Lately, I have been wondering if you can really be politically correct with children because children aren’t necessarily politically correct. Yesterday I was at a stop light waiting for it to be safe to walk. In front of me I saw an African-American woman saying to her kid, “How many times do I have to tell you that you have to wait for the white man???” Then the kid screamed back and said, “I hate the white man why does the white man get to tell me what to do?”

When I heard this I was shocked and didn’t know what to think. I didn’t want to pry but the conversation struck me as weird to say the least. Then the light changed and I was like DUH!!!!! They were talking about the walk light.

This isn’t the first time I have experienced awkwardness surrounding race with children. My neighbor’s son thinks the African-American leasing agent that works in our building is DJ Lance from Yo Gabba Gabba. In Princess A’s playgroup a girl got excited because she thought the older Asian girl in the group was Mulan. I myself said some embarrassing things as a child. I grew up in a community where there were no Jewish people. When I learned about the Holocaust I was mortified and since I had never met a Jewish person thought that Hitler had killed off the entire Jewish race. When I went to boarding school and made my first Jewish friend I said, “Wow, I thought you all died. It’s so nice to meet you.” Looking back I am so embarrassed I said that but it came from an innocent as opposed to an antisemitic place.

I think it’s natural for kids to see someone of a different race and associate them with a character they love but whenever this happens I see the parent tense up. Usually the person being compared to the character doesn’t really mind and sometimes thinks it’s funny.

Since I see this happen so often I am pretty sure Princess A will say something along these lines. Since I grew up in community where for the most part everyone was the same race and religion I didn’t deal with this much as a child so honestly I have no idea how I will talk to Princess A about race when she is older.

How do you talk to your children about race? What do you do when your child says something innocent that could be misconstrued as racist?

Stay Glamorous,

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16 Responses to “PC PARENTING?”

  1. Lisanne April 24, 2012 at 1:18 PM #

    In my opinion, you can’t stop people to think differently. That’s what make this world so rich. But some people think “good”, some “bad”, some don’t want to give their opinion, some say stupid thing…. As for the kids, people have to understand that according to their age, kids are not “advanced” as they could be themselves. When youre little, you don’t think like a adult. Everything revolve around you. So if sometimes kids let slip something like that, think about it…. they’re little… they don’t understand the world as we do. And for talking the races, religion or whatever to Princess A, I would suggest that you told her that we are all different but at the same time, the same. We are all womans/mens, pursuing their life goal. But some have blonde hair, others dark skin, some can’t eat pork, etc. Maybe you can point to her that even inside the “white community”, people/kids that is very like her, you can spot some differences and some similitudes.

    • Shannon April 24, 2012 at 2:10 PM #

      I like that idea Lisanne!

  2. Melissa April 24, 2012 at 2:22 PM #

    I learned this lesson the hard way. I have always exposed my child to many different cultures and races. One day we were in the dark hallway of my second-story apartment and one of my African-American neighbors came out of his apartment and we chatted as we walked towards the stairs, but my son was hiding behind me. I asked him what was wrong and he said “why is he so DARK?” really loud and started crying. Mortified, I apologized to my neighbor and tried to comfort my son. It’s just that the unfamiliar. It could have been someone with a lot of tattoos or someone with multiple facial piercings and he probably would have reacted the same way. Unfortunately, there’s going to be at least one time where your child says something that makes you wish the floor would open up and you could crawl under it. The best is just to teach her basic manners and how to be polite in any situation. There’s no awkward situation that can’t be made easier by plain old fashioned manners!

  3. Jess April 24, 2012 at 2:57 PM #

    We live in a predominately white neighborhood. Thankfully when out shopping, like at the mall of america, Warren doesn’t seem to notice the differences in people. To him they’re just people, he is super friendly and outgoing. I think because we don’t treat anyone else differently he won’t either. I’m sure he will say something that will make me cringe at some point. I’m pretty lucky though, he has amazing manners, I know mine have improved because I wanted him to be well behaved and polite. But I’m shocked at how much he says please and thank you, and how easily he will go apologize when he does something wrong. I know he doesn’t quite understand why he has to apologize yet but he does it, and we always explain why he needed to. I guess the best you can do is teach them right and like Melissa said, good old fashioned manners. I think it goes a long way, especially these days where the use of them seems to have fallen off.

    • Shannon April 24, 2012 at 5:12 PM #

      Agreed. And jess we got your package for baby Monroe from you and Warren today.

