Tips for Raising a Culturally Competent Child
Tips for Raising a Culturally Competent Child
PUBLISHED: Wednesday, July 04, 2018 by Andilynn Feddeler

In recent years, the push toward tolerance and diversity has become a part of everyday life. This is, in part, because America is becoming more and more diverse. This means that social justice and cultural awareness are important 21st-century skills for today’s learners, and this learning can start at home. Teaching social justice to children goes beyond “tolerating” other cultures, sexualities, and races, or choosing TV shows and books that have only a few minor representations of cultures and backgrounds different from your own. As a parent, here are some tips and resources for raising culturally competent children:

  • Take kids to rallies and protests. If there’s a particular issue your family or friends are interested in, demonstrate to your child how to constructively use his or her voice at these types of events. (Be sure to consider your children’s needs and safety before deciding to take them to a large, crowded event.) Change begins with political participation, and if your kids aren’t old enough to vote, heading to the city center to stand hand-in-hand with others is a great place to start. If he or she is old enough to vote, discuss the importance of doing so.

  • Help your kids create their own fund raisers or rallies for causes they believe in. Taking initiative and expressing leadership can make your kids more confident in their beliefs, especially when backed by results. Make sure they adequately research their cause first, so as to prevent misinformation.

  • Let your kids form their own opinions and beliefs, and have healthy discussions with them about how to best express them.

  • Expand your library, music collection, or TV show list to include more diverse perspectives. Read books by authors from all types of cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds to ensure that your child is more well-rounded and aware of circumstances in other parts of the world.

  • Explain the difference between tolerance, being a bystander, and actively participating in issues.

  • Help your children (and yourself) recognize that everyone is different. Being “color-blind” can erase the identities of oppressed people and can actually further discrimination. Despite our differences, we are all worthy of compassion and love.

  • Understand your internal biases, and work to counteract them in yourself and your kids. No one is all-accepting or perfectly tolerant, and recognizing that is a good first step.

  • Take steps toward dismantling cultural appropriation, heteronormativity, and other damaging misconceptions. Think critically about how other cultures and backgrounds are represented to your children.

  • Stand up to oppressive and problematic behavior, even from people you like. Discriminatory rhetoric, no matter how slight, can have serious negative impacts. See this article for tips on how to talk to friends and family about potentially shortsighted comments.

Although kids may seem too young to be considering these issues, it’s important for parents to discuss difficult, and sometimes uncomfortable, topics with their children in order for cultural competency to develop.