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My son was so excited the first time he saw a boy in a book who had his skin tone and hair style. He was three years old at the time and said: Mommy, this kid looks just like me! I heard his excitement and was proud that we live in a time where differences are reflected everywhere.
My husband is black, white, and Japanese, which provides natural, built-in racial diversity. Our kids get the opportunity to be around different people constantly — which is great — but it also brings about many questions, like why someone’s skin, eyes, and height are different.
This curiosity, while appreciated, invites conversations about how to be proud of one’s heritage and appearance while also appreciating the differences in others.
Confidence is important, and we want our kids to be proud of who they are. In our family, we celebrate the uniqueness of our cultures, recognizing that our family represents only a few parts of what makes up the world.
Children’s books are increasingly more inclusive of our differences. When kids see characters with their same curly hair or glasses, their little eyes light up! I love how literature, even literature for babies like Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes showcases the differences of each little baby while bridging commonality.
Think about being out at your favorite store shopping for your little. Notice how the models all look different. It is wonderful how many more opportunities kids have to see themselves represented in the world. I find it so important to start building that confidence early.
Perspective can be hard, especially for little ones. As mamas, we want our kids to feel secure in their own identities and to have an open mind and heart to different appearances and cultures.
As discussed in our Momfessions podcast, “Teaching Children About Diversity,” things like different skin-toned crayons adds so much perspective. Our kids are growing up in a time where companies recognize these differences and celebrate it by showcasing the beauty of diversity.
Kids get to have more conversations about skin tone at the art table and share in that experience together. I hope this openness ignites curiosity in our kids to ask questions and seek understanding.
I have already seen it with my son and his Japanese great-grandmother. He learns so much about her childhood when they are together. He loves to share fun stories of “great great-grandma” with his friends.
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Talking through differences with our kids is sometimes scary, but necessary. But when our kids celebrate these differences and their own uniqueness, they are building amazing community and an openness to others that will last a lifetime.