As racist and xenophobic sentiments fill news headlines, many parents are wondering how to instill values of acceptance and cultural understanding in their children.
Akeelah Kuraishi ― who was born in England to a Pakistani father and Scottish mother ― put her mission into practice by creating Little Global Citizens, a subscription box meant to teach kids about different cultures and people around the world.“Young children don’t have societal preconceptions and I think sometimes we forget that,” she explained. “It’s very imperative to take a stand right now to impact the next generation and make sure they are open-minded, compassionate and aware.”
Start with books
While reading books that involve different cultures, parents should help their children empathize with the characters. They can ask questions like, “Oh, isn’t it interesting that this person lives with their grandparents or their aunties?” or “Wow, they have chickens at their home. Do you think it would be fun to have chickens? What would that be like?”
Expose children to characters from diverse backgrounds
Finding local places of worship can be a helpful route, as they often put on cultural festivals to teach the community about their traditions and allow people from diverse backgrounds to engage with each other. And although kids might be reluctant to try new things, it’s all about getting over that initial hurdle.
Go to different restaurants
“I think it’s very important to make sure you’re learning from a culture and not about a culture,” said Kuraishi. Going to different kinds of restaurants that are embedded in cultural communities gives kids the opportunity to taste new food, hear other languages and see what people from different cultures wear. Before visiting restaurants that serve cuisine from a less familiar culture, Kuraishi reads up on it with her sons. “My boys love to learn a few new words in that language and then try them out at the restaurant if we’re lucky enough to go to a restaurant where the staff is actually from the country of origin,” she explained. “People respond so well to it, too. Just dive into restaurants you wouldn’t normally go to.”
Educate yourself
If you don’t feel comfortable having these conversations as a parent, it’s important to educate yourself. “If you read the news right now, you see that our world needs a hefty dose of empathy, and it’s not really taught in schools,” Kuraishi explained. “It’s something we have to teach as families.”
—Source: Huffpost