Monday, October 8, 2007

Instilling Values in Our Children

I'll be the first to admit that I love looking at all of the blogs and I especially love the ones with referral photos or children at home. They help me to visualize what my daughter may possibly look like and I simply can't get enough of all of those adorable smiling faces...the kids are so darn cute! But you know that old saying, the thing that you love about something is what turns you off at the same time. I have noticed on the adoption boards when anything goes wrong with a child someone always makes reference to telling the children how beautiful they are externally (and internally I think they feel like they have to say that one). External is the real focus because you always hear how stunningly beautiful the Ethiopian people are...I'm thinking get a better line for your kids people! You should not have your child focus on their external beauty and every person should strive to have strong internal beauty.

Yes, Ethiopians are beautiful but so are a lot of other nationalities and cultures AND that is not the only reason we are adopting the children is it? So, let's make sure that while we are talking to our children and while everyone is busy telling them how cute they are as their parent(s) you are keeping it all in perspective for them. No one likes a conceited person (especially not in school) and let me tell you those school bullies are not very friendly and looks only get you so far in the real world (okay it does help though). Let me give you a little story:

When I was in kindergarten I had heard for my short 5 years how beautiful I was. I could sit on my hair, I was the only child and grandchild hence I was a prima dona (my family still calls me this on occasion, LOL). When I got to school I believed the classroom revolved around me. My teacher asked me to do something I did not want to do. I not only said no but I swung my braids around so they hit her in her face. Of course she told my mother! Well, let me say my Mother was not having that! When I got home she told me I was not that cute and she would show me how cute I was. Now are you sitting? Remember those lovely braids I could sit on? She cut them in the middle! Snip Snip! Yikes! I cried and cried but they were gone! Don't worry, they grew back thicker and longer in no time flat but I didn't do that again. Caribbean lessons were uh...no joke but my mother's were non violent. (lol) The moral of this story is...I learned my looks were not my character and I was NEVER to focus on them.

I understand this journey of adopting another race/country is new for many but we must take the time to look for other responses to provide our children besides the obvious and shallow one of looks. When our children wonder why they should be proud of being Ethiopian we should be able to point to Emperor Haile Selassie, restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson, warrior Queen Worqitu, first woman head of state Empress Zawditu, athlete Meseret Defar or artist Fikru...there are many examples of Ethiopian (and other African and African American) models of success for you to provide your children. So the next time the question arises of why am I special or why am I different comes up I beg you not to tell them because you are stunningly beautiful. Let's transfer values for things that matter most. Selam.

10 comments:

Leslie said...

That is a great point, Tami--I don't like those comments about "beautiful children" either. When people say that to me about the girls, I accept the compliment but then usually say something about how much more importantly they have beautiful hearts, beautiful spirits.

HeidiD in CT said...

So well said. Thank you so much for a perspective that I personally don't get to experience very often. I really enjoy reading your blog and look forward to watching your adventure unfold!

The Breedlove family said...

Glad to see that you are back. You always have such thoughtful writing...and you know I appreciate a good blog :) Looks like you had a good time in DC at the conference. You and Mr.? look cute together...maybe it will be like that movie Serendipity...you will run into each other again somewhere down the road :) It sounds like your spirits are better...keep them up! Congratulations too on finishing your homestudy visits. Amy

chou-chou said...

Great point, and nicely written.

As a kid growing up with a total lack of praise for my appearance, I always craved it - but I also leaned on my sense of humor and personality to befriend folks who (I assumed) would not think I was physically attractive.

I'd like to instill some kind of balance in my daughter - I'd like her to know (on a visceral level) that she is in fact beautiful. But more importantly, I'd like her to be able to put that into perspective and realize that her appearance is insignificant compared to her character. A tall order!

Tracey said...

I agree Tami. Some people do ths weird fetishization thing with their adopted kids looks, especially the girls. I have heard adult adoptees from Asia complain about the China Doll mentality that adoptive parents sometimes have. When people talk about their little Ethiopian princess, I don't think they are thinking in terms of Queen Makeda. It is more like they are getting a black Barbie doll.

Tami said...

I'm still working on the spirits but writing helps! Chou-chou I didn't say tell the girl she is ugly! LOL You had issues with your height? Funny...I always wanted to be taller!

Tasha said...

Prima donna? Swinging braided hair to hit the teachers face??

That's my Tami!

Tami said...

Yea...I couldn't swing those braids for say...another year but then I had a whole lotta swing going but then I just had to do it on the DL so Mommy wouldn't see it. I wanted to keep the braids second the time around! Gotta love me right? :-)

Katy said...

Hello,
I discovered your blog today and have almost finished reading every post. I really like it - thanks for doing it.
I actually told someone recently that "some Ethiopian children are ugly, just like some American children are ugly." I was just sooooo sick of hearing that Ethiopians are so beautiful, from people who have never met anyone from Ethiopia. And the external appearance of my future children seeemed to be the only thing this person was interested in. I really do think that children are beautiful, period, but I just couldn't help myself.

Erin said...

Hi, I am the adoptive mother of two Ethiopian girls, ages 4 and 2 1/2. I don't post pictures of them for their own privacy, but I write about being an adoptive mother. I like what you have to say about looks. People focus on how beautiful our girls are, but character is more important and lasting. I just found your blog today but will certainly read more to hear about your progress! Your children will be with you before you know it.