White Dad of Black Girl Wonders What to Say When Lady Demands “Proof” He’s Legit

Readers — I didn’t know what to suggest to this dad, so please weigh in! – L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: I’m writing to share what happened to my daughter and me last night and to ask you and/or your readers for suggestions on how to handle this situation if it happens again.

I’m a white father to two 7-year-old black girls.  Yesterday evening, one of them was walking the dog with me when a woman stopped her car, got out, and walked toward us.

“Excuse me,” she said, pointing back and forth to me and my daughter, “but this is unusual.” She turned to my daughter and asked, “Do you know him?”  “Yes,” my daughter answered.  Then she asked, “Where is your mom?”  And my daughter replied, “At the store.”

That should have been the end of it, but the woman kept going.  “Do you need help?  Should we get the police?”  At this point, my daughter stopped answering her.  “OK.  You can stop now,” I said.

The woman then turned her attention to me.  “Is she your daughter?”  “Yes,” I answered, “she is my daughter.”

She still didn’t stop.  “Can you prove it?  Do you have any identification?”

Well, I wasn’t about to prove anything to her, nor was I going to provide any identification.  (Actually, I had left my wallet at home in my car anyway.)  So I said, “I appreciate your concern, but you can drop it now.”   And we walked away.

I can understand someone being concerned, but I don’t know how I could have satisfied this woman, nor should I have needed to.  But it’s something that could happen again, so I need suggestions on how to handle it.  My objectives are to quickly defuse the situation, model for my daughter how to handle awkward situations and pushy people, and not scare my daughter.  Do you have any suggestions?

Regards, Bob

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100 Responses to White Dad of Black Girl Wonders What to Say When Lady Demands “Proof” He’s Legit

  1. TM July 1, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    Frankly, the appropriate answer is: “This is my daughter, and it’s none of your business. Have a nice day.”

    If they persist, the next appropriate answer is: “Leave me alone or I will call the police”

    If they still persist, call 911.

  2. anonymous mom July 1, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    You are not beholden to provide identification to random strangers. I’d do just what you did: thank them for their concern, but let them no there is no problem. If they won’t drop it, let them call the police if they want. You are doing nothing wrong, and they are harassing you.

  3. Dirk July 1, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    This reminds me of a dad in a similar situation who was confronted by security at Walmart. It boggles the mind. I remember seeing one of those “what would you do” shows about it too.


    You shouldn’t have to explain anything. Even if someone looked at this family it should be pretty easy to tell from context that everything was normal (kids look happy! why thats just a family going for a walk! back to thinking about football now!).

    Outside of what you did I don’t know how you could do better. My only though was maybe it would be nice to have the perspective of someone who would act this way. Meaning find out what it was that really brought that woman out of her car and what you could have said or done to get the right results sooner…

  4. Celeste July 1, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    How upsetting. I don’t appreciate this lady’s concern one bit. What she did is totally out of line. If this had happened to me and my son (who is adopted and a different race than me), it would be difficult for me to refrain from telling her off. But I agree with TM that a short and definitive response is probably the best way to handle it. Or maybe you and your daughter can come up with a plan that if you ever encounter idiots like this, you both agree to burst into hysterical laughter and just keep walking together as if they don’t exist. So sorry this happened to you and your child.

  5. Jessica July 1, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    Call her out on her racism. The fact that she had the gall to point between you while saying “this is unusual” is appalling, and she needed to be told that. Ask her point blank if she would have thought it was unusual if you were both white, or both black. Don’t say this angrily, just openly. Your daughter will unfortunately need to have this modelled for her so that she can recognize and respond appropriately to racial bias that she will probably encounter in the future.

  6. Nicole July 1, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    I think he handled it amazingly well. I don’t understand her concern at all…what was she possibly thinking was going on? Take a note from his daughter, answer, then ignore and walk away.

  7. K July 1, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    You might say, “Pleased to meet you. Are you a neighbor of mine? I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Bob and this is my daughter ////. I don’t think we’ve met. What is your name? Which house are you in?”

    This would give you a small amount of information about her and how close she lives to you.

  8. Erica July 1, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    I am white and have an Asian child. I carry a picture of our family in my wallet to show in case this happens. I live in an area where interracial adoption is common enough that it doesn’t happen much, but even so have received some untoward comments. There are endless discussions of this issue on chat boards relating to adoption. I don’t know whether this family is an adoptive family or not, but it may be worth searching for them for inspiration.

    I wonder whether she thought she was stopping trafficking of the girls? It does not excuse the behavior at all, but might guide the response a bit – meaning, I would be attentive to emphasizing the family relationship as I walked away.

    I do know that it puts you in a very delicate spot, dealing with the impact of strangers’ comments on the kids’ feeling of safety, belonging and self. It has been very painful for my child. A thread on a local radio station’s feed the other day had to do with situations where a child is a different race, and it brought home just how many ways we can all be cruel to one another. This woman was over the top. If she did have concerns about trafficking, she was ineffective to say the least. And if, as seems far more likely, she was just a racist, she belongs in a special hell for people who do harm to children.

  9. Obi-Wandreas July 1, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    Here’s the appropriate response:

    “Oh, I’m sorry! We were walking together in public! How silly of me! Do send my apologies to the Kleagle, won’t you?”

  10. David July 1, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

    It sounds to me like you handled this situation much better than the lady did. I would say you did it exactly right, although the suggestion by K to turn the questioning around and ask if she was a neighbor of yours might be a good addition.

  11. Mandy July 1, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

    You didn’t ask her, “Is that your car? Do you have proof?”

    This blows my mind, but then again, I live in a community where there are a lot of mixed-race families, adoptions of foreign/other ethnic group kids, same-sex parents… Although I remember my mom mentioning getting funny looks and occasional comments about my blond brother (she has black hair, but we’re all Caucasian). But that was 30 years ago.

  12. Backroads July 1, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

    I like K’s answer. Kill her with kindness and neighborliness, emphasize the father-daughter relationship, and learn a bit about her.

    I also admit I’m a tad confused on the id bit. Unless he were to drag out his id, his daughter’s id, and birth certificate (adoption record?) a driver’s license would have proved nothing, crazy busybody.

  13. Tsu Dho Nimh July 1, 2014 at 6:02 pm #

    The SO came up with an idea … use the busybody as a teaching moment prop about racism. An object lesson.

    Ignore them, but use the comments as your own talking points.

    “Excuse me,” she said, pointing back and forth to me and my daughter, “but this is unusual.” And you tell the child, “She thinks it’s unusual because until the Loving decision, many states didn’t let whites and blacks get married.”

    She turned to my daughter and asked, “Do you know him?” You see, like many bigots, she doesn’t think that white people should know black people, and walk dogs with them.,

    Although the laughing maniacally as you walk off has a certain charm.

