The Difference Is Me — Living as the Rainbow Generation

Welcome to the July 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning About Diversity

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 shared how they teach their children to embrace and respect the variety of people and cultures that surround us. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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For the most part in our lives, we are the odd ones out. We live on a small island with a dominantly Christian, school-going, omnivorous population. We are vegans who don’t go to school or church. For my kids, Mama is self-employed massage therapist and business entrepreneur, Papa is a Rasta-man studying for a PhD in organic agriculture. Our families are black and white and we, the rainbow generation, are the blended shades of brown. My kids are learning from an early age that they are just a bit different.

Walking the road less traveled has been a full time occupation of mine since I can remember and it is not surprising that I raise my children with ideas and choices that are less than mainstream. However, while I have had a joyful 36 years to grow into my choices (and am continually growing), my little people, aged 3 and 5, are still forming their world views and I know that sometimes being the odd ones out can be challenging.

For instance my kids were born in Dominica and have lived here all their little lives. But they have my English accent and a few times people have referred to them as tourists or ask what part of England they are from? My daughter was quite indignant recently when this happened at a local beach. ‘I’m from Dominica’ she protested with tears in her eyes. ‘Why do they think I’m not?’

Natural Parents Network: The Difference Is Me — Living as the Rainbow Generation

The Nature Isle kids play a ‘fishing’ game on a walk to the river

A few weeks ago Keeyah came home telling me bible stories. I encourage both children to know about different world-views and she has been to church with my Grandparents on several occasions. However I was somewhat irritated that, by the way she was relating them back to me, the stories had been presented to her as undisputed gospel fact (I should hardly be surprised as most believers of anything believe their truth is THE truth, from Godly figure to politician and favourite pop-star). Just a couple of days ago she was told by the same friends that she would go to hell because she attended carnival! So now there are many conversations about the big questions about God, life and death and I realise that this issue is one we have to discuss and embrace right now. It caused me to delve much deeper into my own spiritual beliefs and practices and learn greater acceptance of others. I downloaded the audio book of Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion because, while I do not consider myself as a secular parent, I resonate with free-thinking ideology much more than religious belief. Listening to this audiobook along with some audios of Abraham-Hicks and Michael Beckwith have helped me walk my own spiritual path with more balance and I hope I can impart this to my children so they feel more empowered on this journey where they may always be in the minority.

As for being vegan, my kids vacillate between saying ‘yuck, I’ll never eat fish, that is cruel and disgusting’ to ‘I’m going to try that when I’m older’. If it is the former statement, then I always ask them to be respectful of other people’s food choices just as we would wish them to be respectful of ours (the Golden Rule features prominently in our house). In response to their curiosity I invite them to make their own food choices as they grow, even though for now they will eat what their parents believe is best for them. It’s a subject that interests them a lot and on a weekly basis one of the children will ask me about what certain people or animals eat and so there is always a chance to talk about different dietary choices from around the world!

Natural Parents Network: The Difference Is Me — Living as the Rainbow Generation

Wearing some of Mama’s clothes, they are ready to go cherry picking!

With schooling my children are very firm in their identity and desire to be home-schoolers even amongst their friends who do go to school and when faced by relatives who think they should be in school! I bought them the book I Am Learning All the Time which has a very balanced approach to the choices made by parents for school or home-school and they seem to have embraced that accepting attitude. We also benefit from having a small but fab home-schooling group, and we are a United Nations of parents hailing from America, Australia, Canada, Dominica, England, France, Germany and Mexico. Within a relatively homogenous population I am glad we have that diverse little group to draw from. Having others on a similar path makes my kids feel less ‘weird’.

But because we live on such a small island, we do not encounter the broader diversity that we would in larger, more developed nations. I do sometimes lament that my children are missing out on all the wonderful things a multi-national culture can bring (I lived 8 years in London, one of the most diverse cities in the world) With my new business, Kids Caribbean, we plan to travel more and even at home we can learn more about our world every day. As we read books we talk about the characters and discuss why they look and act differently. Even as siblings they both recognise that they already have distinctive gifts, talents and preferences and we learn daily about how to be loving and respectful of these differences! And while we learn that everyone is so wonderfully unique, my children also love to sing the song by Snatam Kaur The Sun Shines On Everyone, and also talk about how we are all one.

