Global Awareness and Appreciation of Diversity

Two Developmental Assets that help young people succeed relate directly to their global awareness and appreciation of diversity: Equality and social justice, and cultural competence. When you help your children develop their skills in these areas, you also enrich your whole family as you learn about other cultures together and take on service projects.

Communications technology has made it possible to stay on top of breaking news and up-to-the-minute information from almost anywhere in the world. As a parent, you can use available technology to help your children develop empathy, compassion, and commitment to equality and social justice by keeping up with current events together. With reliable, current information, you can also help break down racial, religious, ethnic, and cultural barriers in ways that previous generations of parents could not.

Here are some ways to get started:

Tips for . . .

  • all parents
    • Environmental issues can be great teaching opportunities. From being intentional about family recycling habits to participating in neighborhood clean-up projects, kids of all ages can play their part in showing respect for our world.
    • Visit the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Web site for parenting information on a number of topics, including diversity awareness and cross-cultural tolerance.
    • Service projects that the whole family can do together teach planning skills (What do we do?), empathy (Who needs this and why?), teamwork, and empowerment (reflect on how the completed project made you feel).
    • parents with children ages birth to 5
    • When your kids complain, “That’s not fair!” ask, “What can we do to make things more fair?” Talk about how the terms “fair” and “equal” don’t usually mean “exactly the same.”
    • Watch TV shows or play games together that have messages about different cultures and countries. Talk about them afterwards.
    • Talk with children about how people live in different types of homes, have different skin colors, types of jobs, family configurations, and so on. Keep books and toys on hand that reflect this diversity, making “differences” familiar.
    • parents with children ages 6 to 9
    • Help your child develop a deeply rooted sense of identity so that she or he is confident and feels a sense of self-worth. Celebrate important cultural history dates, rituals, and traditions in your family, and talk about their importance.
    • Model respect for others, including those whom you might envy or feel sorry for. Remember (and stress to your children) that you can never know exactly what it feels like to live someone else’s life, but you can treat that person the way you want to be treated.
    • If possible, venture outside your own community to experience how other people live. This might mean having lunch in a neighboring town, taking a road trip to a different geographic area, or even traveling or living internationally. Whatever your means, make it a point to show your children that there are lots of different ways of living in the world.
    • parents with children ages 10 to 15
    • Encourage your children to explore the world through books, the Internet, travel opportunities, and cross-cultural experiences with friends. Help them seek out the resources they need to do this.
    • Encourage your teen to become involved in activities that expose them to different types of people, lifestyles, languages, music, food, and art. Often such activities are offered as service projects through schools, recreation centers and park programs, libraries, museums, and cultural centers.
    • Learning a language early is often the gateway to enjoying different cultures. Encourage your children to study a second language through their school, community education programs, and/or online (see
    • parents with children ages 16 to 18
    • As a family, watch national news programs, listen to public radio broadcasts, read newspapers and news magazines, and discuss what you learn.
    • Support short-term opportunities for kids to travel around the country or overseas with their school or faith community groups. From fund-raising to chaperoning, your support makes a difference.
  • Identify people (past or present) who have worked for social justice. Discuss their impact on their community or the world.

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