Diversity (n) : the condition of having, or being composed of, differing elements; the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.
I’m sure that some people hear that word and roll their eyes while thinking, “Here we go with this topic again.” Why does the word diversity make some folks uncomfortable? When you read the definition above, it doesn’t sound like a “bad word” or a topic that you wouldn’t discuss with your children. However, there are still many who do not have discussions about it with their children.
Now I cannot tell anyone how they should parent their children. However, if you believe that we need to be color blind or you say, “We don’t see color,” what are you really explaining to your kids? Is being “color blind” teaching kids about diversity? No, it’s actually disregarding diversity. We should celebrate the reality that we’re all different. Humans are comprised of lighter skin, white skin, brown skin, dark brown skin, and black skin. Some people have different hair, eyes, and may wear different style of clothes and eat different types of foods. As parents, we need to let our children know that these differences are what make us all unique.
Children are curious about diversity.
Small children don’t judge the other kids they’re playing with for how they look or how they dress. Children may ask you why their friend is a different color than them, but they’re asking out of curiosity. When that question is asked, though, parents tend to give the stock “We’re all different” answer and move on.
I have had the diversity discussion with many diverse groups of people. Some of them reason, “I don’t see color, and I tell my kids not to, either.” Others say, “I am teaching my kids about diversity all of the time.” Regardless of what our world may be like right now (or how we think it is), we should still discuss diversity.
Teaching children about diversity is not a hard thing to do. It’s also an IMPORTANT thing to do.
Here are a few simple things you can do to get the discussion going with your children:
- When your child asks a question about a person’s skin tone or culture, take time to answer them. Explain to them in simple terms why people are different colors or why some people wear certain clothing. Let your child know that you are glad they are asking questions.
- When events are going on in your area that celebrate other cultures, take your children to these events. Enjoy the food, dancing, language, and education about a different culture.
- Visit museums with your child. If you live in an area that’s not very diverse, try to take day trips to nearby cities and/or museums.
Make diversity fun to learn about. Celebrating others should not be a chore. When your child asks a question about a different race or culture that you can’t confidently answer, be honest. Let them know that you don’t know, but you will look it up and find out for them.