Talking To Our Kids About Diversity

Kim Kinzienon-judgment, the '70s2 Comments

I love the ’70s and would happily return to those carefree days as far as parenting is concerned. There are many things, however, the ’70s didn’t get right, and political correctness is one of them.

I will admit that I don’t love having to be PC 24/7.  Does anyone? Comedians sure don’t and, I won’t lie, one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes was ridiculously offensive to Native Americans.   Nonetheless, I’m grateful that my kids will grow up in a world that’s slightly more enlightened.

Despite the fact that we live in a town with almost zero diversity, I’m doing my best to teach my kids that we’re all equal – the same, but different.   Judging by their reactions to people who look or live differently from them, I think my techniques are proving to be successful. This is quite a feat for me as a kid of the ‘70s who also grew up in a town with almost zero diversity and watched “All in the Family” on a regular basis. I’m finding that it’s easy with regard to sexuality and religion; it’s slightly more challenging when it comes to race, and extremely difficult when it comes to disabilities.  (I admit these are my shortcomings, and that is something I hope write about someday in more detail.)

Does this mean I make fun of disabled people or use the “R” word in their presence? Absolutely not, but if faced with a child who looked like the girl in this article, I can’t deny that I’m a bit tongue-tied. It’s happened to me, as I’m sure it’s happened to all of us. You’re out in public, and you see someone with a prosthetic limb or who’s severely disfigured. Your young child points to that person and, in his loudest toddler voice says: “Mommy, that man has no leg!” or “What’s wrong with that person? They look funny!” Ugh. Now you’re filled with dread as you try to stop this train wreck, simultaneously attempting to teach your child a lesson about acceptance while also minimizing damage to the offended person. It’s an awkward moment for everyone, but I’m sure for that disabled person, it’s one that occurs all too often.

The above-referenced article was written from the perspective of a mom of a disabled little girl. It’s terribly helpful to see how our actions affect a family and the author provides some nice guidance on how to deal with the finger-pointing and embarrassing exclamations. I hope you find it helpful…or maybe you have some advice to offer of your own? If so, please contribute in the comments below. We LOVE hearing from you.

The '70s. Great for music; not so much for diversity.

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2 Comments on “Talking To Our Kids About Diversity”

  1. Phyllis

    I think there may be more diversity then you think in a town with “zero” diversity. Perhaps your town does not have many families who are African-American, Latino, or from Asia, however, diversity is there. In communities with many white people, you will see diversity in thought, ideas, living style, socioeconomic, religious background, families-of-origin, and political views. Someone taught me that we are all one human race, brothers and sisters, and to realize that people do things and think things that are “new” to our ideas. Also, we do not have to agree on anything to still be kind to each other.

    1. Kim Kinzie

      Thanks for the comment, and the ray of hope. After reading what you wrote, and giving my town a second glance, there’s a lot more diversity here than I give it credit for. The town in which i grew up, however, truly had none..everyone was catholic; everyone was white with either irish heritage, italian heritage or a combination of the two. The bonus about growing up in such a town, with progressive parents, was that I never understood stereo-types and people’s dislike of those different from them. It wasn’t until I moved to Boston and was faced with true divisiveness (i.e. the white people live here; the black people live here…) that I started to understand the issues. As i said in my article, this is a topic I’d love to explore more deeply and hope to write about it soon. thanks again for your writing!

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