Author Topic: Are they yours? Don't understand the offense  (Read 8693 times)

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heathert

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Are they yours? Don't understand the offense
« on: May 03, 2013, 11:12:22 PM »
I read this today and I'm not sure why this question is offensive but I may be clueless. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/denise-henry/mothers-of-biracial-kids_b_3105615.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl11%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D307924

I don't usually ask people this question, I admit it. It's mainly because I never want to assume a relationship when there isn't one, and vice-versa.  Anyway, is it offensive to ask someone if the children in their charge are their children?  I wanted to get some perspective.

Sharnita

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Re: Are they yours? Don't understand the offense
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2013, 11:29:11 PM »
It sounds like some of it is specific to the area.

MommyPenguin

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Re: Are they yours? Don't understand the offense
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2013, 11:35:52 PM »
I think if the children were obviously biracial, I would probably have assumed (mentally) that they were her kids.  But aren't in general we told not to assume relationships?  Sometimes it's hard to be sure if somebody is the mother or grandmother, father or grandfather.  Sometimes people assume that the older sibling is the parent, or that the parent is the older sibling.  It seems like a very difficult situation to be told not to assume one way or the other, but not to be allowed to ask, etc.  And even if you try not to assume/ask, sometimes it's hard to continue the conversation without letting on what your best guess is, because you can only refer to "your little one" so long before you slip and guess "your daughter" or whatever.

I guess my takeaway would be that it's inappropriate to ask if you're doing so merely because you want to know, but without having reason to.  So if you see somebody pushing kids on the swings and you wonder if she's their mother or their babysitter... it's inappropriate to ask.  If, however, you are pushing your kid on the next swing and you're chatting, I'd *think* it would be okay to ask, if it isn't apparent from what she says.

*inviteseller

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Re: Are they yours? Don't understand the offense
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2013, 12:19:06 AM »
I never assume nor ask a strangers ties to the kids.  If they want me to know, they will tell me, but usually a kid will let you know because they will call the person mom or dad, grandma or grandpa, aunt or uncle. 

shygirl

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Re: Are they yours? Don't understand the offense
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2013, 12:39:31 AM »
I read this today and I'm not sure why this question is offensive but I may be clueless. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/denise-henry/mothers-of-biracial-kids_b_3105615.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl11%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D307924

I don't usually ask people this question, I admit it. It's mainly because I never want to assume a relationship when there isn't one, and vice-versa.  Anyway, is it offensive to ask someone if the children in their charge are their children?  I wanted to get some perspective.

I've asked parents at the playground if a particular child is theirs, but only because the child in question had somehow injured himself and clearly wanted a parent's comfort.

I think the reason you are asking helps to determine if you are being rude.  If you're just asking to satisfy your curiosity, then that's kind of rude.  Why do you need to know?

I'm the mom of a mixed kid, but my son inherited my skin color instead of my husband's.  I've never been asked, so far, but my kid is only 2, so we've still got time!  I think if it's just me and my son, it's not that clear that he might be mixed.  If my husband and son are hanging out, it becomes more clear.  I don't know if anyone has ever asked my husband.  I actually think the kid looks more like a chipmunk right now.  I hope he grows into his teeth...

Promise

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Re: Are they yours? Don't understand the offense
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2013, 12:48:51 AM »
My foster kids were often a different race than I. I always got strange looks and the "question".

Millionaire Maria

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Re: Are they yours? Don't understand the offense
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2013, 01:02:12 AM »
I think the woman who wrote the article is looking for offense. She assumes quite a lot about people's motivation for asking. I also hated how she talked about how people should be able to tell that they are her children, just by the look of love on her face. That's ridiculous.
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Promise

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Re: Are they yours? Don't understand the offense
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2013, 01:15:04 AM »
The question, "Are they yours," most often I think is just a conversation starter. I honestly don't think people were trying to be rude. We all are curious about things and people who don't fit our "mold" of how we mentally organize our world. If you live in an urban community where most people are black (like mine) seeing someone Asian or White is unusual and they get started at. I brought a Chinese couple to my rural, white, community where I grew up and warned them ahead of time not to be surprised to get lots of stares. Low and behold they were staring at the Amish who seemed normal to me because I grew up with them. We start at short people, tall people, people without legs, fat people, famous people, people with tattoos all over their faces,  tall skinny modes, beautiful women with old men and gorgeous young men with a couger. We all do it. We try to hide it but we are all fascinated by anomalies in our mind. If we don't do it, then our mind doesn't create the synapses forming connections that this is normal. The more our brain sees it, the stronger the connection and the less odd it becomes cognitively. I never minded the "question" and I never experienced overt racism with my children. Perhaps they did, but as a whole, people let us be.

violinp

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Re: Are they yours? Don't understand the offense
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2013, 01:20:22 AM »
I think the woman who wrote the article is looking for offense. She assumes quite a lot about people's motivation for asking. I also hated how she talked about how people should be able to tell that they are her children, just by the look of love on her face. That's ridiculous.

