Raising Successful Citizens of the World

When we add up the different types of diversity (religion, disability, sexual orientation, income, gender identity, primary language spoken, and others), we can see that our kids are growing up in a richly diverse world. It’s important we help them embrace and thrive in the midst of diversity!

A strong guiding set of core values is a gift every parent can pass on to their children. Through the stories you tell, the words you say, and the way you live, you are shaping your children’s moral compass. In doing so, you help them navigate a culture that is filled with people of many different shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds. You can go a step further by focusing on curiosity about others, openness to different perspectives, and appreciation of the vitality that comes from this diversity. Children who grow up with this foundation will be poised to succeed in a global society.

Tips for . . .

  • parents with children ages birth to 5
    • Read and tell your children stories about lots of different kinds of people and families.
    • Spend time with your child in places where you encounter lots of different people, even if it means you have to leave your own neighborhood to go to a different park or grocery store.
    • parents with children ages 6 to 9
    • Kids notice details, so rather than avoid talking about differences, make it routine and comfortable. For example, instead of using labels when you don’t know people’s names, use descriptions such as the boy in your class who uses a wheelchair, your teacher with lighter skin than the others, or our neighbor with two dads.
    • Attend cultural events and festivals in your community. If you don’t know of any, try asking a librarian or calling your local chamber of commerce.
    • Model respect by choosing your words and tone carefully when speaking about others. Avoid making overly negative judgments or generalizations, and be generous with sincere compliments.
    • parents with children ages 10 to 15
    • Encourage your children to invite their friends to share in some of your family’s traditions. Be sure their parents approve and are comfortable with the situation. If the offers are reciprocated, encourage your children to accept.
    • When you watch television, see a movie, or play a video game with your children, talk about the subtle messages about diversity. Do all the characters look, sound, or dress a certain way? Are there stereotypes that are reinforced or dispelled? What’s implied about the positive and negative aspects of certain characteristics?
    • parents with children ages 16 to 18
    • Encourage your teens to have “multi-cultural” experiences by visiting museums, cultural festivals or centers, congregations, or other places where people who share a common culture gather.
    • If your family takes vacations together, try turning one into a cultural “exchange.” If, for example, you live in a rural area, visit a city. If you live in an industrialized country and can afford international travel, go to a developing country. There are even some domestic and international travel opportunities that combine travel and service.
  • Create a “bias-free” zone in your home by not tolerating prejudiced comments or conversation.

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