    Dad: “Oh, look, a concerned bigot!”
    Daughter: “They never change, do they.”

    Cue laughter, exit stage left.

  14. Tsu Dho Nimh July 1, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

    My objectives are to quickly defuse the situation, model for my daughter how to handle awkward situations and pushy people, and not scare my daughter.

    Bluntly, firmly telling her, “My family structure is none of your business. Good bye.” then turn and walk off …

    Or just turn and walk off … no comment needed.

  15. SteveS July 1, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    I don’t understand or appreciate the concern. Adoptions are not all that unusual. Frankly, I find the behavior of the busybody to be extremely rude and would answer the way that was suggested by TM in the first comment…polite, but firm. I see no reason to act too nice, nor do I think their behavior needs to acknowledged as appropriate.

  16. Andrea July 1, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

    I understand the father’s desire to defuse the situation, but what if he had turned the questions around on this woman?

    “This is unusual!”
    “What is unusual?”
    “What exactly do you find so unusual?”

    Then she would find herself having to defend her racism in front of these girls she purportedly wants to rescue. The girls themselves could be prepared to turn her questions around, too.

    “Is this your father?”
    “Who are you, and why are you interrogating me?”

    She puts herself in a power position by asking all of these questions, like she’s the grand inquisitor or something. Take the power back, make her answer for her rather crude behavior.

  17. Jill July 1, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    The best thing to do if anything like this ever happens again is for Bob to make the racist busybody sorry she ever confronted him.
    Tell her to get back in her car or she’ll be late for her Klan meeting. If there are witnesses to the encounter, get loud and make a scene. Announce that this person thinks people of different races have no business walking on a public street together. Inform her that we live in a country that has a black president who had a white mother, and you’re a white man who has black daughters who may someday grow up to be president and if she doesn’t like it, that’s too damn bad. Make it about race and don’t let her get a word in edgewise that she was afraid you were a kidnapper or a child molester or whatever nonsense scenario was festering in her fevered imagination. Keep calling her out on her racism until she flees. If she threatens to call the police, tell her to go ahead because you’re going to press charges against her.
    Pull out your cell phone and take her picture to use as “evidence.” That always throws a scare into people.

  18. Andrea July 1, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    What a horrible woman. And how dare she randomly interrogate your child. I know why she was concerned – she’s racist and irked that a mixed-race family has entered her eyeline. The other commenters here have excellent suggestions. Come up with a brief response pointing our her racism and the fact that your family is none of her business and there you have it.

    Ugh, I’m angry on your behalf and I don’t even know you.

  19. Lauren July 1, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

    A white grandfather in Texas had the same problem: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/14/white-grandfather-detained_n_1275383.html

    I would keep a photo of the entire family on my cell phone, just in case. I mean, some people might have stopped you if your daughter was white, because obviously all men are pedophiles.

  20. Ramona July 1, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    So it’s impossible to think that a kidnapper of a certain race would kidnap a child of their own race? Why not just walk up to ANY dad on the street and subject them to a barrage of questions about their relation to that child, jeez!

  21. Kate July 1, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    I think Bob’s response was perfect.

    I disagree with the other commentators who advise assuming hostile/bigoted intent off the bat, and responding defensively or with hostility in return. If the interlocutor IS bigoted and close-minded, a hostile response will only confirm her biases. If she is merely ignorant or (as are so many) paranoid that kidnapped/trafficked children are around every corner, then a hostile response will leave her in continued ignorance, and possibly create a confirmed bias where there wasn’t one before.

    A polite, firm, but neutral response could open minds that were merely ignorant, and frustrate bigotry by giving it no fuel.

    I liked the suggestion of returning the question by asking, “Why do you ask?” Were I in this position personally, I might also have a couple of handy numbers that could be invoked, not only in this position, but in response to other kinds of ignorant comments. This website looks like a good source for that: http://wearethe15percent.com/

    It’s worth doing a little educating because there are only going to be more interracial families in the future!

  22. hineata July 1, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

    Wow! The only time I have had anything close to this was at the border in Singapore, travelling when Boy was a baby with only my (white-looking) parents. And you have to be polite to border officials, if you don’t fancy languishing in jail…

    Though people I met when walking both Boy and my ‘care’ kid (white) always assumed ‘care-boy’ was mine :-).

    I like the hysterical laughter. Also, what was unusual? I think a woman stopping a car and demanding id from a total stranger is the unusual part of this situation. Sorry you had to go through this. I cannot imagine that it will happen again, surely to goodness, but if it does, try the hysterical laughter, or ignoring the oddball and walking away.

    You are likely to have ongoing race-based conversations with your kids (dependent I guess on whether they’re multi-racial or adopted) – I know mine spend time every so often considering where they fit in the world (like all people) and which race they feel like at the moment :-). Am sorry you had to have this particular convo though. All the best for the future.

  23. nina July 1, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

    People sometimes can be extremely judgmental. In my case it wasn’t racism, it was agism. I got married relatively young and had my first child by the time I was 24 and my second one when I was 26. The only problem was that when I was casually dressed with no make up I looked 12 (and not a mature 12 that looks 20 :). To make matters worse I couldn’t were a wedding ring because of some ridiculous skin irritation. People used to whisper behind my back. Some religious nutcases approached me twice to preach about virtues of abstinence. The whole situation was actually kind of funny, though I don’t remember laughing at the time.

  24. MichaelF July 1, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

    I think the Dad handled it perfectly, he was polite but also didn’t bait the Troll. Rule #1 in Trolling, never feed the troll in any way. Although I tend to be more snarky than most I’d probably be more like this:

    Lady: This is unusual
    Me: Yes, I usually don’t get people stopping their cars and getting out to harass me and my family on the sidewalk. Are you lost or should I just call the police?

    My kids look more like my wife than me (she is Chinese) but we have a lot of mixed families in my neighborhood so no one really thinks much of it. Though I have had looks in different cities when we have been travelling, but no one has really said much to my face yet. Probably good for them.

  25. SKL July 1, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

    My gut reaction would be to say something like “it ought to be illegal for people to harass folks on the street like this. Actually, maybe it is illegal. I should call the police and find out.” Before that, I’d probably say “there is no law requiring people to carry documentation of their legal relationships in this country.”

    I’m also a transracial mom, and I have to say I have not had any serious problems. Granted, I’m a woman. But I was afraid to travel out of the country with them until they could speak for themselves (“yes, this is our mother”). I had heard of one kid being held up at the border for days because she didn’t look like her adoptive parents. Heck, I still carry photo ID cards of my kids in my wallet, just in case. My kids were questioned in India to make sure they weren’t being exported into slavery. It’s a little different when your kids don’t look like you. But some lady on the street? Gimme a break.

