08 Nov Part 2: Be Fair to its People
I’ve been trying to think of how to broach this topic and one of my favourite people of all time really sums it up so eloquently in a couple of sentences. What a beautiful way to look it and a great starting point for those wanting to teach our children to be compassionate, caring and respectful of all people. I almost feel like I don’t need to say anything else, but I will. As the first educators of our children, we the parents play an enormous part in the way our children view our world and the people in it. We are the ones that can teach our children to respect and value cultural diversity and definitely not fear it. But how? Here are some small ideas that may help teach your children to not only accept our differences but to embrace them.
This is really important. If you want your children to grow up with cross-cultural understanding, you need to lead the way. Your children are constantly picking up on your cues. Children tend to take adult behaviour as cues for what is socially acceptable or normal. Consider your own preconceived ideas and if you are displaying desirable behaviours. Make sure your actions speak as loud as your words, and that you are modelling behaviour that is respectful to others. Do you embrace difference? Do you comment when something is not culturally acceptable? Do you have friends from different cultural backgrounds or cultures? This is not about me trying to put judgement on you or catch you out. I am just encouraging you to consider what you may be modelling.
Personally, I don’t believe that we should be saying we are all the same. We are not, we are all different and that is what makes each of us special and unique. Children are naturally curious about people and their physical differences. They will ask questions that make us squirm. It is how we choose to answer these questions that will help them form their opinion on these differences. Every person is unique and every culture does have differences. Don’t be afraid in pointing out these differences as a positive thing. Encourage children to learn that differences are what make people special and interesting, not inferior. I believe ignoring these questions or shunning them sends the wrong message and may encourage little ones to see difference in a negative way.
Expose your Children to other Cultures
I was very lucky to grow up in a family, and community that saw importance in learning about our first people’s culture. When I was 11 I was lucky enough to go and stay in the aboriginal community of Indulkana, located in the far north of South Australia. What an amazing experience for a child. This was truly an eye opening experience into the amazing culture and ways of our aboriginal people. I believe this is what started my love of culture. I have always loved spending time learning from people from different cultures all over the world. As Mark Twain quotes “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. “
I understand that we can not all be lucky enough to afford the luxury of travel with little ones but you would be surprised what cultural delights exist in your own community. You can even expose your children to other cultures from the comfort of your own home. Visit a local Buddhist temple, sample food from other countries, encourage pen pals, read dreamtime stories, attend local cultural events, have cultural artefacts in your home. A great game my family loves is choosing a city from around the world, entering it into Google Earth and then cruising the streets from the comfort of our own lounge room. Your kids may only learn that there are lots of scooters in Italy, that people in Africa have darker skin or that the buildings in China have pointy roofs. However, this is a great place to learn that the world is much bigger than our own community. Above all, know that you can be a powerful role model for your children. By teaching your child to respect people both for their similarities and differences, your child will learn that they themselves are amazing and unique, and that they are surrounded by many other people who are also amazing and unique.
Feel free to share ways you inspire your children to embrace culture and diversity below. As always if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.