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

(84 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.

brass Fri 18-Oct-13 17:16:37

as u r in london i find it hard to believe that it is racism.

that's pretty naive!

SPBisResisting Fri 18-Oct-13 17:13:13

That was a worrying title!
I struggle to believe this stuff happens (but I do believe you). What is it to them?

brass Fri 18-Oct-13 17:09:36

you all need to see Adult Supervision at the Finsbury Park theatre. It's a comedy about 4 mums with 'mixed' families.

Very funny, very current and very appropriate to this debate.

giveitago Mon 01-Jul-13 14:21:50

xenia - do you run and empoyment agency - you are obsessed with bloody work.

Multiculturalism doesn't come from work but rather from PEOPLE.

No and my dm is asian and she is asian whether she works or not- she was not ever treated badly because she was from rich family and also married my english dad who treated her as an equal.

Nothing to do with work - just people.
As I've said to OP - her dkids need her becauses she is their mum. Just as I still my lovely mum.

Xenia Thu 06-Jun-13 11:48:42

Of course they are not better off without you. If the school is multicultural it is strange you are having this problem. Mind you if you work full time you can avoid all this kind of stuff - nothing worse than doing the school run and socialising with othermothers. Avoid it and pursue your career and these problems will disappear. Feminism as ever has the answer.

It is particularly in cultures where women are treated appalling as in much of the Indian subcontinent it is particularly important work pursue good careers and outearn men.

MangoJuiceAddict Thu 06-Jun-13 11:20:57

Of course they won't be better off without you! My DH is Indian (i'm white) and we've taught our DD to be proud of the fact her mummy and daddy look different but love eachother so much we created a stunning littlle olive skinned girl (despite being 11 years old, my daughter looks like Nicole Scherzinger confused ). Do you encorage your children to embrace Bengali culture? Do you eat Bengali food at home? We eat Indian food most nights and DD loves it so much she proudly takes it to school and says the other children eat 'boring' food as they eat their ham sandwiches and she mops up biryani with a chapati! Encourage your children to be proud of their mixed heritage and to be proud of you, we talk to DD about racism and say how silly racist people are! I've been blanked at the school gates too but it is a strange place! When I sign things as Mrs Singh people are often surprised to see I have green eyes and white skin! They just assume I must be Indian to be married to an Indian hmm. My advice is to ignore the racist comments (even it is heartbreaking and difficult to do so!) and encourage your children to be proud of their mixed heritage!

dina75 Mon 20-May-13 12:29:52

Totally understand your viewpoint... I've been asked if I am the nanny. My children are half Welsh/ white and half Bengali (my side). They are gorgeous and very proud of their dual heritage and I am the best person (no, I am the ONLY person) qualified to be their mum. Do not let anyone make you feel inadequate and please don't let their short comings become your problem. Introduce yourself to some of the mums and dads, it could be they are genuinely unsure of your role... Break the ice with something like "I'm so and sos mum, but some people mistake me for the hired help" and laugh loudly. They'll be so relieved that you said it first, they will immediately relax. Best of luck, and feel free to PM me as it sounds like have had very similar experiences.

Prozacbear Sat 13-Apr-13 16:55:00

It's hard to say whether this is a race issue, particularly if the school is fairly multicultural.

As other posters have said, it might be an awkwardness issue. I am mixed black/white and look mixed and not much like my mum. She is blonde, blue eyes, classic English rose and I am about 5 inches taller. She used to get asked to her face if I was adopted, whose child she was looking after, why she had a 'black' child and worse.

Now I have DS whose dad is white. DS looks very much like me facially but skin and hair are completely caucasian, and at nursery I've had odd reactions from other mums who have 'met' DS previously but not me - they clam up out of confusion - these are black, white, Indian, European parents, not just caucasian.

My policy is to learn their kids' names and go, "Oh you're X's mum aren't you - they get on really well. I'm X's mum." Luckily DS is pretty sociable so does half the work for me!

Good luck to you - it's not what we'd have, but it's what we've got and what we have is amazing, mixed kids who will be part of the movement towards a more multicultural society. she said cheesily

Moominsarehippos Sun 31-Mar-13 17:44:05

The more you worry about it, the worse it becomes. I went through a period just after ds started school - my mum died suddenly, dh was made redundant, crippling depression, etc etc etc it was bloody awful. I gave up bothering trying to be friendly and just closed myself off - I'm shy to start with.

One sunny day it just seemed to lift - I had eventually got a new job that I really liked (after working in a shit hole and being made redundant), ds was doing really well in school, dh was less stressed... I was crossing the road feeling quite happy and one of the alpha moms was crossing the other way. I shot a smile and she hesitated and smiled back. Ok so we aren't bosom buddies, but I get a civil 'hi' and a snmile. I may not be 'her kind of people' but I don't want to be.