    I do sometimes get unpleasant looks. Right now I’m traveling in Europe and there have been a couple of those “looks.” But so far nobody has had the gall to come up and accuse me of impropriety in front of my kids. I am not sure I would be a good example to my girls if that happened. 😛

  26. Kimberly July 1, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

    I’m a from Texas.

    Unless your child wasa struggling with you and screaming NO, the woman was rude and so far out of line she was orbiting Pluto.

    She was asking you for something that does not exist.

    What type of proof does any parent have that they are their child’s parent? Hell I carry more legal proof of having responsibility for my niece and nephew than my sister, their mother does in her purse. I have a medical POA that autorizes me to get them emergency medical care*. Their mother has what her driver’s licience proving she has the same last name?

    *We had a couple of incidents a while back where a child family member was injured and needed emergency but not life substaining care, stitches in one case and broken arm in another. The children where in pain and could not be treated for several hours because the parents could not be contacted. The stiches happened before cell phones were standard. The broken arm parents were in a place with no reception. Since in addition to a pack of free range kids with no fear gene – we also have peanut and fire ant allergies – medial POA’s all around.

  27. Warren July 1, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

    I cannot believe people saying to carry photo proof, in case this happens.

    I would have tore a strip off her so bad that she would never dare do something like this ever again.

    No you do not need to be polite, nice or diplomatic. And I darn well would not say thank you for anything.

  28. no rest for the weary July 2, 2014 at 12:16 am #

    “Excuse me,” she said, pointing back and forth to me and my daughter, “but this is unusual.”

    “Well, actually, interracial families are quite common these days. What’s unusual is people questioning them.”

  29. Cassie July 2, 2014 at 2:15 am #

    Obviously this was a step over. I am not justifying at all.

    I do have one related observation slash/question. Are people more likely to get involved today, then in the past?

    This women driving down the street has felt (wrongly yes, but she has felt it) compelled to stop and ask the child if she is okay. They were okay, everything went on well.

    I have always felt we lived in a very private society that would rather turn a blind eye to perceived incidents, then to get themselves involved.

    So for a women to stop the car and get involved, is this reflective of a turning point in our society. Are we more willing to be a bit of a busybody today then in the past… is this our human reaction to try to get past the layers of rules and red tape.

    This case was obviously out of place, she was completely wrong to pull over, but I am thinking about situations that would warrant a pull-over (perhaps an adult dragging a child along a street, or kid wandering around looking lost, or two kids walking along the street with a toddler – I am sure you get that reference).

    On one hand we are crying out for more free-ranging, but for that to work we need busy bodies… we need a community of adults prepared to say “this is unusual” and provide an opportunity for a young person to ask for help.

    I think the man handled himself well, and there were some really good comments for taking charge of the situation… but I am wondering if we should be careful about demonising her.

    We want our kids to be free-range, and this requires a community of adults prepared to say “this is unusual”.

  30. Bob Davis July 2, 2014 at 2:18 am #

    Probably not that important, but one wonders where this unpleasant incident occurred. At least one comment alluded to the Ku Klux Klan. Did this story come from one of the former Confederate States? I find it rather unlikely that it was in Southern California, New York City or a college town. One of my volunteer activities is assisting at a “Day out with Thomas the Tank Engine” at the Railway Museum in November. We get families from many different backgrounds, some have mixed “paint jobs”. All friends of Thomas are welcome, and we work hard to make sure everyone has a good time.

  31. Thomas Arbs July 2, 2014 at 2:34 am #

    While I appreciate a concerned citizen and really think we often should have more of them not less, this is obviously so way out of line it borders on the ridiculous, and some readers have now suggested actually ridiculing the woman. I am a white male with a white daughter who has both Asian and Hispanic friends and may well be encountered walking the street with all three of them – now that would be unusual to her! It also shows they need not even be family to be none of her concern, I can walk the street with anyone I like.

    What scares me in this context is the thought of a dad of color with a white child and how what is a harmless banter for the one could quickly turn into a serious situation for the other. I wish I had good advice for dealing with the situation, but it’s too absurd for a serious way out.

  32. Celeste July 2, 2014 at 2:51 am #

    Unfortunately, although you acknowledge the wrong that took place, you’re comparing an interracial or transracial family with an emergency situation – by implying that both might well prompt someone to intervene. That’s racist. This lady should be demonized. That little seven year old girl will not likely forget this incident; it was awful. Those sorts of prejudiced, paranoid, judgmental people are frightening – and not helpful to our children. But they do exist, and we have to be able to deal with them and keep our wits about us and our dignity intact. To respond to your question, I don’t think today people are more likely to get involved in any meaningful way than they were in the past. Today people analyze things in the context of what they see on tv and online in their newsfeeds, and that may prompt them to react (like this imbecile did) but sadly I don’t think people generally know their neighbors as much or provide any real protection or support for families in their communities, the way you seem to be suggesting.

  33. Celeste July 2, 2014 at 3:01 am #

    Thomas – While I appreciate your point about considering the role reversal (& sadly you’re right about that); still, this was NOT harmless banter. It was a painful assault on a family, and possibly the deep wounding of a child. Guarantee it’s not the first or the last time this little girl has to deal with something like this; and yes, it takes a toll.

  34. BL July 2, 2014 at 5:16 am #

    In the small-town, rural area where I live, people are 99% white. Nevertheless, a few days ago at a convenience store, I saw a white man enter with two young girls, one white and one black.

    No question it was this:


  35. Bob July 2, 2014 at 6:41 am #

    Thanks for all your thoughtful responses and for your support.

    Some folks seem to be making assumptions about the woman’s race. The woman in question is black. I’m not sure it really matters because the next time it could be someone of a different race.

    One person wondered if this happened in the south. Nope. This happened in Connecticut.

    My daughter doesn’t seem bothered by this incident, but I guess we never know what sticks in the recesses of her mind. As we walked away, she said, “Well *that* was weird.”

    – Bob

  36. anonymous mom July 2, 2014 at 7:12 am #

    I’m not sure we need to jump to the conclusion that this was somehow traumatic or awful for the child, or that she’ll never forget it. Kids are amazingly resilient and, especially in a situation like this, are going to be faced with many questions about their family. That’s not right or fair, but it’s how it is, and I’m guessing they’ll learn to handle these questions pretty quickly and not be traumatized by them.

    I also think that, even if people are being wrong or ridiculous, if your first response is to give them the benefit of the doubt and to respond as graciously as you can–which the father here did–things will go better. The fact is, questions like this area reality for inter- and transracial families. And if they go around biting the heads off of every stranger with a stupid, rude, or thoughtless question, they’ll be biting off a lot of heads. IMO, that’s not how a lot of learning is going to take place, because in general shaming doesn’t lead to good learning. People I know in that situation have often found that having a polite or even a funny reply to these sorts of questions diffuses the situation much more quickly and leads to a better outcome. Just because somebody is rude to us, doesn’t mean we have to be rude back.

