One of the reasons why my husband and I chose to live near a major metropolitan area is because it was important to both of us that our children be exposed to a diverse group of experiences and people. We have been very fortunate not only to find a group of friends who have very similar backgrounds, which made the area feel very quickly like home. Luckily, we’ve also gotten to know many people with a variety of backgrounds.
Our children have actually been instrumental in getting to know friends whose lives are different from our own. When my daughter gets off the bus in the afternoon, she is much more likely to tell me about her friends on the bus than she is to tell me about what she learned that day. In fact, she’s happy to tell me what she and her friends talked about, which I love, but doesn’t seem to remember any lessons from the day.
Last year I realized that my daughter had some questions about something a friend shared with her. She didn’t understand why a buddy on the bus lived with her mom and not her dad. This was the first time she realized that not every family is comprised of a mom, a dad she is married to, and the kids all in one house. In fact, many of her friendships have provided us with teachable moments about the realities of life and the diversity of home situations.
We’ve also loved helping our kids learn about other cultures and religions after they’ve come to us to tell us about the tidbits their friends have shared. During a playdate this summer my daughter, who is usually walking around singing songs about Jesus from Vacation Bible School, started singing “Candlelight,” a Hannukah song to the tune of “Dynamite.” Next thing you know we were breaking out my laptop, finding the video on YouTube, and singing in Hebrew. A quick trip to Google and we had the translation and the lesson was complete.
I grew up in an area where everyone was the same. The same race, the same religion, the same cultural background. I’m so happy that together my kids and I can learn about the people around us.
A great way to teach your kids about other cultures is through books. Check out Lifetime Mom Kimberly's picks for a multicultural book bag.