      • Jess April 24, 2012 at 6:44 PM #


  4. Megan April 24, 2012 at 6:20 PM #

    It’s also not just a matter of race. It can be a matter of choice with hair color, piercings, tattoos, etc to things that can’t always be a matter of choice.

    I am SHORT. VERY short compared to others. I can excuse kids of certain ages when they say things. There gets to be a point when manners haven’t been reinforced so it is no longer ‘acceptable’ for me but I still don’t lose it with the kid or the parents. I just move along and act as if I didn’t hear it or don’t see the stares.

    I have always told people they can ask me anything but I do keep the right to decline to answer. The only times I have refused to answer a question were actually from a couple adults. Kids ask because they are curious and don’t know, some adults ask for the purpose of hurting the other person or not thinking beyond their nose.

    As Melissa put it, “The best is just to teach her basic manners and how to be polite in any situation. There’s no awkward situation that can’t be made easier by plain old fashioned manners!”

    My niece has just recently started to notice the differences more…especially when it comes to me and her mamaw. BUT, her parents or we have given her an excellent explanation along the way. There is a funny story to go with that.

    If the situation arises when Amelia is older and questions arise, just go with your best judgement. However, don’t be afraid to ask the other person if it’s okay for her to ask them questions.

    I apologize for getting a bit wordy…

    • Shannon April 25, 2012 at 12:04 AM #

      No, it was very helpful!

  5. Ann-K April 25, 2012 at 8:38 AM #

    I’m friendly to everyone everytime, no matter if Lillian’s there or not. It’s the only thing that helps

    We don’t have the “white man” problem in Germany, because our stoplights are red or green. But the Federal Republic of Germany seems a bit uber-correct. Just an example: We usually have car license plates containig the region where we live (in my case NF for “Nordfriesland”,) two letters and a combination of numbers: NF-XY 1234.

    Many people take the two letters and numbers which come after the region code for name-initials and birthdays. Imagine one’s name is Kristin Zeiss, Anne Heim, Simon Schmidt, Silvia Ahrens? KZ, AH, SS and SA are forbidden. Everyone in Germany knows what these shortenings stood for. And they think people shouldn’t get these for their license plates…

    Sure, our ancestors did everything wrong – most of them for blindly following A.H.. But should we forbid those letter-combinations?! Then we should also forbid the parents in Germany naming their children Eva, Josef, Magda or Heinrich.

    It doesn’t help having such restrictions… it helps to talk about history, about the planet, different regions and religions.

    And people should be aware of the fact that little children are no racists, they’re just honest and tell what they see and think. They’re made racists if their parents and environment act as if people of a different nativity or religion are wrong. And they’d start to think that other people are different, if something they said will be taken for a reason to throw them out…

    I’m sorry for so many words but its difficult to get to the point in a foreign language 🙂

    • Shannon April 25, 2012 at 9:20 AM #

      My initials are SS so I wouldn’t be able to have mine on a license plate :(. Don’t apologize for the long comment. I love your opinion.

      • Ann-K April 25, 2012 at 10:20 AM #

        Thank you (: That’s true and hilarious – as if a two-letter combination would display a political attitude…

        • Shannon April 25, 2012 at 12:54 PM #

          My husband and Amelia would be in trouble too. Their initials are both AH. We are Jewish though so do Jewish people get an exception? lol

  6. Ann-K April 25, 2012 at 2:19 PM #

    I’d like to know that, too. But from what I know about German bureaucracy, probably not.

  7. Jen May 9, 2012 at 11:29 AM #

    My daughter (3 1/2yo) just started noticing skincolor. My niece who I babysit a few days a wk is 3/4 Afr Amer and 1/4 Puerto Rican. My daughter said to my niece one day “Raegan are you brown?” Raegan’s reply “yes and you’re white.” My daughter loves strawberry shortcake and at the time watching it on tv. So she said “Raegan you’re brown like orange blossom” Raegan said “and you’re white like strawberry shortcake. Titi Jeni you’re white too.” I said “no I light brown, like ginger snap.” then they looked at ginger snap and agreed. But that has been then extent of skincolor and race, no embarrassing comments so far. A little background I am Puerto Rican, my sisters are 1/2 P.Rican & 1/2 African American. My hubby is Jewish and my sis’ spouses are Afr Amer. Plus our extended family are a variety of skin/hair/eye color so having this diversity will help when she is a little older and has more questions.

    • Shannon May 9, 2012 at 1:12 PM #

      It’s true diversity helps. Our family is diverse in religious views but not skin color so I am lucky we live in NY were she can make friends of all skin colors!

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