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...to want to mix more with people from different backgrounds and cultures?

(60 Posts)
HugoTheHippo Thu 20-Feb-14 11:42:48

We live in a pretty multi-cultural South London suburb which I have been getting to know fairly well as I'm on maternity leave with DD1. I have met quite a few other new mums and DH and I have both made new friends in the area, but through no specific intention of ours we have found that we spend our time almost exclusively with other middle-class white British families.

Lovely as they are, AIBU to find this a bit limiting and wish I could broaden my social circle/experience?

DH and I are starting to talk about nursery for DD and its got me thinking as we want her to grow up broad-minded, but the one we like is mostly full of middle-class white kids! Should I be more pro-active in tackling it, or should I just get over it and accept that's just the way things go?

WorraLiberty Thu 20-Feb-14 11:44:22

That's weird if you live in South London confused

HugoTheHippo Thu 20-Feb-14 11:55:41

That's exactly my point, Worra - I do find it weird, and it's been bothering me a little bit.

MillionPramMiles Thu 20-Feb-14 12:18:51

I don't think it's weird. I live in a very ethnically diverse area of London and mainly met white middle class mums at play groups, childrens centres etc whilst on maternity leave. No idea why.

Dd's nursery does have a mix of children but the number of ethnic minority children is low compared to the ethnic mix of the area. Again, no idea why.

To be honest my friends circle is predominantly white, middle class but probably because most friends have eminated in one way or another from my places of work or university (and both have had low representation from ethic minorities).

Oh and I'm an ethnic minority myself so no subconscious racism. Expect it's more class driven than race driven.

sayxa Thu 20-Feb-14 12:24:06

You find your current social circle limiting because they are too white? That's nice.

manicinsomniac Thu 20-Feb-14 12:37:20

I guess YANBU if it really bothers you.

I don't think I'd worry though. I just tend to mix with people I meet and like, I don't really care what culture or race they're from, whether everybody is the same or there is lots of variety.

Feminine Thu 20-Feb-14 12:37:47

South London? I am from there originally. I can't see how you have ended up with your problem?

dashoflime Thu 20-Feb-14 12:44:23

MillionPramMiles

It seems really weird to me that all the playgroups are dominated by white middle class mums.

I live in Glasgow and go to two playgroups.

One (my regular) dominated by very working class mums and one or two immigrants.
The other (not too regular as on a day when I work but fills the day when child minder is off) very middle class and white.

They are quite nearby each other but in very different areas IYSWIM.

If you seek out church halls/community centres on or near estates you will probably be able to break out of your ghetto.

ReadyToPopAndFresh Thu 20-Feb-14 12:48:30

Middle class people tend to be financially better off. White people tend to be better off financially> If you are hanging out with people who can afford to not work and also get to and pay for play groups...

You might have to try a bit harder if you want a more diverse group of friends or commute to a poorer area.

SamG76 Thu 20-Feb-14 12:52:53

YANBU - We have the same problem. We would love our DCs to meet members of other ethnic minorities, but it's not always easy to manage, and if you don't make the effort (sometimes even if you do), the default seems to be that they end up with kids similar to them. Not for want of trying, though!

KittensoftPuppydog Thu 20-Feb-14 13:01:30

What about the local parks? I met a lot of people at our north London park. All nationalities, ethnic groups.

dreamingbohemian Thu 20-Feb-14 13:02:12

Perhaps get involved in community activities that aren't just playgroups? Do some volunteering (lots can be done with baby in tow), find out if there are community events that you can help organise or street associations. Churches do a lot of stuff and often you don't have to be religious, they are just community organisations. Find out if you can help elderly people in your neighbourhood, getting them groceries or helping them tend their gardens and things like that.

I miss South London, it's so community focused, there's lots of stuff you can do.

dreamingbohemian Thu 20-Feb-14 13:03:24

Also keep an eye on community activist groups, there are always lots of campaigns going on, it's a good way to meet a mix of people.

FreudiansSlipper Thu 20-Feb-14 13:08:16

I do not think it is weird either

as diverse as London is the seperation between class and backgrounds is very obvious once you start going to play groups and even more so school

FoxesRevenge Thu 20-Feb-14 13:14:24

I find this thread quite bizarre. I don't understand the need to go and seek out other ethnicities like a novely factor to add to your group.

Do your white friends bore you?

If you feel a cultural void in your life why not travel?

I work with white british people and all my family are white british. My street however is a mixture of ethnicities however I don't mix with any of my neighbours apart from the immediate ones, just a quick hello when passing. I just don't know if you can force these things into your life if you're everyday working life doesn't already include them. I just don't feel the need to go out and seek others like this. I mean, what exactly do you expect them to bring to your life that your current white circle of friends don't. Other ethnicities work, eat and sleep, they are no different to yourself. I'm not really sure what it is you're trying to find.

MillionPramMiles Thu 20-Feb-14 13:24:17

dashoflime

One of the playgroups I went to each week was at a nearby childrens centre (ie Surestart) in the midst of a council estate (fab place, my dd loved it). Whilst there were certainly some parents from ethic minorities there (and many of the HVs/Staff were from ems), they were still very much the minority. It was certainly dominated by middle class white parents (which didn't reflect the area demographic).

I chatted to one of the staff there about it once, they said the Council were trying to introduce out reach programmes because many childrens centres just weren't being visited by the parents they were trying to support most, despite deliberately being located in more disadvantaged areas.
Again, I see it more of a class issue than a race issue.

I don't worry about the race (or the supposed class) of the children that dd is mixing with, I'm more concerned that they're kind, considerate children who have loving, responsible parents.