    And of course the father didn’t *actually* appreciate her concern. I mean, any time anybody says to you “I appreciate your concern/Thanks for your concern, but…” they are really saying, “I’m saying ‘Mind your own business’ in the most polite way I can.”

  37. Jill July 2, 2014 at 7:56 am #

    The woman was black, eh? She was still a racist in thinking something was suspicious about a white man and a black child peacefully walking a dog down the street. And what kind of an officious nut asks people to produce identity papers? What kind of documentation did she think would prove Bob was on the up-and-up and not a rapist/kidnapper/child sex trafficker? Anyone that paranoid probably thinks all men, particularly white men (because slavery!)are up to something nefarious.
    She may have thought Bob had acquired the dog for the sole purpose of luring children to his torture den, because that’s what happens all the time on TV. People need to get a grip.

  38. J- July 2, 2014 at 8:29 am #

    Walk softly and have a lawyer on retainer.

  39. E July 2, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    Bob – you handled the situation great and your daughter’s response following was perfect. I’m not sure losing your cool at the woman (as tempting as it may have been and as some have suggested) would accomplish much. Your decorum in front of your kids didn’t make an odd situation worse.

    I bet you could reflect back on the encounter with your kids (if/when appropriate) and talk about the options you had and why you did/didn’t choose them…OR if you decide you wished you’d handled it differently, how so.

    Sorry you had to go thru this.

  40. E July 2, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    I’ll add…I am friends with a inter-racial married couple (white male, black female) and my friend commented that when they dine out alone, they often get asked if it should be separate checks….like a LOT (it happened the day we were discussing it). She said she always wants to say something, but really doesn’t know what or if it’s even worth it so she never does.

    Having been with the same person (same race) for 25 years…I can honestly say we’ve NEVER been asked if it’s separate checks.

  41. Ann July 2, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    Wow. What absolutely hideous behavior from that woman. I’m so appalled I don’t even know where to start. I would say that you handled it exceptionally well, much better than I would have in that situation! Good for you for keeping your cool!

  42. lollipoplover July 2, 2014 at 9:19 am #

    “Excuse me, but this is unusual”
    (noticing the white father with a black daughter)

    Here’s some Census information to back you up:
    Among opposite-sex married couples, one in 10 (5.4 million couples) are interracial, a 28% jump since 2000. In 2010, 18% of heterosexual unmarried couples were of different races (1.2 million couples) and 21% of same-sex couples (133,477 couples) were mixed.
    The data show “we’re becoming much more of an integrated, multiracial society,” says demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution.

    So my response would be:
    “Actually, it’s not unusual at all. 1 in 10 families in this country are interracial.
    Hi. My name is Bob. What’s yours?”

    And kill them with kindness.
    When someone tries this again, turn the lemons into lemonade for the sake of your daughters and stand your ground as a proud and capable father. I would also ask many questions back to the busybody to make it equally awkward for them. Here are some:
    “Where’s your husband?”
    “Do you have kids?”
    “What are their names?”
    “Are you with the welcome wagon committee? Do I get a free basket?”
    “This IS unusual. Are you OK? I wasn’t expecting to be stopped for no reason.”

  43. Dhewco July 2, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    I’ve read the post a couple of times, and I still don’t get where he says it was a white woman.

  44. Dhewco July 2, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    Sorry, just read all the responses and caught Bob’s comment about the woman’s race. Never mind, then.

    I agree that it’s still racist (some people seem to doubt that black people can be called racist, but I don’t agree).

  45. Warren July 2, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    Don’t get fooled. People of all races can be supreme bigots. Does not matter, racist is racist.
    Can you imagine if this guy wasn’t the dad, but just watching the chid for a friend, or part of some mentor program, or whatever other reason they would have been together?

  46. Captain America July 2, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    Bob, you found yourself the Local Zealot!

    For me, I’m apprehensive of having to live in a society which lacks basic trust. This is happening more and more, and will continue to increase.

    So I anticipate that in the near future, we’ll simply have to fork over I.D. to anyone demanding it who has a cellphone.

    The Safety & Security State does create problems for us. Particularly galling if you’re one of the few Americans left who likes to be treated as a full and rational adult.

  47. Jim Collins July 2, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    I have one question. Was the woman White or Black? From looking at the replies, a lot of people are assuming that the woman was White.

  48. marie July 2, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    What if Bob were an uncle instead of the girl’s dad? Or a family friend? Or a stranger she just met and is walking with because they are going the same directoin? Still absolutely NO reason for someone (of any color) to stop their car and interrogate a SEVEN YEAR OLD CHILD.

    The situation is not about someone questioning parentage, it is yet another situation of someone assuming that a man is inherently dangerous. Would she have stopped her car if it were a woman walking with the child? I could be wrong but I doubt it happens as often with women–and I would bet that the questions are much less hostile. (If I am wrong about that, I am sorrier than you can imagine.)

    I do like the suggestions of turning the questions back on the woman. “What do you find unusual? Why do you ask?” By answering her at all, you encourage her.

  49. Matthew July 2, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    Racist and sexist. I find it likely a white woman with a black daughter would have been stopped.

    I’d have struggled to be polite, but it was likely the right call. After one or two polite sentences though, telling her that if she didn’t stop harassing my daughter I’d call the cops wouldn’t be out of line.

  50. Gary July 2, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    “Obviously this was a step over.”

    A step? Cassie she missed the exit ramp by like 10 miles.

  51. Gary July 2, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    And i would have lost my f’ing mind.

  52. pentamom July 2, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    “On one hand we are crying out for more free-ranging, but for that to work we need busy bodies… we need a community of adults prepared to say “this is unusual” and provide an opportunity for a young person to ask for help.”

    No. The only alternative to alienation is not busybodiness. It is cultivating a reasonable sense of when something is not right, and a fair sense of when something occurring to others is serious enough to be your concern. A skewed sense of something not being right is not to be applauded because it doesn’t actually get us any closer to anything constructive. Busybodiness is the reflexive attitude that if someone is not you, it’s likely they’re doing it wrong, plus the belief that it’s your job to fix it. That’s not community spirit, that’s something else.

  53. marie July 2, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    Busybodiness is the reflexive attitude that if someone is not you, it’s likely they’re doing it wrong, plus the belief that it’s your job to fix it.

    Perfectly said.

  54. Donna July 2, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    Oh good god, can we please stop with every little thing is a harmful assault on a child from which they can never recover. Good grief, it was obnoxious but certainly not a life-altering experience that will haunt this girl for the rest of her life unless Bob wants to make it one (and it doesn’t appear that he does). Children have recovered from far worse.

    I am not justifying what the woman did. Based on the reports that we get from men who are the same race as their children being confronted when out with their children, I’m not jumping to any conclusion about racism, but she is clearly a whack-a-doodle.

