racist who will try to bring you down but it is important for your family that you treat it with the disdain that it deserves.

Be proud of who you are, your heritage and your children will be as well. That pride will let them (and you) deal with any bigots you come across.

Re the practical issue of the school - there are many many threads on here about people being blanked at school gates - most of them not because of race but just because it is an odd place. Keep smiling and making an effort and give it time - things will settle down and you will find friends among the nicer people at the school and there certainly will be some.

Im sorry you have to face this.

minervasmom Thu 28-Mar-13 17:27:40

@Moknicker yes, I've got to work on the Pride, you're right, thank you! Am off to go do a search on Mumsnet on school gate syndrome.

motherinferior Thu 28-Mar-13 17:34:21

I do think, from my own experience, that it's important to face down the people who treat your child like a freak (I've had them - oh yes how I've had them). Don't let your children feel confused or weirdly guilty about the way they look. Tell the people who prod and point and then say "but I was only interested" to stick it where the sun doesn't shine. Be open and honest about colour in the family.

I do wish my parents, both of them, had done that.

spottyparrot Thu 28-Mar-13 17:36:22

I think there are a small number of racist people around but it would not account for constant blanking/snubbing.

The only thing I can suggest from your op is that maybe some of the shy people are intimidated by you being an extrovert.

My dd is in reception and I have done a play date with her very best friend only. A couple of other people have mentioned play dates but I find play dates quite hard work and am busy etc so would prefer to restrict it to her best friend. I fond socialising quite an effort as well. This may also be part of your problem - you may have had the misfortune to ask someone like me! I do the same with my ds - best friend only for play dates.

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