When my oldest child was a year old, a young black cashier asked me a question I was not prepared for.
He asked me if she was my child. Even after saying yes, he continued to ask me if I was sure. He then said that her father must be very light skinned.
As a new mother, I was frustrated and wasn’t quite sure how to respond.
Days after the encounter, I couldn’t stop thinking about his question. My daughter was hugging me and calling me mommy, so I couldn’t understand why in his mind it was okay to continue questioning me.
My daughter was light skinned and her complexion often garnered looks and questions from strangers.
I know that our complexions didn’t match, but it was obvious from our loving interactions that we were family.
Now that I’m a seasoned mom of three, the comments and questions about my kids don’t bother me as much.
I don’t feel the need to explain my family dynamics to strangers–especially since the comments usually come in the check out line when I’m trying to keep my cool with my kids and not get over charged for my purchases.
One of the questions I get asked the most is how to deal when people ask, “Are those your kids?”
Here are a few assertive ways to answer:
Why Do You Ask?
Asking a question put the ball back in their court. People often ask because your kids may have a different complexion or may not look like you.
When you ask them the question, it forces them to be faced with the inappropriateness of their question.
Aren’t They Beautiful? People Tell Me That a Lot.
This is a response I am going to start using. When people ask me about my kids, they usually follow up with a compliment about their skin tone or hair.
I guess they feel it’s okay to ask the question if they are offering a compliment. Instead of going down a rabbit hole with a conversation about what ethnicity my husband is and so forth, I’m going to end the conversation with this statement.
In some instances, the questions about your children are downright rude and intrusive.
They may catch you off guard and make you think of a rude and off color response. This can be tricky, especially when you are with your children and you want to set a good example for them.
Remember, not every comment or question deserves a response.
If you feel totally uncomfortable, you can always walk away.
I Don’t Want to Answer That.
Short and sweet.
This changes the question mark to a period. Some people don’t recognize that they are out of line, or are crossing into territory that makes you feel uncomfortable.
In the age of reality television and social media sharing, people often think that everyone’s lives are open for dissection and discussion.
You are the gatekeeper for your family and you can determine what is open for discussion and what is not.
Having an idea of how to respond to questions about your multiracial family before you are approached helps to minimize feelings of anger and bitterness, as well as regret for what you didn’t say.