Of course it is. I mean, I act happy and loving around my cousin, but that doesn't mean she's my child, especially considering she was born before that was even physically possible for me.
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delabela

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Re: Are they yours? Don't understand the offense
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2013, 01:28:17 AM »
I can see where the author is coming from.  There is a difficult and complex social history that comes into play. 

I don't think it's necessarily rude to ask "are they yours," but it does strike me as strange.  It's not a question I have ever gotten.  "Which one is yours," yes - that makes sense to me, if you are parents hanging out watching kids play on the playground. 

CakeEater

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Re: Are they yours? Don't understand the offense
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2013, 02:36:05 AM »
I can see where the author is coming from.  There is a difficult and complex social history that comes into play. 

I don't think it's necessarily rude to ask "are they yours," but it does strike me as strange.  It's not a question I have ever gotten.  "Which one is yours," yes - that makes sense to me, if you are parents hanging out watching kids play on the playground.

And 'Which one is yours' is a perfectly fine question, because it is just asking which child you're in charge of, not the specific nature of the relationship.


JoieGirl7

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Re: Are they yours? Don't understand the offense
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2013, 02:53:29 AM »
Sounds to me like some people are unsure of whether she is the nanny or the mom.  They are not sure.  And the reason they may want to know is so that they can know how to relate to her socially.

If the person asking is a nanny, then she wants to know if she is a fellow nanny which would elicit a kind of different social connection than if she was another mother.  The same thing if it is a mother asking.

I would feel weird assuming someone was either one.  If I were a fellow mother, I don't think I would get to know someone's nanny socially in the same way that I would want to get to know someone who lives in my neighborhood and is raising kids there like me.

Diversity is great, but we also have different roles in society.  Someone's nanny may be in a completely different situation than me.  Or, if I am a nanny, maybe I want to meet someone who is facing some of the same challenges that I am.

It's not that one is better or worse than the other.  It's just you can't assume.

I think the LW is assuming a lot of motivations on the part of the askers.  And if nannies who look like her are so prevalent in her neighborhood I would wonder why she is eliciting so many stares.  They probably suspect that she isn't a nanny because she may be dressed differently than most nannies and so are asking to be sure.

But, she sure seems like she wants to take offense.  On one hand, she is ticked that people are looking and on the other she is ticked that they aren't looking quite closely enough.

GLaDOS

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Re: Are they yours? Don't understand the offense
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2013, 03:03:54 AM »
'Are they yours'  out of the blue doesn't seem like a very graceful question, because depending on the answer it can get really awkward, really fast. The answer would probably be 'yes', but what if it's no? What if it's no for a private reason and there's a whole can of worms there? Why do you care if it's my kid or not? It's almost like you're asking the person to defend why they have that kid with them, and it seems like it presumes a greater level of intimacy than what's actually there.

Of course, most people mean well, and it's usually an innocent sort of ice-breaker.  Can it be offensive? Sure. Should you take high offense and give them what for for assuming things? Of course not. I think the author had a valid point up until "They should just intuit that it's my kid and if they can't, it's because they can't see past my race and shame on them". It's a tiresome question, but if you get it a lot, a stock answer would be fine.
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Hmmmmm

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Re: Are they yours? Don't understand the offense
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2013, 06:11:41 AM »
I think the woman who wrote the article is looking for offense. She assumes quite a lot about people's motivation for asking. I also hated how she talked about how people should be able to tell that they are her children, just by the look of love on her face. That's ridiculous.
This.

In looking at the photo, her kids looked a lot like her, so I don't think the question from most is racially motivated. And since she implies her neighborhood has a high number of nannies I can understand why others don't assume.

heathert

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Re: Are they yours? Don't understand the offense
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2013, 07:49:44 AM »
I think the woman who wrote the article is looking for offense. She assumes quite a lot about people's motivation for asking. I also hated how she talked about how people should be able to tell that they are her children, just by the look of love on her face. That's ridiculous.

I think that's what bothered me the most about the article. I mean, I could see a nanny or other relation than mother being just as loving myself.  That attitude was what kind of set it off for me.  Thanks!