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TeyandTy's Mom

When others make a difference in your children

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I ran into a situation the other day. My oldest son is five and the younger is three. An adult that we are around quite often tends to make a huge fuss over Teyler but, often does not acknowledge Tyson. I am not sure if it is intentional but, it does make me feel sad for Tyson. He may be oblivious to the situation. But, I feel like I am his protector... and I don't want him to feel bad. Both of my boys are great and I want everyone to see that. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I could talk to this person? The difference is very noticable.

Thanks

Sabrina

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I don't have two kids, so I'm not sure I can be that big a help. But here are my thoughts - does the adult just relate better to a 5-year-old than to a 3-year-old? Some people are baby people and some are into older kids. My mom is a baby person and so she was kinda rude to my sister's kids (ages 2 and 6) this holiday season because she was so focused on the newest grandkid, my daughter Jenna. I eventually had to stop letting her hold Jenna so much so she would have to redirect her attention to the other children (whose home we were in, by the way!).

I also remember visiting both sets of grandparents when I was young and we related much more to the ones from the city than the ones from the country, simply because we had lived a city life.

You might try spending more time with this person and just Tyson so he or she gets to know him a little better and can learn to relate to and appreciate him. If that doesn't work, you should pull the person aside and let them know how they may be making Tyson feel by not giving him any attention and lathering it on Tey.

Linda

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I am a child of an overloved- underloved family. My maternal grandparents were so involved in my oldersister- who was very sick the majority of her life with diabetes, open heart surgery and such- that my mom had to lay down the law. She required that my grandparents spend equal amounts of time and money on each of us. We visited separately in the summer and when we could other times, so that we could each bond and have our own special little things without feeling left out around the other. This helped to make us have a respect for the time we got but also for the little thing that our sister shared. We all got a special place in their hearts and in turn they got one in ours. My mom never did much to make me personally feel like I existed but when this happened I felt like she understood that I was getting a raw deal and knew it wasnt right. My Papa and I still ahve a bond that is unbelievable, and he passed many years ago. My other grandparents liked this idea so much that they asked if we could visit separatly with them. So for 4 weeks every summer we spent away from mom and got to be the center of attetion- and in the middle my grandparents would simply meet and switch grandkids. It was like musical kids almost. That also allowed us time with my dad's parents and they are the bee's knees when it comes to making everyone feel equally loved inan individual way.

Maybe that type of arrangement would work for you. Good luck with those boys! They are handsome.

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Madelyn Dunham, the beloved grandmother for whom Barack Obama is currently suspending his campaign to visit due to illness, is in the news, and I thought Barack's reflection on her was an important reminder for all of us the lasting impact that grandparents can have, and why it's so important that we encourage them to grow in their thinking, whether about adoption or race:

"(She is...) a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion, has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe''.

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When we know better we do better.

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Madelyn Dunham, the beloved grandmother for whom Barack Obama is currently suspending his campaign to visit due to illness, is in the news, and I thought Barack's reflection on her was an important reminder for all of us the lasting impact that grandparents can have, and why it's so important that we encourage them to grow in their thinking, whether about adoption or race:

"(She is...) a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion, has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe''."

My sweet Nana is my only living grandparent. She's now suffering from dementia, and has just gone to live in assisted living, but I can remember - especially from my teen years - hearing her refer to someone using a racial slur. She didn't mean it any differently than I might in saying "You know, he's the older Asian man who lives down the street" or a descriptor like that. From the deep south, times were different and like most adults - she was fairly set in her ways. When the "n word" would get thrown out for the first time (usually at the beginning of a visit), I'd remind her that I took offense and she would stop. There was this genuine look on her face like she honestly hadn't meant anything by it. She meant it as a descriptor ... meant to distinguish who she was talking about ... with no other connotations. Like sayings we throw around that we don't understand the roots of ("putting a child up for adoption," for instance), there wasn't a deeper meaning behind her words.

I don't know what she'd do/say now that she has dementia, but she did eventually stop saying it around me growing up. I did factor in what my children would hear from elderly family members (or, quite honestly, people my parents' age) growing up if we adopted a child of any color/heritage other than Anglo. I have faith in my extended family that they'd at least bite their tongues, but it's sad to think that's even necessary. And their thoughts certainly wouldn't keep us from adoptiong a child of another heritage.

I wonder how this will change over the generations? Will future adopting parents even think about the fact that their elderly family members will need an education on "uttering racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe?" I mean... is that hurdle really that much bigger than the education we already have to give all of our family members on adoption and proper language surrounding it?

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