We are an interracial family. My husband is Indian and I am Caucasian. Our kids are biracial. They look way more like my husband than me and the number of ridiculous comments I get about them is becoming humorous—also frustrating—but I try to assume the best in people so I look for the humor.
Let’s be real. Seeing me with the kids out can be highly confusing. My kids have dark brown hair. Their eyes are dark brown. And depending on the day (I swear their skin color changes constantly), they can look darker than my Indian husband (but typically at least darker than me).
And you’re curious. You have questions. Are they my kids? Why do they have dark hair? Why is their skin dark? What is happening here?
I get it. Sort of. You wouldn’t ask a blonde mom with green eyes who have kids with blonde hair and brown eyes why their kids have different colored eyes than you, would you? Likely not.
But our differences are more apparent so you just can’t help yourself.
“Where do their dark features come from?” you ask.
“Do you tan your baby?” another one asks.
“Are they actually yours?” yet another one asks. “Are you sure they aren’t the brunette girl’s babies?”
These are all questions I get asked. Often. Now I get asked if they’re twins also (what the heck?) so I feel like I need to just wear a sign when I go out:
- No, they aren’t twins.
- Their dad is Indian.
- Yes, they’re mine.
When we go out and see other interracial families I always wonder what kind of questions they get. Is it just because I’m extroverted and talk to strangers that they feel like they can ask me anything? Or do all interracial families get this?
So if you’re someone who has questions about biracial kids and their parents, here are a few ways to appropriately approach the topic.
1. Don’t assume anything.
The family may or not be bilingual. The kids may or may not have parents of different races. They may or may not be adopted. Don’t assume that you know what is happening in a situation as it doesn’t do anyone any good.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked where in India my son Rishi was born. He was born in California, not India. But people assume that because he’s Indian, it means he was born in India
2. Start with a compliment.
Never start a conversation asking about the child’s features. Is it any of your business why a little boy looks darker than the mom? Does it matter if a little girl has coarse hair while her mom has fine hair? No.
The parents likely get questions about it every time they’re out and about so it can be exhausting answering the same questions over and over again. Think about it this way. If someone was to ask you why you had the color skin you did or why your hair had the texture it did, you wouldn’t be super impressed by that, would you? Likely not. Rather, if someone complimented you on your gorgeous thick mane or how flawless your skin was, you’d be way more likely to engage in conversation with them.
Curious about something? Don’t ask. Compliment first. Maybe they’ll open up, maybe they won’t. But I guarantee you’ll get a lot further if you don’t start out questioning everything rather than complimenting something.
3. Don’t question who the parent is.
Maybe you don’t know if the person with them is the nanny or the parent. Unless you truly need to know, it’s best not to ask. I was two weeks postpartum with my daughter Penelope when I was questioned three times if I was her mom, and it was tough. It can feel incredibly offensive when your identity as your child’s parent is questioned.
4. Remember to be kind.
I genuinely don’t mind answering questions from well-meaning people about our kids. I’ve always loved learning about new cultures (and now sharing two cultures with our kids and doing things like annaprashan ceremonies!) and people who aren’t like me so I understand the curiosity.
So if you see an interracial family in your neighborhood, at your school or at the local library, start with being friendly first before moving on to the personal questions.
At the end of the day, we’re all human. We’re all curious. But be kind, have grace and remember to ask questions that you wouldn’t mind being asked yourself.