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“It’s not in our sameness that we find ourselves, but in our differences”

FamilyHands

Welcome Parents:

I am so glad that you stopped by today. Diversity is an important issue, especially in our world today.

We are fortunate today to have so many sites and so much information available to help us learn how to be better parents! Raising kids is a hard, full-time job!

I am here to help support you in the following ways:

1. Help you to become aware of the diversity in your life.
2. Suggest ways that you can include more diversity in your life.
3. Discuss ways in which you can help your children become more diverse

What does all this mean for you?

1. You and your children will come to know others of different cultures
2. You and your children will appreciate your own culture and heritage
3. You and your children will be open to new ways of thinking

Sign-up for the Newsletter. I promise not to overwhelm you, but send periodic notes to give you new ideas about including diversity in your life.

Show the KIDS page to your children. We will have activities on there for them, videos about the books, stories about each character in the books, and art pages for them to print and color. All the while, they will be learning about others!

Have a question or want to share something? Send me an e-mail by clicking the contact link below.

Something to share? Go to my Blog page and share with us! We love to hear from you and sharing our ideas with each other is a great way to open our hearts and minds to others.

 

Articles Featuring Susan Von Tobel Parents may enjoy

CONVERSATION OF THE WEEK XLIX: Diversity From a child’s perspective

Parents and Teachers Play Role in Race Relations.

 

TOP 10 WAYS TO EMBRACE DIVERSITY

NUMBER ONE: Be a role model in accepting differences in others

Well, this sounds easy enough. How do we implement this?
The first way, is to go to your public library. Check out as many books as you can about other cultures. Ask the librarian to help you find books about children of various cultures. Examine how these children grow up. What is their family life like? What are their schools like? What about their cities, communities, and friends? This is a great way to begin to introduce kids to other cultures.
Another important way is to incorporate many “different” people in your life. They can be of a different faith, culture, or community. Talk about these differences and discuss what you like or enjoy about the differences.

NUMBER TWO:  Be accepting of differences between you and your child.

You might be saying “WHA-AT?”  This concept can definitely be a challenge at times, as we socialize our children to behave in certain ways, as well as respecting them as individual people.  A simple idea I had when my daughter was young, was to let her choose her own clothes, and put together creative outfits. At times, it might not have fit with what I would have done, but it was a form of expression for her. She was learning about her own style and defining what she liked and didn’t like. My daughter would say, “You always like things to match!”  She was right.  I did! I realized, clothes don’t HAVE to match. It became fun to see what she would do with her outfits. It gave me some ideas for myself! In these small ways, we begin to allow for differences, and we are teaching our children that we respect differences in them, and that it is okay.

NUMBER THREE:  Point out to children how they are different from you, their siblings, their friends, and honor these differences. You are helping them to learn about themselves as separate people.

Using daily life to point out differences, as in the clothes example above, is a great way to learn about differences. In our family I would point out differences between us in our choices of food. For example, I would say “I see you like pickles on your tuna sandwich, and I like lettuce.”  Also pointing out similar characteristics in each of you, gives them a sense that some things are the same, some are different. Telling a child you like a certain behavior or idea that is different from yours, goes a long way in helping them to appreciate differences in others.

NUMBER FOUR:  When children are surprised by differences in others, focus on building empathy by helping them to understand the feelings of the other person.

We have all had, I am sure, experiences with our children when they see someone of a different culture, or someone who is disabled and in a wheelchair, for example. It catches us off guard when in a loud voice our child says, “What’s wrong with that person, Mommy?”

We don’t want to embarrass the person and we try to explain a situation for which we don’t have an answer. I know how hard that can be.   You might try saying,  “I am not sure what has happened to that person, but it looks like she can’t walk or has trouble walking, so she has a wheelchair to help her get around.” Then point out the difference by saying, “She uses a wheelchair, and you use your legs.”  As the child gets older, you can talk about how they would feel in that situation.   Expand their idea of differences as your child grows and asks more questions.