  55. Asya July 2, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    Weird situation. But why is everyone advocating 911?! Just like no one here wants busybodies to call 911 or CPS when the busybody has a stupid reason like kids playing in a park, there is no good reason for calling 911 (911!!! Serious business for emergencies not your personal offended feelings hotline!!!!) on who someone is simply a rude and stupid person. Mr. Bob, next time ask her stupid questions back.

  56. Bob July 2, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    There would be no reason to call 911. If either of us wanted to involve the police, we could easily have flagged down a police car. This happened on a busy street literally within sight of (0.2 miles according to Google maps) the police department. We were probably passed by ten police cars while we were on our walk, and none of them felt compelled to stop and investigate.

    But one of my objectives is to defuse this situation if it ever happens again. Involving the police certainly wouldn’t do that and would be a last resort.

    This incident took me by surprise. When the woman said, “This is unusual,” I thought she was about to ask an intrusive question about adoption. I have enought experience with that to know how to deal with it. But I was so shocked at the direction she went that I didn’t have time to think about how to react.

    My daughter doesn’t seem bothered. She will certainly deal with much more difficult race-related events in her life. She needs to learn how to deal with them. As a white male, I don’t have much experience to draw on.


  57. Alanna July 2, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    If your daughters are adopted just say so. My daughter and I are of a different race, and I love it when people ask about it because I get to promote something I believe in, adoption. I have even encountered a few people who had been thinking about it but did not know how to go about it. They may ask me through what agency I adopted. I tell them and hopefully that gets the process started for them

  58. Krissy July 2, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    One of my favorite etiquette type sites has some good phrases that come to mind here: “My, what an interesting assumption!” and “So kind of you to take an interst.” Then end the conversation.

  59. JJ July 2, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    I love K’s answer. It does so many things at once, including setting a great example for his child.

  60. JJ July 2, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    Also, what on earth would identification have proved to this woman anyway. “well that confirms it. Your name is John Johnson and you are 5′ 11″ and you have an eyeglass restriction for driving. Ipso Facto, you are not this child’s father!”

  61. JJ July 2, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    And one more thing–why do they have to be a father and daughter anyway? You can’t take a walk with a friend’s daughter or neighbor or something?

    Ok, I’ll stop at three comments. Even though I could go on.

  62. derfel cadarn July 2, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    Tell her to FOAD ! It is NOT her damned business

  63. Heather July 2, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    I think he handled it perfectly.

  64. SKL July 2, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    Just to clarify, it does not bother me that people stop to check and make sure a child is all right, in a neighborly way. That is easy enough to do without making accusations and certainly without demanding documentation. A child old enough to walk and talk will give off vibes of either “yeah, this is perfectly normal for me” or “I’m scared / hurting.”

    There have been times when I’ve had a funny feeling about whether a kid is OK. The color of the kid or his parents has nothing to do with it. I will get close enough to feel the kid’s vibes and pretty much always conclude (correctly) that everything is hunky dory. So far it has never occurred to me to ask the parent anything beyond “can I be of help?”

  65. Yocheved July 2, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

    I think he handled it perfectly. I’ve heard SO many stories about how Black women with light skinned biracial children get referred to as “the nanny” or “the maid”. It’s sickening in this day and age that people are still so ignorant – especially in times when interracial adoption and blended families is so commonplace.

    Sadly, my only surprise is that this woman was concerned about the welfare of Black children. Usually someone only gets suspicious when the child is white.

  66. Yocheved July 2, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

    OK, I just read all the comments, so I have to add something else. I assumed the woman was white, because white people tend to assume a lot of things about Black people. I’m surprised that the woman was Black, because she should KNOW BETTER. She knows that white folks assume a lot about Black people, and how tiring that can be.

    I don’t know if I can go so far as to call the woman racist, bigoted, prejudiced, etc. but I can certainly say that she was ignorant and out of line. She could certainly use some education in blended families – not to mention a good lesson in tact.

  67. Donna July 2, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

    The thing is, we don’t really know where Bob lives other than Connecticut. Bi-racial children and transracial adoptions are commonplace in some areas in the US, but certainly not everywhere. Neither are unheard of where I live, but the schools aren’t exactly full of them either.

    My white friends who are raising a black child get asked about him all the time. Not in a confrontational way like this woman did, but people are curious as to how they came to be raising this child. Theirs is a situation with no easy answers, but they are never put out by the questions if asked respectfully.

  68. Kim July 3, 2014 at 12:02 am #

    you could try to out-crazy her. “What are you some kind of RACIST!?” Start video taping her, get her licence plate on the film and her face and say “This women refuses to believe that a black child could have a father! Look at this racist woman harassing black children for being outside! I’ve seen her do it at least twice!”

  69. Kim July 3, 2014 at 12:03 am #

    you could try to out-crazy her. “What are you some kind of RACIST!?” Start video taping her, get her licence plate on the film and her face and say “This women refuses to believe that a black child could have a father! Look at this racist woman harassing black children for being outside! I’ve seen her do it at least twice!”

    Mostly joking, she sounds like a pro-level crazy

  70. Christina July 3, 2014 at 12:29 am #

    Wow. I am very, very impressed with this dad’s restraint! My kids would have learned new cuss words…

  71. CrazyCatLady July 3, 2014 at 1:04 am #

    Yocheved, sure, the lady should have known better because of her own race. But the thing is…there are a lot of people out there of all races who feel that interracial marriage is diluting “their” gene-pool. And that children up for adoption should ONLY be placed with families of the same race. Having an African American have these views is really no better than a Neo Nazi having the same views. But it does happen.

    Personally, I think the dad’s approach was just fine. He will have a witty come back to educate the questioning person if this happens again, thanks to some great answers on here.

    My kids have a teacher who has 11 kids. From three continents. I don’t know how he answers these types of questions, but I am pretty sure that he doesn’t get much of the “You know there is birth control, right?” Knowing him, he would wink at the person and say that the said child takes after his grandmother. Or something like that to take the person off guard.

  72. Cassie July 3, 2014 at 1:32 am #

    I guess I have faith that Lenore did not post this article so we could all have a bitch about how racist this woman was.

    I assumed she posted the article so we could have a discussion about what this means for the free-range kids movement.

    My questions are about whether having busybodies is an essential (or unavoidable) part of having a society/community of people willing to keep their eyes open.

    The idea of “drop you kids to the park” day is that the parents of the young kids will still be hanging around keeping half-an-eye on the park…

    What do you think they will see… a child being snatched by a masked man or a mother beating her child in the playground? More likely it is the unusually things that are noticeable… the kid would has nothing to eat and is eyeing of all the other kids lunches etc.

    So I think it is an improvement on the status quo to have parents looking out for unusual things. Call it a step or a mile (it means the same thing), this woman was wrong, we all get that, I think we have exhausted the topic of complaining about how wrong she was (and how racist it was) – I agree with that.