I'd like to believe that we live in a much more liberal society than the one I grew up in 30 years ago and that my (mixed race) dd won't be judged by her colour/race.

dreamingbohemian Thu 20-Feb-14 13:26:46

I agree you shouldn't force these things. I just read it as the OP wanting to be more immersed in her community.

Pigeonhouse Thu 20-Feb-14 13:29:25

I met all kinds of people in my north London park. I once counted something like ten languages being spoken in and around the sandpit, and when I miss London (now in a white, middle-class Middle England village which is, frankly, doing my head in), it's things like that sandpit, where you would have African women braiding one another's hair next to Orthodox Jews in wigs and fedoras and a Turkish Kurds freedom rally taking place ten feet away.

My conclusion about baby groups/Sure Start stuff - and I agree that in my ethnically diverse bit of north-east London, they were white-MC-dominated - was that they ended up being primarily MC and white partly because working-class women of all races tended to have their children younger and had more peer and family support, so would have found the idea of going off to hang around with a bunch of strangers weird, when they could see their friends and their babies in their own kitchen. Middle-class women were more socially isolated, having children later, not necessarily at the same time as their peers, more likely to live a long way from family, and to have derived a lot of their identity and social lives from the workplace. Women from ethnic minorities seemed to rely a lot on family for support and company, and in some cases I saw were put off by the culture of public breastfeeding. Immigrant women were put off because of the white MC thing, and also because they worried about their language skills.

dashoflime Thu 20-Feb-14 13:29:49

That's a bit of a rubbish situation MillionPramMiles Do you think the Yummy Mummies have pushed the others out? I think they can be quite intimidating en masse.

I saw a thread on here- where some SureStart centre's were worried that had happened.

Or maybe there is other provision that people prefer: voluntary/church groups etc.

dashoflime Thu 20-Feb-14 13:38:10

"working-class women of all races tended to have their children younger and had more peer and family support, so would have found the idea of going off to hang around with a bunch of strangers weird, when they could see their friends and their babies in their own kitchen. Middle-class women were more socially isolated, having children later, not necessarily at the same time as their peers, more likely to live a long way from family, and to have derived a lot of their identity and social lives from the workplace."

I think this is very true Pigeonhouse

What I've found about Middle Class Mums is that, in some ways, they are much easier to make friends with as they are actively seeking out companionship. In the first few months of maternity leave- they behave in a similar manner to kids starting a new school, purposefully forming friendships perhaps with the expectation of whittling them down to the people they really get on with later.

Working Class Mums seem more likely to have their friendship networks fully formed and therefore can take longer to make a connection.

That's my experience anyway. (I'm from a working class background but am in the process of building up a social network group due to moving into a new area.)

MillionPramMiles Thu 20-Feb-14 14:20:38

dashoflime

I think Pigeonhouse has hit the nail on the head, most of the mums I met had no family nearby and hadn't grown up in the area so didn't have childhood friends nearby either. They were actively looking for companions as you say.

My local childrens centre was very inclusive and welcoming, didn't get the impression anyone was excluding anyone else. Appreciate others may be different though.

RiverTam Thu 20-Feb-14 14:24:27

same with me in south east London - virtually all the play groups, music classes, swimming, even the playground - mainly white middle class kids. Didn't matter if the activity was free or not. Her nursery, as we are, is in a small, white middle class arty liberal lefty (thought I'd get all the adjectives in!) enclave and her nursery reflects that, and reflects the immediate area, even if it doesn't represent the overall area.

The area is what is classed as deprived, and is predominantly (over 80%) of a different culture/ethnicity. Agree with what others say above., especially with regard to age - to be a mum of a young child in your late 30s/early 40s is not unusual in my local playground, but is unusual in the wider area, where there are a lot of very young mums.

I'm not too bothered, when DD starts school she'll start mixing with children from other backgrounds more. The area is changing anyway, house prices are rocketing and apparently we're getting a lot of north Londoners who have been priced out of their area. We couldn't afford our house anymore, not by a long chalk.

dashoflime Thu 20-Feb-14 14:39:31

Still trying to work out how you could all have experienced this (as is very different to my experience) and am grasping at the straw that perhaps there is a difference in demographics between Baby stuff and Toddler Stuff.

I don't know- because I didn't bother with much Baby Stuff.

But-
Since babies are indifferent and Baby stuff is largely for Mums,

whereas Toddler Stuff is for Kids with the added bonus of keeping them occupied while Mums have a cup of tea.

Possibly: Middle Class Mums are disproportionately interested in baby stuff.

Because, honestly- I have no difficulty in meeting working class and minority ethnic toddlers and their Mums. confused

Not saying your experiences are false by the way, just genuinely perplexed.

MillionPramMiles Thu 20-Feb-14 15:08:38

dashoflime

I suppose I was only interested in stuff for the first 12 months as I knew I'd only be going to things while I was on mat leave. Most of my friends who are mums have returned to work so have less opportunity to meet other local mums with their toddlers now. At weekends we tend to go further afield or visit friends/family.

Echo what RiverTam said about changing areas and house prices, the demographic is probably changing as we type anyway.

dashoflime Thu 20-Feb-14 15:22:29

Aha- Maybe it is the difference between Baby and Toddler stuff then.

I work 4 days and the difference between the toddler scene on a weekday and a weekend is massive.

Nothing happens on a weekend except stuff you have to pay commercial rates for e.g: soft play.

Weekdays are like a secret Mum society. Its one of the things I like the most about being part time. When I worked full time, it was the thing I most missed.

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