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How do you talk to your child about race?

Yesterday I was at the supermarket with my 4 year old girl. As we where waiting at the cashier line I was showing my girl a newborn baby; so she could get an idea of how big her baby brother or sister will be. I was telling my daughter "look that 's how d baby is going to be when he comes." it so happened that d baby was African American so my daughter reply "but not brown mami right" I was completely embarrass and before I could apologize the baby's mom walked out of the supermarket and she looked upset. We are hispanic, but my daughters features are those of Caucasian ethnicity. I felt terrible about the whole incident and I'm trying to find out the best way to explain to her that what she said was not nice. HELP


Asked by GodPRKitty at 9:56 PM on Jul. 9, 2008 in Preschoolers (3-4)

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Answers (12)
  • I just tell my kids that "friends can be any color." My kids go to school with a very diverse population. I would not feel bad. Your child was seeing a color, but not in a racist manner. My son is 4 and he will say so and so is brown. I just say, "and he is your friend." He will typically start to talk about all their shenanigans and smile, laugh, and go on and on. I would not worry, but just keep it simple and sweet. I always joke with my kids and say everyone has 2 eyes, 2 ears, 1 nose and so could use that, but add a slight color twist if it comes into your conversation. Again, little kids are honest. I'd be far less embarassed by her comments. A few months back my son announced to a group that a strange had a big butt. I was MORTIFIED!!! I apologized told her he was 3, that I'd punish him and she said, "No, it is true I do." With a smile she walked off. What do we do? Kids are honest.

    Answer by Teachermom01 at 10:23 PM on Jul. 9, 2008

  • Keep it simple when talking to children about any sensitive subject. Tell her it is not nice to point out skin color. Tell her every person is part of the human race and some of us have different skin colors and different eye colors but we are all human. To answer her question if her baby brother or sister will be brown, tell her the baby might be, that you wont know till the baby comes. Keep it simple with a 4 y.o old

    Answer by vbruno at 10:00 PM on Jul. 9, 2008

  • Kids are so honest. That woman shouldn't have been upset. Your daughter didn't mean anything by it. I agree with the previous poster. Just be honest and keep it simple. With all the hate in the world we have to teach our kids that everyone is different.

    Answer by mwebb at 10:14 PM on Jul. 9, 2008

  • We dont talk about it in our house...we just dont make it an issue....But in your case I agree keep it simple...."There are tons of different colors in the world, just like hair and eyes" Thats it thats all I would say...It would be kinda hard at such a young age to explain this topic...good luck.

    Answer by BUSYMAMA5 at 10:16 PM on Jul. 9, 2008

  • I think the best explanation would do more showing then telling. If she's around people of different cultures and varying looks and shades, then it will no longer be odd or foreign. I knew a caucasian man that told me the first time he saw a black person was when he was four. The woman got on the bus and he said loudly to his mom, "Look at that person with the black head." His mother was mortified but she deserved it b/c she failed to expose him. Does she have toys and dolls that look different then her? This is an important conversation because a kid her age is shaping her ideals (like her ideals of beauty) Perhaps you can try this scenario again in the comfort of your own home. Show her a picture of an African-Amer baby in a magazine and discuss her reaction to determine if it was a simple question or if it was her expressing her disapproval if the baby was brown .keep me posted.

    Answer by bambola at 10:17 PM on Jul. 9, 2008

  • Just be sure to let her know that while we are all different looking on the outside, we are still all the same. Some people are short, some are tall, some are brown, some are white, etc. It's simple enough for her to understand. I'm sure she meant no harm by it. That woman should have been more understanding :(

    Answer by ReneeK3 at 10:18 PM on Jul. 9, 2008

  • I meant stranger...

    Answer by Teachermom01 at 10:24 PM on Jul. 9, 2008

  • Really I don't know why you felt the need to apologize or why the other mother would have been upset. Maybe she wasn't and that was your perception of things. We should all be proud of who we are. You as a Hispanic and the other mother of her African American baby. Race is a touchy subject because of the history of race relations and slavery in this country. But that would change if people would respect, appreciate and love all the differences that are out there. I don't think what your daughter said is mean. I would let it go. Say babies come in lots of different colors, our baby will look like us, but all babies are beautiful.

    Answer by momof2boys423 at 10:32 PM on Jul. 9, 2008

  • Well.. I don't think what she asked was "not nice"... just a normal curious child. I think that any mother would completely understand that question..

    Answer by pupmom at 1:31 AM on Jul. 10, 2008

  • Her mother shouldn't have been upset. Kids are just curious. I think I would just tell her, "Babies come in all shapes and sizes"

    Answer by TXdanielly at 1:49 PM on Jul. 10, 2008