One of the most beautiful things about being human is that we are all different.
We come in different shapes and sizes, colors and textures, we speak different languages and eat different foods, have different beliefs and abilities, love differently and think differently. Yet, we are all human.
Since becoming parents, my husband and I have been tasked with an amazing opportunity to teach our children this beauty, and to instill in them a love for diversity. We tell them that the reason mommy has tight, curly, blackish hair and dark skin, and daddy has reddish hair and light skin with freckles, is because we are human and humans are all unique in their own way. It’s also because mommy has more melanin in her hair and skin than daddy, which is why my hair and skin are darker, and the opposite for why daddy has lighter skin and hair.
When you see us out and about, you will immediately notice that we are a biracial family, a Black mom and a white dad. We have two biracial children, one child with light brown skin and brownish hair with green eyes, and the other with light skin, red hair and brown eyes. At first glance, we may look different, but we are a family.
At home, we encourage our children to ask us about these differences. They may ask, “why is your skin dark, Mommy?”, or “why is my hair curly and Daddy’s is straight?” Children are naturally curious and observant; they want to know and understand the world around them. We want our children to ask us questions! We see every question like this as an opportunity to talk about our family, but also to talk about other families. We share that within families, not everyone may look or act the same, and that’s okay; that is not a requirement to be a family. We believe and we teach our children that if everyone looked the same, it would be quite boring, and life would be much less vibrant and interesting.
Because we have a child that is particularly interested in asking “why”, especially when it comes to people and their looks and behaviors, we find ourselves engaging in a lot of conversations about being human. Some of the questions may be blunt and potentially offensive, but kids do this! Although it can make us as adults cringe, how we respond is important! We are not dismissive, we keep our responses simple, and use the situation as an age-appropriate teachable moment.
There is nothing wrong with noticing someone differs from you; this is a normal observation for kids and adults alike!
Since our children are quite young, we do a few other things in addition to dialoging with them when they ask us questions about people, to ensure that our children are exposed to a variety of people from all different backgrounds. We like to explore our community parks and events, travel, listen to a variety of music, and read an assortment of books, to name a few ideas. Not only do we simply enjoy these things, but there’s an added bonus that we also get to connect with others who may be different from us!
The beautiful thing about being human is that we are all different and can learn so much from each other. Our children will help guide us in better accepting and understanding these differences, if we let them ask the questions and engage with them.