Two times in the last monthone of my children has been racialized. During an exchange amongst a group of friends where they were trading (not so) humerous barbs, the other child made a racial comment about my son’s skin color or hair. These comments were made by children having received from another some comment designed to make fun of their glasses, weight, height, and/or athletic ability.
What I find interesting is how unreactive my kids have been and how extremely reactive their friends were. None had any problems calling someone fat or stupid or short or slow or blind or whatever. But as soon as the race card was played, that changed everything. Alarms sounded, parents notified, etc. But my kids probably wouldn’t have told me that these events happened (even though they have no problems tattling on each other).
I know that racializations (generalizations, stereotypes, etc.) are extremely painful to the receiver. And whenever we hear them, we ought to confront them without delay. But lest our righteous indignation overwhelm us, let us not forget that other forms of objectification are equally painful. This is the message I am delivering to my kids: We do not tolerate making fun of other people, period. I think my kids get it but I’m not sure their larger community gets it. And the biggest problem we have is from other white kids looking to get others in trouble.
But here’s my dilemma. I notice that in much of the literature written by transracial adoptees concludes that their parents never talked about race, never understood the deep pain they felt from racializations and racism, and have no interest in living in their old neighborhoods. Now, I could conclude that those writers, now in their late 20s and 30s, grew up in an era where parents tried to be “color-blind.” But I do wonder if the message my kids hear from me as I confront them on their own use of put-downs is that I don’t really think racializations are that serious a problem.
I listened to parts of Michelle Obama’s speech on Monday night. She told the story of the birth of their first child in 1998 (same year and location (Chicago) we adopted our first son at the tender age of 4 days). She told of how they drove home from the hospital with Michelle in the back and Barack driving ever so slowly in order to make sure not to disturb their new daughter.
I did the same thing. We picked up Sam in Oak Park, IL and drove him back to Wheaton (about a 30 minute drive). Kim sat in the back of our 2 door Honda Civic Hatchback and held his head so it wouldn’t flop and I drove trying to avoid every bump in the road. It didn’t stop there. I then didn’t sleep the next two nights as I stayed with him making sure he was alright. A little crazy but as a first time parent, he seemed so fragile to me.
Anybody else out there willing to admit their anxieties over their firstborn?
Its good to be back in the saddle this 2nd day of 2008. I’m looking forward to blogging through Mark McMinn’s Integrative Psychotherapy as well as fleshing out some thoughts I had regarding anxiety versus healthy concern. I’m also going to write a bit about how the news media shapes our way of looking at the world. And since I was asked, I’m going to write a bit about male circumcision. Is it abuse? There are some who suggest it is. This last one may not be a big issue, but since it was new to me, I did some thinking on the matter. Oh yeah, I also have to prepare for my class, Psychopathology. So, look for weekly installments on various pathologies.
I don’t know about you, but I did very little this past holiday week. A walk here, a kid’s movie there, conversation with my parents. And yet, I’m still tired. Go figure. I played multiple games of foosball. It was a big hit. Now, here was my dilemma. I am a good player. I played my kids separately, together, and with an adult. I beat them every time. My youngest is a tough competitor and he wanted to play me but got very upset when I continually beat him. So, I considered whether I should go easy on him and let him win. So, last night, after a week of telling him I never lose, I let him win. He must of screamed, “I won, I won, I beat Daddy!” for ten minutes. He told the whole world. (Freud was right about some things.) When my eldest asked if it were true, I said yes. So, I’m teaching him how to win and lose gracefully. I have a long way to go.
Finally, I want to bring to your attention a ministry that helps set up adoption funds in churches. Check out this link to learn more about the ABBA fund. See what they can do for your church.
Sunday’s sermon was on Matthew’s account of the healing of the paralyzed man. The friends go to the trouble to get the man in front of Jesus (the other Gospels point out that they opened the roof to get him in because the crowds were too great). And what does Jesus do? He forgives the man’s sins. I could imagine the man thinking or even saying, “Uh, thanks Jesus, but that wasn’t what I was looking for. I’d rather walk if that is okay with you.”
The reality is we have in mind the way we want to be blessed. Sometimes God’s blessing doesn’t fit our mold. This passage is a good reminder that Jesus’ primary healing is the healing hearts hardened by sin. The physical healing is “so that you may know” who God is.
Ever had a blessing you didn’t ask for, but got? Here are two of mine. I certainly didn’t ask for them when we were going through infertility but man did I ever get the better blessing.
Check out the this website written by several adoptive dads. Its just starting but there is some good information there (e.g., financing adoptions when you have little income): http://www.adoptivedads.org/ Check it out or pass on the info should you know somebody who could benefit.