Ask AF: Feeling Bad About Being Different

A parent whose daughter recently said that she "doesn't like being Chinese" wonders how she can help her embrace her culture and feel accepted.

Q: Recently, my four-year-old has been saying that she doesn’t like being Chinese. I thought she might benefit from some Chinese dance and art classes for adoptees, but she refuses to discuss attending them. What’s going on?


A: It’s wonderful that, at age four, your daughter is able to articulate what she is feeling and has created some boundaries for herself. Being Chinese may not really be the issue, though; a general feeling of being “different” may be bothering her. Her discomfort could have been caused by a question, an offhand comment, or anything that put her in the spotlight.

Instead of introducing Chinese culture classes at this point, you may want to consider some family activities that incorporate all of your different ethnic heritages. Work to reframe “difference” from something negative to a positive characteristic that makes each of us special. Eventually, culture classes with other adoptees may be just what she needs. Right now, however, some reassurance of belonging and connection seems more important.

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