I am American and about as pale white at they come. My husband is from the Caribbean and also lived in South America and has the perfect year around tan. When my son was born, he came out a perfect mix of the two of us but with my skin color. Given that we are an interracial couple, I assumed my son would easily accept other people and cultures. I found out a few months ago that I was wrong to assume that. I honestly never thought that I would have to explain why daddy was different.
A few months ago, my son, Logan, started acting very strangely towards Shadrach (his daddy). Logan wanted nothing to do with Daddy. He would push him away, run away from him, or did not want to play with him. The strange behavior started all of the sudden.
One night as I was putting Logan to bed, I asked him why he did not want to be around daddy and was treating him so badly. He told me that he did not like the color of daddy’s skin because it was different from his and mine. His answer floored me and caught me completely off guard.
Immediately my heart hurt for Shadrach. I was not expecting an answer like this. I never stopped and thought about the fact that I needed to teach my child about the differences in people and how that makes them each unique, especially when it came to his family. I just assumed that because this was his daddy and it was all he had ever known, that he would just love and accept him.
How We Taught the Differences Between People
I finished putting Logan to bed that night, after his confession about not liking his daddy’s skin color. My heart was heavy and I just kind of sat there and wondered what to do next.
The first thing I did, the very next day, was to start talking to Logan about what was different and what was the same between people. For example, I would ask him what was different about me. I would point out that I am a girl and he is a boy. That makes us different. Then, I would point out that he and daddy are both boys, which gives them something in common.
This little game continued when we were out in public. Quietly I would ask Logan what was different about people and then ask him to tell me if he could find something in common with them. Quickly Logan caught on and started pointing out people that looked like Shadrach and would exclaim, a little too loudly, “That man has the same color skin as my daddy!”
I was so glad to realize that he understood each person is made different and unique. The thing I wanted him to understand was just because someone looks or acts differently; it does not mean that is a bad thing. Also, my goal is to help him understand that we can always find something in common with another person.
This whole situation with Logan has taught me that as parents we do need to take the time to sit down and teach our children that people are made in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and that is a good thing! Everyone has a unique feature about them that sets them apart, and that is something to be celebrated.
Each person reacts differently when they realize people are not quite like them. Logan acted scared and mad about it because it was something he did not understand. Some children are just curious and stare. Others may ask many questions about it. There is no wrong way, but as parents, we can pick up on these cues and start teaching them that those things that stand out are what makes those people unique.
Imagine how different our world could be if we all took the time to teach our children about different nationalities and cultures. The fear of someone different would go away because that fear comes from the lack of knowledge. While I am not done teaching Logan about all of this, I know that he is starting to understand and I see him learning to love people just as they are.
Can I challenge you as parents? Let children ask questions about people but make sure to explain things. Use it as an opportunity to teach about other cultures. If you do not know about certain cultures, be honest when your child asks. Then take the time to sit down and learn about it together.
Raising “world children” does not mean you have to travel around the world.
To me it means you sit down as a family and learn about different cultures, right in your home. Thanks to the internet, Pinterest, libraries, and television, there are plenty of opportunities to learn and teach your children about all the different cultures that make up our world.
I am thankful that we are such a diverse little family and it has opened up the doors to talk about different cultures and teach how to love each and every person, no matter who they are or where they are from.
Laura Ramnath is the voice behind her Family and Lifestyle blog The Rambling Ramnaths. She has held positions in banking and worked for a children’s clothing designer, but currently, enjoys the crazy role of being wife to Shadrach and stay-at-home mom to their 4-year-old son Logan. He keeps life interesting as there is never a dull moment with him! Laura has a passion for life and enjoys family travels and adventures, hiking, going to the beach and binge watching Netflix. She is also a strong believer in CoffeeFirst!