    I was just interested in this as a conversation about whether it reflects an increased willingness of community members to get involved in situations that they deem out-of-the-ordinary. However,I see that the preference is for discussing the issue of racism, so I will leave it here.

  73. Owen Allen July 3, 2014 at 4:13 am #

    I hope they saw the funny side of this (at least later). I have friends, she is a very white anglo and he is a very black Bouganvillean (PNG). They are both very short and medium builds. Their son is kinda half way in pigment and very tall and lean. I know she is often asked if he’s adopted. She takes it very well but then again she probably sees how other migth see the strangeness. In this case you presented, it might take a bit more interest in th eother, but a powerful enquiry could be set up through listening to the obvious, “Are you concerned about something?” and then an understanding might happen. We don’t always know what motivates this type of ‘jumping to conclusions’, but even if it is an imaginary state, only a dose of reality will dispel it.

  74. David Kennerly July 3, 2014 at 6:45 am #

    You didn’t mention it, probably believing it unimportant (and good for you) but, perhaps it is pertinent here: what was the race of this lady?

  75. anonymous mom July 3, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    I’m not sure why anybody thinks this woman’s concern was not only okay, but a good thing.

    Yes, seeing a parent with a child of a different race is unusual. But, lots of things are unusual. Same-sex parents are unusual. Single dads are unusual. Very large families are unusual. But none of these are unusual things that should in and of themselves cause alarm.

    If the little girls were screaming and crying and fighting their father, I could understand going over and asking if everything was okay. That could raise some reasonable concern (although, since kids throw tantrums, not an extremely high level). But, an unusual family situation in and of itself should NOT cause people to confront a family with worst-first assumptions.

    That is not reasonable concern. That is not good for children. That is not a positive sign of more community involvement. (I also don’t think it’s horrifically despicable and racist, but that’s another issue.) It’s a sign that more and more people are unable to distinguish what is actually a danger and what isn’t.

  76. anonymous mom July 3, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    @Cassie, the problem is that, while you are right that most abductions don’t involve masked men carrying off children, most don’t involve strangers at all. They involve non-custodial parents and other family members.

    Does that mean that every time a person sees a grandmother out with a child, they should make sure she hasn’t kidnapped the kid? That if I’m out alone with my kids, I should have strangers check in with them to make sure I’m not kidnapping them from their father?

    No. Reasonable concern for children means, to me, things like keeping an eye on a small child playing near a street or asking a very small child who appears to be alone and may have wandered off if they are okay or lending a hand to a parent who seems to be having a hard time. It doesn’t mean being on the lookout for anything you think might indicate a kidnapping, especially when often the “red flag” for people is nothing more than a man being out with his children. That’s just paranoia run amok.

  77. Naomi July 3, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    To put everything on the table, I’m a white woman living in Birmingham, AL, which is still much more racially segregated than I’d like. I’ve also submerged myself in black culture at times. (I’ve taught at and subbed at high schools that are over 95% black, and my daughter was the only white child in her otherwise black class for 2.5 years. I went to camps as a child where I was the only white person in the room. On occasion I’ll go to an exercise class where I’m the only white person in the room.)

    That said, I immediately assumed this woman was black, and I *do* think it matters. In my experience, she would probably consider it a defining feature of herself and part of her identity in a way that white people rarely would. As a people, African Amercians have been held down, mistreated, abused, etc, by white people for over 500 years in this country. 40 years ago you would probably not be seen in public walking down the street with a black child, even if she was your biological daughter. There is still a significant achievement gap in school achievement based on race, but there is also documented discrimination in the workplace and in other areas of our society. (I’m not talking about the anecdotal evidence, I’m talking about general trends.) Whatever evidence there is of improvement in the last 40 years is nothing compared to centuries of mistreatment. So, we shouldn’t be surprised if there’s some fear and suspicion in the black community of white people. If we can all step back for a minute, I think we’ll see that this suspicion is well-earned. I’ll go a step farther and say that it would be foolish not to be suspicious of us at this point.

    Because your child has been blessed to belong to a persecuted minority group, there will be strangers looking out for her on occasion. There will be people who feel protective of her simply because she is a child that looks like them, and because they’ve had negative experiences, and because they have a sense of responsibility to take care of “their” youth. (The it-takes-a-village mentality is not that unusual.) This is a good thing, and does little to balance out the lower expectations that teachers and society will have for her as a result of her skin color. (I’m going to second someone’s idea that by freeranging we assume a certain community responsibility of children. We assume others will step in if our kids are in trouble and we aren’t there. And, we assume a responsibility to step into situations where a child who is not with parents looks like he or she might be in trouble.)

    All this said, I think the way to deal with this situation is the way that you deal with scared people in general–you reassure them. You try to calm them down. It would have been better if your child had claimed you as her father as soon as the woman asked if she knew you, because it would have been more reassuring coming from her than from you. But other than that, I think killing with kindness is the best approach. “I don’t have my wallet with me right now–it’s back at our house. Do you want to walk home with us and you can see it?” I think that playing along is probably the easiest way to go, if you have time, and does more to make her realize that she’s being hyper-suspicious for herself (something that all the snarky comments in the world won’t do).

    I think that it’s important to remember that this is a good-intentioned person who is worried about your child. She thinks that this black child may have been abducted by a strange white man with bad intentions. She could have approached the situation more tactfully, but she doesn’t need to be attacked or dismissed or treated poorly. Once she realizes without-a-doubt that she’s accosted a child and her father unnecessarily, she’ll probably be mortified.

  78. Rich July 3, 2014 at 11:55 am #

    I would have said “Do I know you?” or “Do you randomly stop and bother people” or “What business is it of yours”.

    If said person did call the police, perfect opportunity for a lawsuit.

  79. E July 3, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    @Naomi, thanks for that thoughtful post. I’m not sure I agree with offering to go back home to prove who I am (and then I’m not sure how the kids are identified as his anyway), but I pretty much agree with everything else you’ve said as far as background and life experiences.

    I used to live and work in the deep south. The private company I worked for was run by racist. I managed a dept that was hiring staff and another person was also hiring at the same time. A candidate for my group wasn’t really qualified, but was a good candidate for the other position (a receptionist) and I liked her very much. When I made the suggestion, I was told that the Pres would never allow a black person to be the front receptionist. Same manage disparaged some black coworkers (behind their backs and because of their skin color) while in the presence of white employees (including me). This wasn’t the 1960s…this was the 1990s.

    That experience forever changed my viewpoint on so many things because I realized that people like that are alive and well and control the opportunities of others.

    I’ve retold that working experience COUNTLESS times as evidence of continued & real racism that affects people’s lives and livelihood.

    Sure, the woman was overstepping, but her life experience is likely what led her there. Teachable moments don’t just apply to children, we can all learn from each other.

