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When to Introduce Race to Child? - Page 2

post #21 of 28
My oldest is 7 and about 2 years ago started to become aware of race as an issue. This year with the election and Obama running, and also some of her school history lessons, she's learning a lot about race. I don't know if there is a proper time to bring it up. I think it kinda brings itself up at the right time and the kids pick up on it and start to talk about it.

As far as when to teach a child about his/her own race, I think a lot of times that goes hand in hand with teaching a child about his or her culture. My family identifies with being Hindu. My dd's both look very Indian like their dad and they identify with being Indian and Hindu at the same time.
post #22 of 28
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post #23 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I'm really loving this thread... I know it's a lot to ask, but I doubt I'll have access to that book... If you ever have time could you give us something quick about the four bolded subjects???

Still reading the book. Put it down for a while and finally picked it up again. Read something really interesting this morning and wanted to share:

"Being comfortable with one's own ethnic background not only helps to give one's children an understanding and appreciation of that heritage with a personal depth of meaning that can't be provided by anyone else, it also affords a child a parent that understands, intriniscally and empathically, what that child might one day face because she is racially different."

It made me remember a time when I wasn't comfortable with my own ethnic background and went so far as to deny to myself, my family, and all my friends that I was Jamaican. In my defense, I was in kindergarten at the time.

Anyway, here I am thirty years later and I have to say that I'm quite comfortable with my ethnic background and the skin I'm in, and can only hope that piece of the puzzle really does help my two little ones find their way.

Thoughts?
post #24 of 28
We talk about ethnicity. Skin color naturally comes into that (just today ds was watching a vid of Ethiopian runners and said "Oh, I almost look like them". He asked dh if he looks Ethiopian and was so pleased when dh said he does )


Racial issues are separate, for me, and they come up fairly naturally without me having to introduce them or initiate a conversation. Ds asks questions, we hear things on the news, we talk about social issues, he learns about history, he hears mention of something in a kid's story...lots of opportunity to discuss it without making it anything formal. I answer questions honestly when my kids ask, and let them direct the conversation.
post #25 of 28
When she brings it up we will answer as necessary. Technically, both my kids are "white" (caucasian) but they are not light. How to explain these absurd categories will be tough but hopefully I can give her a way to deal with questions about race, per se, and her background, without having to explain eighteenth-century encyclopaedists.
post #26 of 28
Really interesting thread, I'll have to come back to read it thoroughly. We have talked about culture a lot as we have travelled to Asia a few times, and Dh's paretns dont' speak english, so our children are partially bilingual,a nd they knwo that there are differences in language, foods, holidays, etc. We go with the approach of exposing it all to them, and includign both cultures and into our lives. I haven't really talked race specifically, but it has come up in dicussions around inheriting some traits (skin, eyes, what you like to eat, what you like to do, etc) from mom,from dad, to make your own unique self. My son labels himself as white, and he means that his skin is literally white, his dad as brown because his skin is darker( he is Chinese). I don't know if this is good or bad, or if it means more that just the face value of the actual color of his skin (which is lighter than dad's but darker than mine and darker than his brother). Thus far there are many races and combinations of races at preschool, from friends kids, but I worry as he gets older into elementary school if this will be a bigger issue. I have the book being discussed and read it when my 5 year old was about 1/2 years old, might be time to read it again from an older perspective.

On a side note, sometimes kids can say embarrasing things, culturally related, anyones else have experience with this? My 3 year old is going through a good guy bad guy phase right now, and recently seeing 2 muslim women with full covering head to toe, he asked me if they were bad guys. He has also told me and pointed to an older man covered with tatoos and leather "that's a bad guy" when we were at the mall.
post #27 of 28
It really hasn't come up yet, but then my dd is only 3.5.

All she knows at the moment is that mummy and daddy where born and lived in Africa, and that's about it. She asks lots of questions about animals and food and why mummy grew up in the desert but thats about it at the moment.

When questions about her own ethnicity come up, then we will tell her but till then I'm not going to make race an issue.
post #28 of 28
My oldest dd is almost 4, still very young. But for our family, race is no big deal. She knows that Daddy is from India, and Mommy is from America. Daddy is brown, Mommy is white. She proudly calls herself "Indian American." And she can find India on a map. (We've traveled there, but she's too young to remember.) DD herself looks white, like me. Her little sister, 18 months old, looks more like Daddy (actually she just looks like she has a very nice tan).

Also, one of my brothers is married to a woman who is Chinese. So dd also knows that she has "Chinese American" cousins. And we've shown her China on a map. When we make Chinese stir-frys with rice, we tell her "This is what people eat in China!"

For our family, it's not so much a matter of race, as a matter of where people come from in the world. I know that geography is still very abstract for a 4-year-old to understand, but still we talk about it. We have a globe, she loves to look at maps. She asks "what country is this?" etc. We have movies of India, she loves to watch them with us. I love to watch travel channel on TV, and sometimes I'll tell her, "look, that is Spain!" Or "that is Africa. Giraffes live in Africa" (she loves animals).

So for us, race is really just about people coming from different places around the world. Just as she learns that the mangos we eat grow in warm places, like India and Mexico, etc., or that people in India and China eat a lot of rice, whereas people from Europe eat a lot of bread, etc. The question of race fits in with the broader understanding of the world.

Skin color is not so much an issue. People who come from different countries look different, that's all. I hope my children grow up with an appreciation of different places. Really, it's fascinating to learn about geography, history, etc. We're not afraid to address race in our family. It's a fact of life. Underneath their color, people are the same everywhere. It's this understanding that we will try to instill in our children.
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