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Raising Children Free of Prejudice

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Parenting in Families of Color


Families of color have an especially difficult job. They must raise their children to be free of prejudice while helping them to develop a positive identity in the face of prejudice. A family lifestyle that reflects confidence and self-respect is the key ingredient here.

Parents who show their children a sense of their pride in ordinary day-to-day living -- without shielding their children from racial realities -- have an easier task. Whether a family is Latino or Asian American, African American,or Native American, its kids' books, dolls, and other toys should be multiracial. Children of color, like white children, should have toys to play with that reflect all races and ethnicities, including their own.

In the same way, a child's questions about racial and ethnic differences need to be handled with a calm understanding of what the child is really asking. When a six-year-old calls his skin color "dirty" and wonders why it doesn't wash off, he isn't developing a "negative identity." He's looking for an explanation of the differences he's noticed as a normal, curious child. He needs a simple, supportive explanation, such as, "People have different skin colors -- brown, white, black, yellow -- and you have a pretty brown color like Mommy and Daddy. It isn't dirty, and it doesn't wash off."

NexT: Coping with Prejudice

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