  80. John July 3, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    This lady was being extremely rude and it was really none of her business as there was no evidence whatsoever that this man was doing anything carnal with these girls.

    But you know, everybody has become so jumpy and over reactive since the Penn State scandal. Most recently, the head coach of the Mankato State football team was a victim of this insanity. Turns out he had pictures on his business cell phone of his toddler-age children fresh out of the bath tub (nude of course). Apparently somebody saw those pictures and felt it was their civic duty to report those photos to the police. So the man is then arrested and spent time in jail. But a very reasonable Judge dismissed the case saying that he knows pornography when he sees it and in no way, shape or form, were those pictures the man had on his cell phone of his own children even close to being child pornography. Regardless, in the wake of the Penn State scandal, the university did not want to take any chances on their reputation so they basically over reacted and fired the coach anyways. But just recently, after filing a few grievances, the coach got his job back. The poor guy was in tears over the whole ordeal with his reputation still tarnished!

    But during the Penn State scandal when it seemed that EVERYBODY who had anything to do with Penn State (alumni, cheerleaders, football team, coaches, etc., etc.) got into trouble for not being clairvoyant enough to know that Sandusky was sexually abusing young boys, these so-call experts got on the major news networks and said, “Look, if you even remotely suspect that a child is being sexually abused, you must report it immediately!” Well as far as I’m concerned, before I report my neighbor, or friend, or relative, to the police for suspected child sex abuse, I’m gonna have to be pretty damn certain that is indeed what they were doing! I’m certainly gonna need more evidence to go on than just my gut feeling or inkling before I risk a good friendship or alienating myself from my family. You know, sometimes “gut feelings” can be wrong!

    These “experts” don’t seem to realize that even being suspected of child sex abuse can ruin a person’s life forever! And nowadays with all of the over reaction, merely talking to a youngster on your street can arouse some busy body’s suspicion, just like the man in this article. I mean, so what if the lives of a few innocent adults and their families are ruined, as long as we make sure that kids are protected! Crazy crazy.

  81. E July 3, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    @John, I don’t know that there’s anything to be gained about rehashing the Penn State situation here, but I think you are glossing over things. When someone saw them in the shower together, it’s not a gut feeling.

    Against (amid) the backdrop of what happened at PSU…encouraging people to act differently than they did at Penn State (when they “suspect” something) is exactly the correct advice. The “suspicions” were correct! It could have saved victims.

    Let’s remember (in Bob’s story) that this woman did not call the police. She may have been misguided and acted out of irrational concern (though Naomi points out that it might be more rational than we’d care to admit), but she didn’t engage the police. Presumably she accepted Bob’s responses since that was the end of the story. Hopefully she walked away with a different experience/perspective.

  82. J.T. Wenting July 3, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    people harass you like that, call the police on them. Use the same reasoning they use, “they’re trying to find out where I live so they can steal my child”.
    That should be the last of it…

  83. E July 3, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

    I’m continually surprised that people condone calling the police over something like this. What crime did the woman commit? The same kind of non-dangerous situation that other people continue to complain about every single day here when the police are called?

    I don’t get that at all. Don’t call the police if you have a concern about a minor child, but call the police if someone offends you for not minding their own business.

    Ok then.

    You get that you deciding “wow it was none of her business and she’s harassing me…call the police” is really no different than someone else deciding that little girls unsupervised at a shopping center require a call to the police, right? You are deciding and projecting YOUR take on a situation and deciding it’s a crime?

    Did the woman follow them? Did she threaten them? Was Bob fearful?

    Sometimes I don’t get this place.

  84. Becky July 3, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    In this particular situation I probably would have said something like, “My name is *Bob*, and this is my trained protection dog *Barney*. If you do not stop harassing my daughters this instant I will drop this leash and give him the command to attack.”

    Of course, that doesn’t work quite as well if “Barney” is a Chihuahua….

  85. Nexist418 July 3, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    Tell her to stop traumatizing your children and to go away.

  86. Jessica July 3, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

    For a site dedicated to letting kids be “free range,” everyone sure is clinging to the idea that the daughter was wounded by this.

    We all know kids learn by example. This woman should be “taught a lesson” in the same way we’d want to teach our kids while they’re watching how we respond. Bob reacted well.

    As we tell our kid: when you meet someone who doesn’t know how to behave, show them.

  87. SKL July 3, 2014 at 8:33 pm #

    No, I am sorry, the fact that the woman is Black does not justify her assumption that a white man with a black child has likely abducted her or acquired her for evil purposes.

    Let’s be rational and expect a little rationality, especially out of people who have had tough experiences. What is the statistical likelihood that a white man with a black girl, walking a dog in a neighborhood, is committing a crime against the child? I have been alive a long time and I have never heard of this being a rampant issue in any US community. But even if I’ve missed that, wouldn’t such a big girl have disagreed or made some sort of face if the man was lying about being her father? Documentation my arse. And then if he’d countered by asking her for documentation as to why she has a right to walk down that street (just to show her how ridiculous her question was), he’d be the racist.

  88. hineata July 3, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

    Hi Bob, have been thinking some more on this after reading everyone elses’ answers, and I think what you tell your girls might come back to whether they are bi/multi-racial, or adopted. I don’t think you mentioned that.

    If adopted, there does seem to be a lot of anger out there, some of it entirely justified, about transracial adoptions. Eric Schweig writes about it from a native Canadian perspective, there are the Lost Generations of Australia, some stuff in NZ from the last generations, etc., etc. Not sure about the States up until this generation. And from what I read linking through Michael Pearl’s site from this one a few threads ago (about the Ethiopian abuse deaths)
    there still seem to be some fairly dodgy adoption practices occurring. Some seem to think we need to rescue those poor little dark/black babies….. :-(. One crazy woman had adopted, it was thought, more than thirty Ethiopian kids (the kids themselves weren’t sure how many had cycled through the family). Have lost the link, darn it….

    Which isn’t to say that you or anyone else on this site are practicing dodgy adoptions. But you may face increased prejudice because of those that are…And you should maybe be talking to your girls about the various issues involved in transracial adoption, including what went wrong in the past.

    Whereas if your daughters are yours biologically, and just happen to look more like your wife than you, there will be a different set of conversations to have. As stated above, the conversations in our family are ongoing and usually kind of fun. It is becoming very common to be multiracial, but it does come with it odd little issues….chief of which in our family seems to be what to do when faced with the dreaded ethnicity stats, where you have to choose one over another. So irritating.

    Either way one upset woman on the street shouldn’t scar your kids for life.

  89. Nicole R. July 4, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    “Excuse me, but this is unusual.”

    “Fortunately, it’s beconing less and less so. – Have you seen that cute Cheerios commercial? – My daughter and I love walking our dog here, and we hope you’ll help us spread the word that there are all kinds of nice families to meet in this neighborhood.”

