Raising Multi-Cultural Children

Not matter what box you check for yourself or your child; you are raising a multi-cultural child.  In my home this is particularly true because my husband and I come from different cultural backgrounds and have both been exposed to many different cultures that influence our home life.  We each speak more than 1 language, we eat a variety of foods from different cultures, we listen to a variety of music, and we attend events that are representative of our varying cultural perspectives. My husband and I should not be the exception in how we expose our child to the world. You cannot escape the fact that the U.S. is a diverse place and in order to live you need to be aware of and comfortable with difference.

Statistics show that by 2020 the majority of the U.S. will no longer be Caucasian.  I teach in two fields that use the demographic information of the country and I use this information in my courses often.  I think we have already arrived at a society in which the people with “brown faces” have outnumbered the people with “white faces.”  Being aware of and able to work side-by-side with and live with people of a variety of cultures is no longer optional.  I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting every state in the union, so I’m sure there are some places where you can go and still have a homogeneous experience. But if you want your child to be mobile, have options, be successful, and not be isolated then you need to be raising a multi-cultural child.

K-12 schools are more diverse (as are the snacks & lunches kids bring with them); diverse school lead to diverse college campuses; which leads to a diverse work-force  – at least 50% of current jobs ask if you are bi-lingual (usually this is code for Spanish, but knowing another language other than English is helpful).

So…along with reciting the ABCs, counting, teaching hand-washing, stranger-danger, and ALL of those other big & small lessons we teach…we should be exposing our children as often as possible to other cultures. And not just in passing or as a tourist attraction type of thing – as a fact of our daily lives.  Role model acceptance and awareness.

  1. Invite a family from your child’s class over for a play-date, lunch, or dinner
  2. buy a book or watch a video/movie that introduces a new culture
  3. if you watch Nick, Jr. or Sprout talk about the different characters and their value
  4. learn a song or poem in a different language (together) and then look up something about that culture to discuss
  5. cook a meal from a different culture together
  6. if funds allow – travel to a place where you can experience a different culture first-hand

Here’s a resource or two to help:

Teaching Your Child Tolerance

From Scholastic

More4Kids

Teaching Tolerance

Diversity is not scary it is beautiful and it is our reality!

P.S. In my world multiculturalism and diversity goes beyond race and ethnicity, but I know that for many people exploring different racial groups and ethnicity is a start. But int he true sense of diversity we include ability, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

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Ponytails

A tentative semi-quiet voice asks “Mommy? Ponytails?”

Huh? Did my son just ask me to put his hair in a ponytail?

“What did you say pumpkin?”

Taking his almost non-existent low afro hair in each hand and pulling outward he repeats himself louder and more assertively “Mommy. Ponytails!”

“O.K. honey.”

We finish drying off from bath and putting on lotion. Daddy comes in to read a story and I put some bobby pins in his hair and say “Here baby boy. Ponytails.”

He smiles broadly.

Daddy rolls his eyes and sucks his teeth.

If my baby boy wants ponytails then I’m gonna give him ponytails, even if he doesn’t have enough hair to do so.

Damn those cute little girls in his class who get their hair put in ponytails by the teachers! It’s special individual time with a teacher and now my son wants that too.

I’m taking barrettes to day care tomorrow so they can give him ponytails too!

Fighting for Title IX with Legal Advocacy

This is an important, historical and ongoing issue!

AAUW Dialog

This week, as we celebrate Title IX’s 40th birthday and the advances the law has inspired for gender equity, it’s worth remembering AAUW’s year-round efforts to support women who have challenged sex discrimination in education. AAUW’s Legal Advocacy Fund has been instrumental in the success of many gender discrimination cases — in education and in the workplace — during its 31-year history. LAF’s case-support program provides financial and organizational backing for a select number of lawsuits that have the potential to set significant precedents for gender equity. The funds to do this come directly from the generous contributions of AAUW members. Other LAF initiatives include community and campus outreach programs, our Online Resource Library with downloadable advocacy tools, a Legal Referral Network, and research reports.

