Most of us want to raise our kids to have cultural sensitivity and to be free of prejudices. However, the reality is we live in a world where there is racism, bigotry, and discrimination. And we all have our own unconscious biases that can get passed along despite our best efforts.
The easiest way to help overcome these obstacles is to provide your children with a rounded view and multiple perspectives every time you can. With that in mind, here are 7 suggestions we hope will help you raise culturally sensitive kids:
- Spontaneously implement short-term random rules such as “Anyone under five feet is not allowed to eat ice-cream” or “Brown-eyed people can’t watch TV” so your kids understand how bigotry is arbitrary and that it is hurtful and confusing to those affected by it.
- Take your children to visit places of worship for other faiths and discuss the differences and similarities in the teachings and practices.
- Provide an alternative perspective to historical events. Schools often present a one-sided or watered-down view of history so find reading sources for your kids that gives a more complete view.
- Get to know a variety of families and people in your community. Ask them to include your family in celebrations or other cultural events so your children have a first-hand explanation of beliefs or practices, not assumptions, or hearsay.
- Don’t shield your child from upsetting news. I don’t recommend allowing them to actually watch the news, but talk to them about stories that are making headlines. Chances are, your kids will hear about these articles at school or from friends, and the perspective they are provided from their peers may not be ideal.
- Be aware of what you say. Even the most sensitive of us have made (or laughed at) the occasional off-color joke or accidentally let a hurtful stereotype slip when someone cuts us off in traffic. Our kids listen and imitate. Try to be mindful of what you say and do when your kids are around. If you do accidentally blurt something out, explain to your child that what you said was not sensitive and even if the people it was directed to can’t hear it, it’s still wrong.
- Consider hosting a foreign exchange student. It’s a phenomenal way for kids to learn about other cultures.
Cricket Media Mama believes strongly in diversity in every aspect of her life, but especially in chocolate. White, milk, dark, nutty, fruity … it’s all equally delicious.