Ultimately our desire is to live with the Onelove embracing attitude that knows that we don’t have to make another person wrong to substantiate our beliefs as ‘right’ and that we can learn to love everything and everyone unconditionally. It’s a never-ending journey that we take one child-sized step at a time.

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About the Author:
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Terri is Mama to 2 energetic and loving beings and strives each day to learn and practice the art of peaceful parenting. She blogs at Child of the Nature Isle, although a little infrequently these days as she is a temporary single parent and has been busy launching her new business – a family travel guide to the Caribbean. While ‘Kids Caribbean’ is growing it feels as though she is nurturing another child although she hopes this baby will support her before she gets old!

Photo Credits: Author

 

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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 July 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • A gift for my daugther — Amanda, a special education teacher for students with multiple exceptionalities, discusses at My Life in a Nutshell how she will enrich her daughter’s life by educating her the amazing gifts her students will bring to the world.
  • The Beauty in Our Differences — Meegs at A New Day writes about her discussions with her daughter about how accepting ourselves and those around us, with all our beautiful differences and similarities, makes the world a better place.
  • Accepting Acceptance and Tolerating Tolerance — Destany at They Are All of Me examines the origins of and reasons behind present day social conformity.
  • Differencessustainablemum discusses what she feels to be the important skills for embracing diversity in her family home.
  • Turning Japanese — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different shares how she teaches her kiddos about Japanese culture, and offers ideas about “semi immersion” language learning.
  • Celebrating Diversity at the International House Cottages — Mommy at Playing for Peace discovers the cultures of the world with her family at local cultural festivals
  • Learning About Diversity by Honoring Your Child’s Multiple Heritages — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of truly knowing your roots and heritage and how to help children honor their multiple heritages.
  • People. PEOPLE! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is trying to teach her children to use language that reflects respect for others, even when their language doesn’t seem to them to be disrespectful.
  • Call Me Clarice, I Don’t Care – A True Message in Diversity — Lisa at The Squishable Baby knows that learning to understand others produces empathetic children and empathetic families.
  • Diversity of Families — Family can be much more then a blood relation. Jana at Jananas on why friends are so important for her little family of three.
  • Diverse Thoughts Tamed by Mutual Respect — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work thinks that diversity is indispensable to our vitality, but that all of our many differences require a different sort of perspective, one led by compassion and mutual respect.
  • Just Shut Up! — At Old New Legacy, Becky gives a few poignant examples in her life when listening, communication and friendship have helped her become more accepting of diversity.
  • The World is our Oyster — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot is thankful for the experiences that an expat lifestyle will provide for herself as well as for her children.
  • Children’s black & white views (no pun intended … kind of) — Lauren at Hobo Mama wonders how to guide her kids past a childish me vs. them view of the world without shutting down useful conversation.
  • Raising White Kids in a Multicultural World — Leanna at All Done Monkey offers her two cents on how to raise white children to be self-confident, contributing members of a colorful world. Unity in diversity, anyone?
  • Ramadan Star and Moon Craft — Celebrate Ramadan with this star and moon craft from Stephanie at InCultureParent, made out of recycled materials, including your kid’s art!
  • Race Matters: Discussing History, Discrimination, and Prejudice with Children — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy discusses how her family deals with the discrimination against others and how she and her husband are raising children who are making a difference.
  • The Difference is Me – Living as the Rainbow Generation — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is used to being the odd-one-out, but walking an alternative path with children means digging deeper, answering lots of questions and opening to more love.
  • My daughter will only know same-sex marriage as normal — Doña at Nurtured Mama realizes that the recent Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage will change the way she talks to her daughter about her own past.
  • Montessori-Inspired Respect for Diversity — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her multicultural family and shares Montessori-inspired ideas for encouraging respect for diversity.
  • EveryDay Diversity — Ana at Panda & Ananaso makes diversity a part of everyday living, focusing on raising of compassionate and respectful child.
  • Diversity as Part of Life — Even though Laura at Authentic Parenting thought she had diversity covered, she found out that some things are hard to control.
  • Inequity and Privilege — Jona is unpacking questions raised by a summit addressing inequity in breastfeeding support at Life, Intertwined.
  • 3 Ways to Teach Young Children About Diversity — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama recognizes her family’s place of privilege and shares how she is teaching her little ones about diversity in their suburban community.
  • Teaching diversity: tales from public school — A former public high school teacher and current public school parent, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama values living in a diverse community.
  • 30 Ideas to Encourage Learning about Diversity While Traveling — Traveling with kids can bring any subject alive. Dionna at Code Name: Mama has come up with a variety of ways you can incorporate diversity education into your family travels (regardless of whether you homeschool). From couch surfing to transformative reading, celebrate diversity on your next trip!
  • Diversity, huh? — Jorje of Momma Jorje doesn’t do anything BIG to teach about diversity; it’s more about the little things.
  • Chosen and Loved — From Laura at Pug in the Kitchen: Color doesn’t matter. Ethnicity doesn’t matter. Love matters.
  • The One With The Bright Skin — Stefanie at Very Very Fine tries to recover from a graceless response to her son’s apparent prejudice.