One case in which LAF played a major role is Mansourian v. Regents of the University of California. LAF first took…

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A note to men about supporting empowered women

It is in the best interest of our men folk to support women who are on the path to empowerment. I’m writing to my friends in heterosexual relationships because studies show that same-sex relationships have greater gender-role equality then in opposite-sex relationships….go figure! Anyway…Thus far, women are the only human beings who have the ability to keep the population going (we bear children).  Despite more dads staying home and/or helping out with the care for children and households, women still are the primary caregivers of children, elderly parents and the primary caretakers of the family household.  Women should be supported in this work and in the things that make their hearts and minds happy!

It is a medical and psychological fact that individuals who are well mentally and emotionally are well physically. Being well can translate into being more available to our families and especially our partners.  Part of being well may include being able to go back to school to earn a degree, having a night out with friends, having help in cleaning the house or disciplining the children. 

So here’s a note to our male partners on how to help us be well and empowered:

  1. Listen to us when we are saying what we need. Don’t get defensive, just listen and state what you can dot o help.
  2. Don’t always wait for us to ask for help, you’re grown – look around and find something helpful to do (clean the bathroom, wash the dishes, do a load of laundry, cook dinner). Taking initiative is the key.
  3. Don’t think that just because we’ve always done ________ (fill-in-the-blank with a task) that we’re always going to want to do it. As both lives change and households change what we want and can do also changes. Flexibility is the key.
  4. Contrary to how we operate or what you think, we are not a super woman – we need rest and care also. Being realistic is the key.

GUYS – helping us out makes us happier, helps us to relieve stress, and make us more available for you.

O.K. ladies so our task on the path to empowerment and overall well-being means that we need to:

1. Make a commitment to what you want to do or change (go to school, lose weight, etc.). Think about yourself and make a commitment to care for you! Self-care is key.

2. Talk to our partners about our needs (in clear language without anger or whining). Good communication is key.

3. Take charge of our own lives and get what we need – hire a house cleaner or a babysitter, enroll in school, plan a get-away… Being assertive is key.

4. Don’t be a superwoman – rest, take care of yourself, ask for help and/or just STOP! Being realistic is key.

 My expertise:  I’m a social worker so I know a little bit about well-being and mental health. I’m a wife and mommy who works full-time outside and inside of my home.  I am a recovering superwoman who has tried doing it all and pleasing everyone – it doesn’t work! But it doesn’t take an expert to know what I’ve written is true. The hard part is being honest about your situation and what you want & need; being willing to do something to engage in self-care; and most importantly – sticking to your plan!

WOMEN be assertive and take charge of what you want and need.  Don’t wait for it to come to you or for someone else to provide it for you! 

 

OUR SON DRESSES AND EATS BETTER THAN WE DO: A brief rant

I’m sure that the title of this post is not breaking news to any parent.  It just happened to hit me yesterday that we take better care of our son than we do ourselves. In an earlier post about our Miracle Boy and my mom I noted that he eats 3 meals + 3 snacks a day, he takes a 2 hour a nap and gets 10+ hours of sleep a night, he gets at least 1 hour of exercise outdoors, and gets to use both his right and left brain cells at school (puzzles, art projects, etc.). His life is balanced!

This week while folding laundry I realized that our son is all set for summer.  He has enough short + t-shirts sets to last him two weeks without having to do laundry, several hats, summer shoes and to add insult to injury we bought him beach toys! (and he has yet to visit the beach) and mommy has nothing – no shorts, no t-shirts, no sandals, and no beach toys! I’m wearing my fall clothes…thank goodness summer weather has only showed up a few times so far…but next week I’ll need summer clothes…

A week ago my husband asked “Are there any adult snacks in the house?” Translation – all the good food in the house belongs to our son, what are we going to eat? Miracle Boy loves fresh fruit (which we also eat but I dare not eat the last strawberry lest Miracle Boy not have enough) but he also eats things we’re not interested in – yogurt smoothie, apple sauce, goldfish, crackers, and the mandatory cheerios.

The above is true partly because my brain is stuck on our son. Every time I enter a store I think about what he needs and then I happen to remember that I need deodorant or my husband needs lotion, etc. So as a result Miracle Boy is well-dressed and well-fed and we are eating his left-overs and wearing last year’s fall clothing this summer!