How Does Your Family Explain Differences and Approach Diversity?

Welcome to the March 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Tough Conversations

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have spoken up about how they discuss complex topics with their children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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diversity quiltPointing out different colors – red, black, blue, yellow.

Talking about different people – grandma, postman, doctor, stranger.

Explaining about different cultures – Eskimos, Southerners, Europeans, Baptists.

These are the activities that fill my day and sometimes, many times, I wonder if I am doing a good enough job. How do you best teach your child to identify and appreciate differences without teaching them to judge based on those differences?

Last year, my family and I went out to lunch with a dear friend who was born and raised in Kenya. He moved to the United States for college and was my husband’s roommate for a short while. He has since returned to work in Africa, building educational opportunities for young people in Ghana, and we were thrilled to catch him on a visit to our old stomping grounds. Our daughter, who was 13 months at the time, took to him immediately. She let him hold her, stared into his eyes, and listened intently to his accent.

When we parted, our friend commented that he was surprised she wasn’t scared of him. This baffled me, why would she be “scared” of him? And then he explained that he had met another little girl days before who had been quite wary around him – he was the first African American she had ever met, and, frankly, she didn’t know what to think of him and his outward differences.

His statement resonated with me. I wondered for days about at what age or what circumstance children begin to identify differences like skin color, accents, backgrounds, jobs, social statuses, religion and other extrinsic and intrinsic traits. I thought back onto my own childhood and when I became aware of each of these, why, and how it shaped my beliefs and awareness of others. As much as I wish differences didn’t separate us, I’ve become more aware that it is unavoidable. I’ve realized it is impossible to ensure color blindness or remove all opportunities for judgment – it’s part of being human. It’s something we must evaluate within ourselves and assist our children in processing as they explore these topics.

It isn’t often my family and I find ourselves in a diverse community. We have a very small world throughout our weekly routine. Regardless, I’m left wondering how to better open up the world and all of its differences to my daughter. How do I best introduce her to people who are different from our family? And by placing an emphasis on this, am I further separating “us” and “them”?

I’m curious how you and your family have approached diversity:

  • Do you openly discuss different races, cultures, or social statuses?
  • Do you bring it up or do you allow your child to lead?
  • Do you purposefully surround yourselves with families who are different?
  • How does this impact your family’s personal values – for example, do you associate with others whose beliefs (religious, social, political, etc.) are different from yours?

I hope to hear from you as I am still learning and growing in this avenue of parenthood! Thank you for sharing your two cents.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon March 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • A Difficult Conversation — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is keeping her mouth shut about a difficult topic.
  • Discussing Sexuality and Objectification With Your Child — At Authentic Parenting, Laura is puzzled at how to discuss sexuality and objectification with her 4-year-old.
  • Tough Conversations — Kadiera at Our Little Acorn knows there are difficult topics to work through with her children in the future, but right now, every conversation is a challenge with a nonverbal child.
  • Real Talk — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama explains why there are no conversation topics that are off limits with her daughter, and how she ensures that tough conversations are approached in a developmentally appropriate manner.
  • From blow jobs to boob jobs and lots of sex inbetweenMrs Green talks candidly about boob jobs and blow jobs…
  • When Together Doesn’t Work — Ashley at Domestic Chaos discusses the various conversations her family has had in the early stages of separation.
  • Talking To Children About Death — Luschka at Diary of a First Child is currently dealing with the terminal illness of her mother. In this post she shares how she’s explained it to her toddler, and some of the things she’s learned along the way.
  • Teaching 9-1-1 To Kids — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling talks about the importance of using practical, age-appropriate emergency scenarios as a springboard for 9-1-1 conversations.
  • Preschool Peer PressureLactating Girl struggles to explain to her preschooler why friends sometimes aren’t so friendly.
  • Frank Talk — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis unpacks a few conversations about sexuality that she’s had with her 2-year-old daughter, and her motivation for having so many frank discussions.
  • When simple becomes tough — A natural mum manages oppositional defiance in a toddler at Ursula Ciller’s Blog.
  • How Babies are Born: a conversation with my daughter — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger tries to expand her daughter’s horizons while treading lightly through the waters of pre-K social order.
  • Difficult Questions & Lies: 4 Reasons to Tell The Truth — Ariadne of Positive Parenting Connection shares the potential impact that telling lies instead of taking the time to answer difficult questions can have on the parent-child relationship.
  • Parenting Challenges–when someone dies — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about talking to her child about death and the cultural challenges involved in living in a predominantly Catholic nation.
  • Daddy Died — Breaking the news to your children that their father passed away is tough. Erica at ChildOrganics shares her story.
  • Opennesssustainablemum prepares herself for the day when she has to tell her children that a close relative has died.
  • Embracing Individuality — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy addressed a difficult question in public with directness and honesty.
  • Making the scary or different okay — Although she tries to listen more than she talks about tough topics, Jessica Claire of Crunchy-Chewy Mama also values discussing them with her children to soften the blow they might cause when they hit closer to home.
  • Talking to My Child About Going Gluten Free — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama concluded that her family would benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet, she came up with a plan to persuade her gluten-loving son to find peace with the change. This is how they turned the transition to a gluten-free lifestyle into an adventure rather than a hardship.
  • How Does Your Family Explain Differences and Approach Diversity? — How do you and your family approach diversity? Gretchen of That Mama Gretchen shares her thoughts at Natural Parents Network and would like to hear from readers.
  • Discussing Difficult Topics with Kids: What’s Worked for Me — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares parenting practices that enabled discussions of difficult topics with her (now-adult) children to be positive experiences.
  • Tough Conversations — Get some pointers from Jorje of Momma Jorje on important factors to keep in mind when broaching tough topics with kids.
  • Protect your kids from sneaky people — Lauren at Hobo Mama has cautioned her son against trusting people who’d want to hurt him — and hopes the lessons have sunk in.
  • Mommy, What Does the Bible Say? — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work works through how to answer a question from her 4-year-old that doesn’t have a simple answer.
  • When All You Want for Them is Love: Adoption, Abandonment, and Honoring the Truth — Melissa at White Noise talks about balancing truth and love when telling her son his adoption story.

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Photo Credit: OregonDOT

About The Author: Gretchen

ThatMamaG My NPN Posts

I am a WAHM mama of two from the Pacific Northwest. I began my career in corporate sales and marketing and am now a freelance writer exploring the joys of attachment parenting while trying to find a reason to wear something other than yoga pants on a daily basis :)

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