  90. John July 5, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    @E….did the alumni, cheerleaders, football team etc. see Sandusky in the showers with these young boys? No, it was an assistant coach who IMMEDIATELY reported it but yet he STILL gets blamed and ostracized for not doing what everybody thought was enough. Not only him but everybody who had anything to do with the Penn State football program gets blamed and stigmatized even when most had nothing to do with the scandal.

    So I highly disagree with you in that the Penn State situation can be very relevant to these kind of situations. So now everybody wants to be a vigilante for the cause of child safety. Nobody wants to be accused of looking the other way like those Penn State b……. did. So with that being the case, you’re bound to see people, like this busy body lady, over react and as a result, innocent people run the risk of having their lives ruined over it! Just ask the American Muslim community what they went through as a result 9/11.

  91. E July 6, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

    @John, I guess I fail to see how PSU cheerleaders and football players got stigmatized. I see how the football program was impacted obviously, but not so sure about them being stigmatized?

    Every time there is a NCAA violation with penalty, it affects the student athletes, the vast majority of whom didn’t have anything to do with the infraction to begin with. That’s just the way it works (fair or not).

    I get that PSU alums are very sad about what happened at PSU and JoPa, but what happened there was wrong, and people knew it.

    My husband is from PA and has many friends who went to PSU (and have children attending now). They are very bitter, but the PSU case is NOT the one to hold up about people overreaching in concern. If they’d handled it differently, it wouldn’t have turned out the way it did…the part that you seem so bothered with.

  92. SOA July 6, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

    wow what a witch. I hate how good loving attentive fathers get attacked for doing what they are supposed to do! Taking care of their kids!

    Yet women like this are the first to bitch about a man that does not take care of his kids or runs off on his kids. So men are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. The child was showing no distress. She seemed happy and fine. There was no reason for the questioning.

  93. Virginia July 7, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    The less said the better to these sanctimonious busybodies. I am the white mother of a black child and when I am asked intrusive questions, I usually just stare blankly at the questioner for a brief moment and walk away with my daughter. I think Bob handled the situation beautifully and by not getting angry, but being firm, will empower his daughters. That said, I do have a state issued picture ID for my child (we share the same rather uncommon last name)that I used to carry (and she now carries) to help quickly diffuse any more troublesome situations that might arise (such as a store security officer who called the police when I was bodily manhandling my then toddler daughter from the store while she threw an epic tantrum!).

  94. SKL July 7, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

    No, Hineata, it is not understandable that people think transracial adoptions are probably corrupt. It is no more understandable than thinking random men are probably having incest with children. Things happen in international adoption sometimes, but that is not the norm. Nobody hears about the thousands of cases that were legit, just about the one that wasn’t.

    It is a shame that I have to tell my daughters about shit that they will hear/read that is blown way out of proportion. Maybe they will believe the exaggerated hype instead of believing the careful research I did and the documents I have. Maybe they will think I stole them from their birth moms. This is not OK. Shame that I even have to say that.

    Do we encourage parents to tell their young daughters about incest because some parents do it and somebody might ask unfounded questions? Because you know how relatively common that is compared to the other stuff we scare kids about.

  95. Sandi July 8, 2014 at 12:42 am #

    What a strange and rude woman. I can’t believe anyone would ask such a thing. Besides, how on earth could showing an ID prove anything about his paternity??

  96. NicoleK July 9, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    On the spot, it’s hard to think of what to do, but next time totally play the “I am offended by your racism” card, turn things around and put HER on the defensive.

  97. NicoleK July 9, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    Oh, and tell your kids, loud enough for the lady to hear “Some people think white people and black people can’t get married (or white people should only adopt white people, or whatever your family scenario is), so when they see parents whose kids are differnt colors they get angry. This is called racism”

  98. Ben Trafford July 12, 2014 at 3:18 am #

    I’m a father of a child who is obviously of the same race as me. I’ve been asked for ID at public parks. I’ve had a woman interrupt a game of “chase the dinosaur” with my son to ask him if he was in danger. I’ve been told I wasn’t welcome at baby/parent groups when he was younger.

    Oddly, in every case, it was a woman who decided to interrogate me. Our society has done a very good job of training women to believe there are boogeymen around every corner — stressing the “men” part of that.

    It’s a difficult tightrope to walk — on one hand, men are castigated for not being involved enough in their children’s lives. On the other hand, when we are involved, we can expect to be treated like potential abusers. It’s a lose/lose scenario. Fortunately, the rewards of being an involved father far outweigh the idiots we run into.

  99. Kayt donovan July 12, 2014 at 4:34 am #

    As a police officer, I once encountered a similar (but distinctly different) situation. School had let out and kids were everywhere. A parent who was picking up her child (and I give her credit, though they live close by, he was quite obviously sick that day)- she witnessed a child screaming. The child was white and the first thing that caught her attention besides the peircing screams- was the adult black male who had the child by the wrist and was leading her to the car. The child was yelling “no!” And “I’m not going!” – the woman and her sick son were neither in shape or position to confront a possible child abduction, but she immediately dialed 911 and surreptitiously followed the vehicle and got us a plate number.

    I was first on scene, and actually located the vehicle while it was leaving the area of the school. The mother stopped her car at a distance, myself and backup pulled the mans car over and made contact. Long story short…

    It was his daughter. She was SUPPOSED to go home with friends after school for a birthday party, but when dad received a call at work about his daughters foul-mouth in class that day, he intercepted her after school and broke the news that she was grounded. What the mom had witnessed was simply a situation that didnt look good. In the moment, she felt that the child’s screams were warranted enough to call for help. In the end, the black father actually asked my permission- then walked to the woman’s car, explained the situation himself and THANKED her for her concern. And what she said to him? “Sir, it had nothing to do with the color or your skin, it was that I couldn’t tell if your daughter knew you or if you were just some random adult dragging her into an SUV.”

    My point is- in a situation like I described- I could not only understand, but even sort of justify someone stepping in hand getting involved. The kidnapping, rape and murder of Denise Amber Lee (my coworkers 21 year old daughter and mother of two) had just happened months before and everyone was on high alert.

    But why is this not common sense? In man event that ANY child looks deeply distressed, scared, or cries out, stepping in and making sure the situation is okay is fine. But rudely interrupting a biracial family out for a walk just sickens me. :-(

    (Cop, and free range parent to one three year old!)

  100. Margaret Robinson July 15, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    Does the cycle ever look like this to other people?

    Step 1: ban birth control
    Step 2: ban abortions
    Step 3: destroy support systems for families
    Step 4: act all concerned about adoption and interracial families

    Concern isn’t the same thing as caring, and it should be called out. Caring is getting to know your neighbors. Concern is wanting to appear on the evening news.

    I’m glad to see so many level headed responses here. Sometimes I find it difficult to speak in a way in which Miss Manners would approve.