Avoiding Default to Irate: How Do You Handle Nosy Questions About Your Family?

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How many of you have been asked an inappropriate question about your family? You know the kind; those questions that poke the soft spot in your psyche and make you see some shade of red. My most sensitive questions are about the open adoption we have with my daughter and her family. I try not to default to irate in my responses because I know people are genuinely interested, just uneducated. Harriett at See Theo Run recently wrote about the questions she gets regarding her son and his skin color.

It's easy to point out families that "don't match" or comment on a larger family's number of children. Each family, whether they match or not, has a question they've heard umpteen thousand times that works that very last nerve. What I love about Harriett's post is how she says she might not be able to control the questions, but she can control her answer. She's a smart one!

She starts out explaining why her family stands out in a crowd:

Mom and SonIt’s easy to get caught up in a “default to irate” mindset when you stand out as a transracial adoptive family: the looks, the comments, the fact that on a crowded playground no one can immediately identify me as my son’s mother, that people insist on asking where my son is really from when I say he was born here, that it’s fair game to run their hands through his hair.

We do stand out but we’re not the only people who face invasive questions. My friend is a tall, lean, angular woman with a long nose, almond eyes, and the olive skin of her Iraqi roots. Her husband, a tall, stockier WASP, managed to send all of his features along to his daughters. The result is a pair of identical twin girls with blond ringlets, large blue eyes and pale skin. Their mother says that people stop, look at her and speak very slowly so she can understand them as they assume she is the nanny. And then comes the “double trouble” comments (guilty as charged!), the “Who is older” remarks, and so it goes.

She asks how you handle invasive (and/or inappropriate) questions. How do you handle them?

Read more from Standing Out in a Crowd at See Theo Run


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