12 Responses to The Difference Is Me — Living as the Rainbow Generation

  1. Lauren  

    The end of your post really made me smile. I love how you’re raising your children to embrace the differences and learn how unique we are. I can imagine how being the odd-one-out can be very isolating at times, but it sounds like you have a very grounded perspective.

  2. Dionna  

    If we could all be this balanced and tolerant, I think there would be a lot more love in this world :)

  3. Meegs

    You have a gorgeous family, and a great worldview!

  4. dona  

    Wow, 3 and 5 seems so early to tackle questions about religion! I have a two-year-old so I’d better get prepared. I’m going to check out the Parenting Beyond Belief book you mentioned. Thank you!

    • Terri  

      Yes I thought I had a few more years too! But living in such an overtly religious place definitely bought it to the forefront early. My kids are still a little confused by it all but we all learn more each day. The PBB book is fab…they also have a You Tube channel with 5 great introductory videos on the importance of raising ‘religiously literate’ kids and freethinking approaches http://www.youtube.com/user/PBBChannel/videos

  5. Momma Jorje  

    Great post! I especially enjoyed the pop star comparison. heheh

  6. Stephanie @ InCultureParent  

    Loved your post and I got interested in some of the resources you shared too. Thanks for the book rec for kids- it is definitely one I will share with my kids as we read many books about diversity but have yet to read one about kids who homeschool or unschool. I must say, even though as you say living on an island is small and has some disadvantages, it sounds a bit like paradise to me- love the first pic you posted!

    • Terri  

      It is definitely paradise most of the time. Just last week we were at the river for 5 hours surrounded by nothing but mountains and trees and my children and their friend started singing their own song about ‘this is paradise!’

      Hope you enjoy the homeschool book too – it’s not a rollercoaster adventure of a story but it really helped my kids see our choices as valid. At one point they kept saying ‘when we are older we will go to school’ I haven’t heard them say that since we read the book!

  7. Deb @ Living Montessori Now  

    Lovely post! It’s wonderful that you’re raising your children to be so open and accepting of both themselves and others.

  8. Destany Fenton

    I really love reading about peoples journeys who are so apart from my own. Living in Dominica sounds so fascinating and different, and yet you face many of the same issues when it comes to diversity.
    I really relate to what you said particularly on the score of religion. It is important to allow for acceptance and tolerance of others beliefs while we hold to our own. And I love that you put so much effort into how you approached the issue with your kids.
    Wonderful post!

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