As long as people aren't horrible, and ds has some playdates with sime nice kids, I fee like I'm winning.

Your kids love you regardless of colour/race/shape/size.

This is common playground crap, and it's very probable it bares no meaning to your colour.
I'm white, and i have experienced the same hostile behaviour at my children's school-it's very clickey, people are in groups and I'm just one of many that cant seem to enter that iyswim.
I don't think it's for any particular reason other than, they pick and choose willy nilly who they want as part of that.

You sound lovely op, don't let this bother you.
The school run only makes up a small part of the day.

BernadetteRostenkowskiWolowitz Sun 31-Mar-13 12:20:22

i agree polly. there are a set who will always blank me cos im broke and single! but as it turns out i want witty kindd friends who are quirky and not desperate to conform to a stepford wife thang

BernadetteRostenkowskiWolowitz Sun 31-Mar-13 12:17:32

as u r in london i find it hard to believe that it is racism. i only get on with ( in a genuinely relaxed way) aboutt en per cent of 'moms'

giveitago Sun 31-Mar-13 12:07:33

Minerva - I'd also say my dm never thought of me of being 'white' anymore than my df (who is spitting image of the thin white duke david bowie) thinks his daughter looks middle eastern. They, to this day, think of me as their child. A person who has x character, x talents, x faults etc.

I also don't think dm's or df's skin colour or ethnicity. I'm not proud or love them because they give me their varying ethnic and religious roots, but rather because they are my parents who did their best for me inspite of their human failings.

Don't think of your kids as a skin colour because they don't have your colouring. Genetics are more than skin colouring. They need and want their mum.

School playground is another place entirely. A bonkers place for many.

giveitago Sun 31-Mar-13 11:56:09

Minverva - of course they won't.

I'm a middle aged person and my mum is asian. Honest to goodness I dont understand 'multiculturalism' these days. We were a multicultural country once.

Of COURSE I love and need my lovely mummy even though she's now in her mid 70's and her health failing. Just as I still my lovely daddy who's in his mid 70;s and his health failing.

I promise you - kids have no bloody idea of their parents' background. They have parents and they are dependent on them. That's the way it is. I'm married to man from yet another background and ds is so uninteresting in his backgrounds other than he sees that we all look so very different from each other in terms of skin colour.

I'd say what's going on in your school playgrouond is the quite common crap that many mums experience in the school playground.

IIf anything my mum was so horribly popular back then becacuse she looked different to the other mums way back in the mid 70's.

Completely hear what motherinferior is saying. Same position - we've met on this before, no?

pollypandemonium Sat 30-Mar-13 19:49:52

You will find friends the moment you stop fighting for the attention of those that want to exclude you, and focus on those that really want to talk to you.

By the end of my primary school Mum days I found a great group of friends, we all felt a bit left out at first but came together and actually had a lot in common in term of attitude. We had some of the best late night vodka sessions and extended drunken picnics, were able to enjoy the summer fair without feeling we had to take a week off to get it all ready. We bought ready made cakes for the cake stall and praised each others common sense and went on big, disorganised camping sessions and day trips. But at first I felt left out because I am 'different' and it was hard and I sympathise.

Moominsarehippos Sat 30-Mar-13 17:04:06

DH has never every ever assumed 'racism' over any snub, oversight or rudeness. My sisters friend assumes that most things are racism.

Keep your hear up, OP. This really sounds like the usual school gate crap. Some. It's just revert to 'gang' mentality and I will never understand cliques. You will meet a few mums over time that you will click with.

MUM2BLESS Sat 30-Mar-13 16:39:11

spottyparrot what you say is interesting

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

It is possible that its not a racist reaction. As I work from home I have been able to do the school run. I know that certain parents can be cliquey. It can be daunting for new parents do the school run.

MUM2BLESS Sat 30-Mar-13 16:24:36

I met a white lady who had black kids. I thought she was perhaps their nanny During our conversation I realised that they had been adopted. She said that the kids were hers.

I know your situation is different, but the fact is the lady said they were HERS.

You sound like a lovely mum, do not let other people stop you from enjoying the experience of being mum. Enjoy every stage with YOUR children.

MTSgroupie Sat 30-Mar-13 16:20:52

There has been endless threads about school gate politics but as soon as the mom that is being blanked is non-white its - what a bunch of racists.

And by the way, I never said that the OP was being ignored because she was extroverted. I have no idea why she is being ignored. I'm not a school gate smoozer. I drop off and I go so I've no insight into group dynamics at the school gate.

MUM2BLESS Sat 30-Mar-13 16:19:58

My answer is no they will not be better off without a brown mum. NO ONE CAN TAKE YOUR PLACE. NO ONE WILL LOVE THEM LIKE YOU WILL ! You are mum and thats all that matters. Do not let other people stop you from being mum.

