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15 Responses to How Does Your Family Explain Differences and Approach Diversity?

  1. Dionna  

    We do not ordinarily find ourselves in a diverse environment, either, so I’ve really tried to get books/DVDs/etc. that show Kieran different cultures, etc. We’ve also explored different homeschooling groups in an effort to expand our community!

    • Gretchen  

      I’ve been focusing on this at the library too. I hope that as Jemma and Max grow up we’ll be able to incorporate some travel – both near and far – to further explore and expand our communities. The Pacific Northwest only offers so much!

  2. Michelle

    This is a good insight about talking to your kids about race when they are very young. Ignoring it isn’t the answer. http://thirtythreadbaremercies.wordpress.com/tag/nurtureshock-new-thinking-about-children/

  3. Lauren  

    I try to be quite intentional about talking over differences and diversity. Here’s my post on talking about race with (white) kids if you’re interested in some further reading about my whys and hows: http://www.hobomama.com/2012/01/talking-about-race-with-white-kids.html

    Basically, through my research and my own experience, I’ve discovered that children really cannot be raised “colorblind” (and shouldn’t be) — and that applies to other differences besides race. Secondly, people who are in a majority position tend to think they “don’t have to” think about the minority experience or their effect on people’s wellbeing on a personal or systemic level, and that bums me out.

    It can be hard to keep thinking of ways to talk about differences. Fortunately, kids like to point them out a lot, so there are plenty of opportunities. 🙂 One thing I try to do is remind my child of people we know personally who have whatever trait is being discussed — it humanizes something abstract and makes it less of an us vs. them sort of thing, since these people we know are also “us.”

    I was raised quite conservatively, so it’s true that what I tell my children now about certain differences (mostly related to sexuality) is not how I was raised. But I do believe what I say now. When I do have reservations about somebody’s choices (like, if I’m explaining how some people are criminals or whatever), then I’m just honest about what I think about that, too, without trying to be virulent against the people themselves.

  4. sustainablemum

    Your post has made me think. Think about the fact that I have given this little thought and why that is. I have never seen anyone as ‘different’ and was always amazed as a young child when I heard people mention others differences. I had not noticed them and was surprised when others had. They were the same as me as far as I was concerned. I hope that I am able to nourish this in my own children, as my parents so beautifully did for me.

  5. kadiera  

    We live in a very diverse area – the school where my son will attend kindergarten this fall actually doesn’t have a majority race or ethnicity; the small city we live in has something like 50 different racial and ethnic groups living within its boundaries.

    Still…we specifically say things about it. We talk about race and skin tone in the same way we talk about disabilities and family structure and other differences – that we’re all different, and that’s ok.

    “Color Blindness” isn’t something we strive for here – each of us experiences the world differently because of our differences, and ignoring those differences means that we ignore things that are important to others.

    • Gretchen  

      I love your statement, “We’re all different, and that’s ok”. In furthering this discussion, I was recently chatting with a friend and we came to the conclusion that the word “unique” is a both beautiful and appropriate term when talking about differences as it highlights things in a very positive light. Most everyone appreciates being unique as it denotes that your special.

  6. jaqbuncad

    Actually, one of the things you can also do as a start? Is to own your own whiteness. It’s really obvious that when you say “diversity” you mean “people of color” (see: references to color blindness) and getting comfortable with the language is a huge step in the process. Talking about your whiteness makes it visible; not talking about it makes y’all “normal” and other people “different” (or “diverse”). Kids pick up on that real fast.

    • Gretchen  

      I appreciate your feedback and am truly thankful you jumped into the dialogue. I had a chance to read your full response in regard to this post on your blog and it gave me a lot to think about and further reflect on.

      By “diversity” I was trying to define ALL differences whether skin color, language, job, religion, etc. Although, I agree that skin color, white or otherwise, is usually one of the first things we see and address since it is most obvious.

      • jaqbuncad

        I feel like starting where you’re at is as good a place as any for all of those other markers, too. Of the privileges we have as a family – being able to pass for straight, being US citizens, having a roof over our heads, having two college-educated parents, being able-bodied, to name a few – all of those are things we can and do talk to our kids about too. Our congregation is very active in the fight for marriage equality and immigrant justice, so those are all great conversational points we can use to talk to our kids to name those pieces of us that have greater social value. We live in an area that is very low-income and there are many homeless folk who panhandle, and so we talk about what economic justice is and what food justice is and how lucky we are to have a roof over our heads and regular meals in our bellies.

        For me, it’s all about naming things for what they are, and being able to speak to them – like someone said upthread, we’re all different, and that’s okay; but the world we live in does not always agree, and so they’ll need to learn how to stand strong against those people who would devalue them for who they are.

  7. Emili Butrin

    Difference was never really addressed with me as a child – my parents took more of the “color blind” approach, if you will. I am quite intentional now about talking openly with my children concerning difference in race, religion, etc. That difference is good, beautiful, something to discuss and embrace.

    Thank you for this article.

  8. Charlene  

    I think it’s very important to teach your children that there are many differences in people from an early age. Teach them that even though we may have different beliefs, underneath were all the same. We have the same feelings about our families, our children. We need to learn to love one another instead of killing each other.

  9. A

    I hear some people talk to children about disability with a lot of “but they’re great in other ways to make up for what they can’t do! They’re just as good as you are!” From my perspective, as a parent of a child with a disability: Skip this. Kids read the “deficiency” subtext in it. State the facts when they’re relevant–some people have trouble walking, some people can’t see or hear, some people’s brains work differently–and yes, those things can be challenging for those people, and no, you shouldn’t be a jerk to them.