Practicing Awareness of Microaggressions

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I am not sure if this example qualifies as a microaggression persay but I read an article this past week about “Things to never say to a working mom”. I have also read one about “Things never to say to a stay at home mom” and I have to say, as I was reading them I was thinking about this class and how these statements addressed in the articles were similar to the comments discussed in the media video we viewed for our discussion. The questions were not meant to be demeaning or offensive but were easily taken that way. They offended and made SAH moms and working moms feel inadequate.

It reminded me of the time someone told me that they would stop working and stay home once they had children because they “didn’t want someone else raising their child”. When they said it, it was not meant to be offensive but I took it that way. It made me feel as though this person thought I, and other working moms were selfish and that I was not taking responsibility for raising my child. I felt inadequate as a mother even though I knew I was doing what was best for my family and that I AM raising my child. I am the one who loves, cares for, feeds, bathes, teaches, disciplines, and raises my child but I am also lucky to have caregivers who are reflective of the way I am raising my child and are there to carry on what I do, when I can not be there. I felt the need to defend myself to her even though she was not directly telling me that I wasn’t raising my child.

Before the reviewing the media presentation this week and thinking about experiences of mine as well as friends, I did not realize how hurtful, seemingly innocent comments can be when they are connected to any type of discrimination, prejudice, or stereotype. It has opened my eyes and caused me to really stop and think before I speak.

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About toteachistotouchlives

Hi. My name is Kristen Hammel and I am a first grade teacher in Maryland. I am in my fourth year of teaching and now beginning my Masters program in Early Childhood Education at Walden University. I am very excited for this new journey I am embarking on and am excited to share my experiences with you.

7 responses »

  1. From the video this week, we learned people really don’t intend to offend others when making certain remarks about a particular class of people. I agree with Dr. Sue who could have replied to certain remarks as being culturally biased. SAH mothers have a great gift because they have an over abundance of unnoticed tasks to fulfill on a daily basis. Furthermore, working moms should not be demeaned because they do what is best for their family outside of their homes. All comments to both groups are merely opinions that we should be able to decipher and choose what is best for our family’s needs.
    Reference
    Laureate Education, Inc. (2011). Microaggressions in everyday life [Multimedia]. Retrieved from waldenu.edu: https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_2098810_1%26url%3D

  2. This week has taught me to definitely think about what I say before I say it. I usually do but this week in particular I noticed that I didn’t when dealing with an employee. I said “she must don’t know who I am” not like that but she must have really thought I was someone else, literally. I gave an employee an instruction and she totally disregarded it as if I was her peer and did the opposite. That comment came out and I laughed but needless to say I need to do a better job at paying more attention.

  3. I have explored alot from the video, and need to think before talking. Had a situation that I did not think before opening my mouth. I think we need to think before we even engage in conversation with children as well. Very Good Post!

  4. A friend of mine was actually talking about this earlier this week! While I am not a mother I am sure both sides (SAH moms and working moms) feel guilty about some part of their choice even though they should not since it is exactly that a choice and there is no right choice or no wrong choice but a decision that they made with their family in mind. One of my student’s mother who is a teacher still expresses feelings of guilt when she drops her children off each day to go teach. She shared a story with me about how someone once said to her “why aren’t you staying home after all you went through to have these children?”. Knowing that this mom and her husband used IVF to have both their children this was extra hurtful to her.

    I too did not realize how hurtful seemingly harmless comments could be and I am now more aware after this week’s class. This week I have thought more before I have said things and tried to think about how my words would be viewed before I expressed them. I think we have all become more aware this week and that is the first step, admitting there is a problem, to solving this concern.

  5. I think that it does fall under microaggression because her words can be misunderstood by other mothers that do not have that option. Unfortunately I did not have that choice. If I had have the opportunity i would have done it just because I would had more time to bond and enjoy the time of being with my children.

  6. Hi Kristen,
    Thanks for your post. I am sorry that you felt hurt when that comment was made to you and I understand why you would feel that way. I always take personally any negative remarks made about teachers, even when they are not directed at me necessarily. When I am passionate about something, I usually take it personally, but that is about me and not about what the other person necessarily meant. I don’t know if this helps you at all, but I just wanted to say that I also want to stay at home when I have my own children. It’s not because I think there is anything wrong with mothers who work. In fact, I am a nanny for a couple that I believe are great parents. The mom is a teacher. I understand her need, or desire, to work and I also respect the fact that she took great care in finding someone to care for her children while she cannot. I have no judgements about mothers who work, it is just a personal preference to stay at home if I can. I add “if I can” becasue I also know that sometimes it’s necessary to have the income. So, even though I would personally like to stay home with my children, it doesn’t mean that I judge mother who don’t. Maybe the woman who made that comment wasn’t judging you either. Just a thought. Keep up the good work!

  7. Kristen, as Dr. Sue explained: “Micro-aggressions are all those verbal behaviors that create feelings of inferiority, uncertainty, or marginalization even when no offense was consciously intended”. It also involves demeaning implications and other subtle offenses against certain social identities like “working mothers”.

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