Google+ Authentic Parenting: Diversity as Part of Life

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Diversity as Part of Life

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.


The best way for kids to learn about diversity is to see diversity as a part of their everyday life. Kids accept what they see everyday and reject what they don't. That's a natural protection mechanism for humans. What we don't know might potentially be harmful.
Having diversity as a natural part of our lives is something I always strived to achieve, even when my daughter was still very small. But it is also something that is pretty hard to control.

I am very happy to be able to raise my daughter in a multicultural environment where most of her friends are of a different color. Interacting with people of different ethnicities is a normal part of our lives, and of hers.
But where my kids come into contact with all kinds of languages and nationalities, something is lacking. And now, at age 5, my daughter is starting to let me know.

Last week, we came back from Liberia to Belgium and in the airport, a couple walked ahead of us with their baby. The mom was white and the dad was black.
"Mama, look!" My daughter said: "That mama has a black baby... but she's white. That's not possible."
I pointed out that the daddy was black and the baby was right in between, so probably yes, this was this woman's biological baby.
It made it very clear to me that my daughter isn't used to seeing couples where the mom is white and the father black. She is used to seeing it the other way around, as many expats in Africa have an African wife. She knows how babies are made and that they grow in the mother's belly, but I'm guessing the whole fatherly input is still a bit obscure to her.

Another concept that seems odd to her is homosexuality. Whenever she sees a same sex couple on tv or when we're in Belgium, she points it out to me and wonders about that.
Again, there are no gay people in our lives lately, so she doesn't see this as part of her daily life (manly because homosexuality is still a crime in many African countries).

It frustrates me, because I would very much like my children growing up with acceptance instead of fear, but this is something that's not easily changed. You can't intentionally put people in your life just to serve as an example for your kids...

Is diversity something you actively strive to achieve in your environment? How do you achieve this?

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.



  1. What a provocative post! As expats we have the benefit of introducing other cultures but I guess we are really trading certain anomalies for others. But as you describe it it seems like your kids are genuinely curious which I believe is always a good thing, and the exposure that they get from traveling the world gives them a larger context to understand new situations.

    1. Very aptly put... Indeed, I do not think being an expat makes their world smaller, but indeed it may blindsight them on certain subjects and as parents, I think it's important to seek those out and bring them into the light.

  2. It's interesting that even when we think that we lead lives filled with diversity that there are still areas where little ones can easily highlight that there isn't. Innocent questions are a good starting point for conversations.

    Do you have any ideas about how to introduce her to those other areas? Maybe a book on the theme, or?

    1. That's a great suggestion. Indeed, reading books is something my daughter loves to do and it certainly has been a window for her. Also sometimes movies offer new ideas to her.

  3. I've been thinking about this a lot as well, because despite my (frequent) talks on subjects like this, Mikko will still pop out with questions or observations or denials, like, "Ohhhh…I get it …brown people have brown babies!" (this was said *loudly* in the store, near the targets of his observations) and, when visiting a friend with two moms, a just complete lack of acceptance of the fact. Like, it's standing there in front of him, and he just…can't…process it as truth. I think kids are very black & white in their thinking (as I wrote in my post today) and have to decide what's true and what's not, and then stick with that for the comfort and the ease in navigating their world. And all I can hope is that with repeated and persistent exposure to ideas that challenge what they've set in stone, that their minds will open as they develop. I think! I hope!

    1. I agree that kids tend to accept as true only what they see in their daily lives, no matter how often you repeat something. However, I do find that my daughter is pretty open minded when it comes to hot topics such as gay marriage.
      She'll say: hey: these two women are kissing and they have a baby... :pause: wait a minute, how did they make that baby. lol

  4. I have struggled with how to introduce more diversity into our lives so that it seems natural, rather than contrived. I think that is just *my* nervousness at stepping out of my element.

    1. lol totally with you there... it's pretty creepy to befriend people just for the sake of diversity

  5. I really like your point, and as Dionna also commented on, one only really being able to work with what you have - you certainly don't want to befriend someone only to use them as an example or to fill a sort of diversity quota. I think the best way, as you've done, is to nicely explain how apparent anomalies like biracial children or gay couples come about.

  6. This is something that I have been mulling over recently. I live in a small rural village, most of the people who live here were born here and will remain here all their lives, it is a narrow section of society. However I am coming to the conclusion that actually that does not matter as there are others ways of learning about and accepting diversity than immersing yourself.

    1. I agree... I would even say that immersion with the wrong attitude can give quite the opposite from acceptance of diversity

  7. The research also shows that despite just being exposed to racial and other differences, that kids are more likely to categorize people and segregate them UNLESS they are also be talked to and taught about race (from the book "NurtureShock," by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman). It's not enough to presume our kids get it because they see it, it needs to be a regular topic of discussion.

    1. yes, well, I thought that kinda goes without say...

  8. "It frustrates me, because I would very much like my children growing up with acceptance instead of fear, but this is something that's not easily changed. You can't intentionally put people in your life just to serve as an example for your kids..."

    I feel the same exact way! It's wonderful that you live in a multicultural community, but as you said, that is only one piece of the diversity pie. That's why I think it is so important to teach kindness and curiosity. I hope that those lessons translate for my children through all of the different kinds of diversity that they encounter throughout life.

  9. I just wrote a long comment, and I can't tell if it posted, but t quickly reiterate, I love this: "It frustrates me, because I would very much like my children growing up with acceptance instead of fear, but this is something that's not easily changed. You can't intentionally put people in your life just to serve as an example for your kids..."

    I feel the exact same way and can only hope that the kindness and curiosity I try to instill in my children will translate in helping them to embrace all of the different kinds of diversity that they encounter throughout life.

  10. I agree that children are comfortable with what they know, and the more they know about our multicultural world the better, but I have to believe that as your daughter (and my son too) is exposed to so many of the different cultures, races, families / couples, all with an attitude of acceptance and love from yourself, that she will be well equipped to face any 'new' deviations from her 'norm' in the future. I am so thankful we live in the times we do now, for my son to grow up with this attitude of acceptance - it was much more difficult for my parents all those years ago to get it right with me. Times are changing for the better in a lot of ways :)

    Featured you on the <a href="”>Tuesday Baby Link-Up</a>! :)



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