As your children get older they will notice your feelings. Grow them up to feel proud of both racial backgrounds. They need to be taught to be proud of who they are.

Its a shame that people are so narrow minded in society. All the best. I send you a BIG HUG.

I am a black childminder. Over the years I have childminded kids from different racial backgrounds. I use to get stares from people of all races when I had the white children with me. I CANNOT imagine how you are feeling with this being done to you as MUM to the children.

Keep your head up high and know that the children are YOURS.

pollypandemonium Sat 30-Mar-13 16:02:28

Nevermind Obama and your reasons why black people should think themselves lucky and should have nothing to complain about. This is something that OP has picked up from the people around her. She doesn't understand why in every other walk of life she is accepted for who she is and has not come across any social hurdles.

Suddenly she walks into the school playground environment. People are excluding her and she doesn't understand why. MTS you say it's simply because she's over-reacting and extrovert and is being snubbed for that.

The reason she is being snubbed is the reason that many mothers are snubbed in the playground - because she does not conform to the aspirational norm. It's not a conflict between parents it is the ambition they have for their children. They don't want their precious darling getting too close to your precious darling because you may be some kind of bad influence. To avoid people because they are different is immoral in my book, it's rude, it's arrogant and frankly not civilised behaviour. Social exclusion is a form of self-imposed segregation.

Most people, thankfully, are supporting OP to find ways of dealing with this horrible situation.

MTSgroupie Sat 30-Mar-13 15:22:21

grin at your Obama 'observation'.

Reagan was endlessly lampooned for being a B movie actor, for being old, for being stupid. Clinton was hated by many conservatives for his liberal policies and womanizing. George W Bush is regarded by both sides as being an intellectual light weight who constantly trips over his own tongue.

But from your perspective Obama was treated the way he was/is because he is black? And the reason why his white predecessors were hated was because of ????

And just in case you are so blinded by your 'ism', despite a crap economy and high levels of unemployment, the black guy still beat the white guy with the blonde wife.

RealityQuake Sat 30-Mar-13 14:01:19

Yay - black people can be entertainers and sports people and have their culture replicated and watered down to a cool stereotypical joke for people's amusement (See Harlem Shake, a 30 year old dance becomes cool in White culture once it's stripped of its Black origins and watered into unrecognisable joke form). That makes up for lack of representation in toy stores, children's books, most TV programmes and movies, and history and everything else a person really builds their identity on. Only 1 of your examples is not the category already built as black stereotypes and have you seen how Obama has treated?

See the Clark Doll Test, 1940s test which was redone in 2009, both showed White and Black children of primary school age are already socialised in preferring Whiteness, in thinking that White is prettier, smarter, nicer, has more friends and, just as importantly, both thinking Black as less than, the mean one, the dumb one, the one with no friends, the one they wouldn't play with. At the end of the test, they ask the kids which one looks like them and less than half Black children were willing to pick to the Black doll (and many who did do so became very upset when choosing it)

It's not about being "cool", it's about having a past, present, and future recognised as important and worthy of recognition. When we begin talking about the empires of Africa, Asia, and the Americas pre-Europe and people from those groups making real impacts in the future. Not those who are popular with a subset for stereotypes that have festered for centuries (see Minstral shows and racist science proving that Black people are physically better at the expense of emotions). Show me when your examples are treated as real people, with real feelings, and real non-stereotypical problems See an actress describe how hard it can be to get the media writers to treat Black actors as something other than a stereotype or prop for White people rather than just snapshot heroes.

And you completely missed all the other races, and seeing as the OP is Bengali and I'm Metis, a list of Black people to show how well represented we are completely misses the mark and makes my point for me (hint, we aren't interchangeable - society just treats us like we are).

I would recommend, for any interested, Uprooting Racism by Paul Kivel, he's an excellent writer on racial issues writing specifically for White and White-passing groups wanting to improve the problems.

Moominsarehippos Sat 30-Mar-13 12:25:41

I frequently am snubbed because I am not of the 'majority' country of origin. In the UK! And I am British. The vast majority are from another EU country (nor renouned for its friendliness) and I am the teensy minority of Brits. It wasn't like this when we started at the school. Even some of the mums have moved their kids because of there being 'too many XX kids here' (the mums being from the same country).

Not race, probably more cultural and a bit snobby ('so which major corporation does your husnabd own/run?'). Plus I work which is more than most of these idlewives do! Also, I am quite grumpy-looking and get pissed off at their rudeness (maybe blocking pavements with prams and bikes and standing gossiping en masse in the corridors is ok where they are from). They probably just think I'm a bit mad. I don't care really.

MTSgroupie Sat 30-Mar-13 11:22:20

... so why elevate it to a race thing?

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