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Talking to Your Children About Race and Diversity
“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.” - Mahatma Gandhi
As parents and caregivers, we must have confidence in ourselves and in our children that we, and they, can handle tough topics and tough situations. Children are resilient, they are brave, curious, more adaptable and more able to extend their reach into the world then we, as parents are aware of. Children are never too young to learn about diversity. Don’t worry if you don’t know all the answers. You’re not expected to be an expert. Do your research, read a book, listen to a podcast, watch a documentary and make sure you’re well informed on the topic of racism before you start a conversation with your child about it. When you’re armed with knowledge, you’ll feel more confident having these discussions. These topics are difficult for a variety of reasons – understand this is a learning process, and that we all have something to learn. Here are a few tips on how to talk to your children about diversity:
Always communicate openly. It’s true that these conversations can be difficult, but children often notice and understand a lot more than you think.
Be proactive and help your children build a positive awareness of diversity.
Follow their lead. If they ask follow-up questions, they are showing you they are ready for more.
Conversations about race and diversity should be ongoing and not a one-time occurrence.
Talk about how together you can make things better. Topics can include being kind to all people of different backgrounds, as well as and listening to and understanding the experiences and feelings of others who are different.
Teach them about stereotypes and remind them that not all people in one group are the same.
Be a role model, set an example. Have a diverse network of friends, attend diverse community events, build a collection of inclusive books, movies and TV shows.
Teach your children empathy and fairness from an early age.
Travel, visit different countries, experience new foods. Travel experiences enable children to develop an open-mindedness to new ideas, different cultures, and lifestyles.
Remember that we all carry prejudice and biases. We acquire them through socialization, our upbringing, media and education.Recognize your biases and do your best to overcome them.
Reading books with your children that celebrate diversity is also a great way to start a conversation. Click here for our suggestion.