Discriminatory behavior is not genetic, it is learned. The same way we teach our children good manners and to read, racism and discriminatory behavior is learned and nurtured. The good news is that in the same way we nurture discriminatory behavior, we can raise allies. Like every other aspect of parenting, it must be intentional. Here are five ways to get it done.
1. Choose schools with diverse populations
A child that is raised in and constantly surrounded by diverse races and cultures will appreciate different thinking and beliefs. Having friends celebrating different holidays and eating different foods will become the norm. The focus will be on building bonds of friendship and not focusing on the differences.
2. Plan trips to ethnically diverse museums
Kids cannot know what they do not know. Educating them is how we fill that gap. As parents, we can decide on age-appropriate exhibitions for our children to visit and choose books to help our children learn more. This is a way to deliberately provide fact-based information for our children.
3. Make parent friends of different races and cultures
We influence more by our own behavior. If our friends and associates are diverse, our children will do likewise. Their circles will also become diverse as they will constantly interact with the children and families of our friends. Remember that children live what they learn.
4. Try food tourism
One of the best ways to introduce different cultures to our children is through different foods. Whether this is by cooking at home or visiting ethnic restaurants, food is a fun way to introduce diverse cultures to our children. There is no need to worry about picky eaters, there is something out there for everyone.
5. Get involved in projects
The option is always there to support an organization whose mission aligns with your values. Then not just donate money, volunteer, get involved and let your volunteerism be visible to your children. Explain to them why you are doing it and give them some background. This is all part of leading by example.
As parents, the onus is on you to raise the kind of person you choose to. Raising an ally for minorities and marginalized groups would not only make a difference, but it would also create an impactful citizen.