Multiculturalism is something that is all over the world. Many families come together with mixed cultures and blend them into new cultures. Most parents don’t have the same upbringing, so its wonderful to take parts of both and teach children. The more kids can learn about other cultures besides the ones they grew up with, the more accepting they can be of others. When we are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with something we can shy away from it. As soon as something is a little familiar, then we are more comfortable.
In my house, we celebrate a variety of traditions. I come from a more traditional “white-bred” American family and my husband is Persian. I have loved learning about his cultures and traditions and have even learned to speak some Farsi. Our kids are half Persian and get to learn about both of our upbringings.
Thank you to Aditi Wardhan Singh for the following guest post on Multiculturalism. She has written a great book called Strong Roots Have No Fear.
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Gratitude Towards the Role Multiculturalism Plays in Our Growth
We all know how important it is to be thankful for everything we can see around us. Our home, family, food on our tables, clothes, friends but what about that which we cannot see? The salient experiences that sparkle our lives and the lives of our children, that we need to be grateful for.
Every year when the 365 days come to an end, I celebrate by encouraging my little ones to think about out of the box things that they should be grateful for. This year, I intend to talk to them about the many ways in which the lives of others are influenced by the world around us.
Mixing family traditions
The first step, of course, will be when I bring to light that we as a family of Hindu heritage are imbibing Christmas, festive decor, elf on the shelf, Santa et all, served with a blend of Indian music and food thrown in. How Christmas celebration is akin to Diwali where the world lights up with sparkles and vibrancy.
The amazing colors that have melted into our lives thanks to the varied cultures within India, Kuwait (Where I was raised) and the United States of America (where we are fortunate to have built our home). All this thanks to my multicultural upbringing, where I grew up next to Christian neighbors who were family.
I talk to my children about the different facets of festivities they and the many people around me have brought into my life. And the joy, memories and most importantly, lessons I have derived from it.
Definition of Multiculturalism
Multiculturalism is defined as
— the presence of, or support for the presence of, several distinct cultural or ethnic groups within a society.
Loosely defined, culture refers to the shared values, beliefs and norms of a specific group of people. Culture, therefore, influences the manner we learn, live and behave. Different cultures are not only religions or regions but always ways of life. Every single way of life has challenges it faces and when we teach our children to recognize them, we encourage empathy for the fellow human being.
Showing Multiculturalism in different ways
We imbibe cultures in different ways –
Subtle nuances in different perspectives that would otherwise be lost on us. When we show gratitude, we make a conscious decision to be more open to the world.
Every single day, our children are exposed to a number of friends, educators, people who serve them and the rippling effect of each human connection is worth appreciating. For we are all together, a sum of our connections. Together, raising world children, making an effort to show them the path to confidence, growth mindset, acceptance and empathy.
But it all begins with imbibing an appreciation for the many ways in which the content we consume and the people we meet affect our life.
Every single connection shapes our thought process. Today, at a time when we are closer than ever via social media and further than ever in connections, it is most important to build this understanding as a family.
How can we teach our children to have a better appreciation for this long-lasting effect? Though mindful conversation, of course.
When we read books about different perspectives, explore different foods, dance to music that is unique, learn about history, see people living lives differently, we have a million opportunities to raise curiosity and thankfulness for the colorful world we inhabit.
So, after reading a book, during those walks, after watching a movie or when your child is curious about a person visually different than them, talk to them. Discuss the differences and similarities. Make way for learning about the world and in the process, raise global citizens.
Curious conversation and a deeper appreciation of everyone’s way of life, helps battle bullying, raising inclusive thought leaders who know to take the world along with them.
Investing time in your child’s world view via all the above is essential to creating thoughtful intercultural dialogue and teaching kids early how important agreeing to disagree is for human growth and development.
As this year begins, take a moment to recognize the colorful perspective of the many cultures surrounding you and how they have influenced your lives. Nurture your child’s empathic view of the world through an appreciation of it.
About Me – Aditi Wardhan Singh is author of the multicultural parenting book Strong Roots Have No Fear and is also the founder of RaisingWorldChildren.com, an online and print publication that helps parents from different walks of life empower their children to be confident with a global mindset early. Featured on numerous publications and broadcast networks, she has also co-authored the best seller “When You’re DONE Expecting”. In her spare time, a trained Indian classical dancer in Kathak & Bharatnatyam, Aditi likes to choreograph kids’ dance recitals to be performed at local festivals & have impromptu dance parties with her children. Her upcoming book “How Our Skin Sparkles” talks about how we are all different on the outside but the same on the inside.