“Mommy, what’s a Mexican?”
Lesson #12 in child rearing: Always make your child aware of their culture and create sensitivity in them towards the diversity of others.
Raised in a Latino household with sparse interaction with non-Latinos, it’s no wonder my child came face-to-face with what is commonly known as “culture shock.” I remember a few years back when Jane Elliot performed her “Blue-eyed” experiment, an attempt to teach cultural sensitivity. She did more than that–she opened the eyes of society to just how prevalent racism was, whether we cared to admit it or not. The crazy thing is that the children took the experiment way better than the adults.
I found myself struggling to describe to my son race and culture. Is my son too young to learn the specifics of his heritage? Or is it perfectly fine for him to be curious as to why he may be different from other kids in his class? Of course the latter is true and the first is a definite “No.” It’s never too young for a child to learn to take pride in what makes them special or unique. Addressing such issues teaches our children that there’s nothing wrong with them that needs to be “fixed,” rather that they are capable of leaving one world for another the minute they step out of the house and into a classroom.
The proverbial “Melting Pot” has definitely turned into a 6 course meal when it comes to just how widespread culture and race have become in our country. The importance of teaching our children sensitivity and diversity in their early years will make all the difference in the world when they come to the age where they may be faced with ignorance and prejudice. As a parent I want my child to be suited with the armor of compassion and knowledge to be able to stand tall and never be ashamed of his skin color.
The easiest and best way to teach our children about the differences in themselves and others is by first questioning and exploring our own beliefs. Do we have a mindset that may need to be upgraded? Do we recognize the thoughts that we have of others and are they based on truth or stereotypes? Remember that our children’s best teachers are ourselves.by