NUMBER FIVE:  Read books to your children about different cultures, religions, and diversity in families.

Young children, especially, love to go to the library and check out books. If you have friends who are of a different culture, or a different faith, you might consider checking out books about their culture or faith. This expands their views, and ours, of how different faiths all worship God, mostly.  It can give them further insight into how different cultures live and what traditions their family follows.  It can be fun to learn about differences in other families. Perhaps one time you could have a different culture night at home and celebrate other cultures.

It can be difficult for families of diversity, at times, to incorporate combined traditions, but this is a great way to help children see that it is possible to respect each others traditions and rituals.

NUMBER SIX: Attend various cultural events.

Celebrate a religious holiday with a friend and their family, or have them over and have your children help you prepare some traditional foods for their religion or culture. Look at the list of multi-cultural books I have above on this page and read some of these books to your children. Explore how their life is different, but worthy of our respect.

NUMBER SEVEN:   Encourage friendships with children of different races, faiths, and beliefs. Learn about these other children and families by reading about their faith, culture, and beliefs.

This sounds like a lot of work and perhaps it is. It is well worth your time and effort to visit the library and to include diversity into your family. Perhaps one night a month your family chooses a culture to emulate.  Bring in food and decorations that are common to the culture, read a book, or talk about how you are alike and how you might be different from this culture.  This helps your children in huge ways. Not only does it expand their views of another culture but it can reduce fear of differences and of people who might be different, and can go a long way in helping your children improve their relationships with others.

NUMBER EIGHT: Ask your children what they think and how they feel about a topic you are  discussing, to understand their views of the world and others.

One of the hardest things I have had to work on over the years with my daughter is to listen. I want to jump in and “teach” her and give her the benefit of my years of experience. I want to save her from any heartache, if possible. I have realized, though, that, like me when I was a child, all that valuable (to me) information gets tuned out. We learn by experience. So, our children will learn more from watching us, than taking in what we say.

When children see someone who is “different,” they usually point it out to us. A good initial response could be, “What do you notice that is different?  “How do you feel when you see that person?”  Help your child to have empathy if needed, and to understand different religions, cultures, races.”  It is important to keep your own feelings impartial, teaching your child that there is nothing unusual about differences between us, that underneath, we are all pretty much alike.

NUMBER NINE:  Help to validate their experiences and their feelings to develop a strong sense of  self in the world.

This is similar to Number Eight.  Any time a child expresses their own idea about their view of the world, if fairly accurate, be sure to validate their experience so they grow up trusting their own judgements about the world. This helps them build self-esteem and self confidence.

NUMBER TEN: Help children to  know and understand different and conflicting needs and feelings within themselves.  Self-acceptance leads to acceptance of others.

Identifying the conflicting thoughts and feelings inside us is a very important task for children to learn so they can develop wholeness and acceptance. Can we I hold onto ourselves and still accept others as different? The underlying fear that we often feel when we see others who are different, stems from our past, where those of another clan were dangerous. We had to fight them for food or water or land. Today, many countries still fight over land, religion, and power. Learning to accept others at the most basic level, is the beginning of  a world that can possibly live in peace.

 

OTHER CHILDREN’S BOOKS ON DIVERSITY YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

http://www.patriciapolacco.com

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Books-About-Diversity/lm/R215QSFM12F1WB/ref=cm_lmt_fvlm_f_1_rlrsrs0

 

 

PRAGMATIC MOM.COM

This is a wonderful, educational blog that has many excellent recommendations. One, is this link below, which lists 40 multicultural books for children.  This is a very comprehensive list and breaks them down by category. This is a good beginning to including more diversity into your family.

http://www.pragmaticmom.com/multicultural-books-for-children/

GARY REESE, Ph.D.    

Information and insights into trauma and the process of healing through meditation and awareness. Dr. Reece offers a wealth of knowledge that we can apply to all areas of our lives.

 http://garyreecephd.com/welcome-to-my-mythic-garden/#comment-6