How do you respond when your four-year-old tells you that she doesn’t like her skin, she wants your skin? Here’s what I did—and what I wish I’d done.
I’m not sure there’s a right answer to that question. I followed my number one rule of trying to maintain a normal voice so the kids won’t feel like any topic in unapproachable. I told her I liked her skin, it was a pretty golden brown color. I told her people can’t trade skin. I told her God made her the way she was because he liked her that way, and God doesn’t make mistakes. (As I said this I realized we had just been talking about getting her droopy eyelid fixed—fortunately she didn’t pick up on this line of thought.)
If I had it to do over again, I might focus more on her feelings of wanting to be like me. I know that children her age are said to be gaining awareness of racial discrimination, but given the diverse area we live in, I think it was more a matter of wanting to be like Mom and Dad. I would remind her that both Mom and Dad have different hair color than either of their parents.
I might say that when I was younger I felt a bit different too. (I think I felt special, not bad, to be the only blonde in the family. But I do remember people always asking if I was adopted (I wasn’t).
In the next few days I’ll point out family similarities and differences—she has her father’s and sister’s sense of humor, her brother’s inventiveness, she likes to read like Mommy, etc. She has a cousin who has different hair color than anyone in her immediate family, and another cousin whose shiny black bob is exactly like Regina’s.
Has anyone had a similar experience? I’d love to hear your comments below, and how you responded.
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