Teaching kids to accept diversity: Cultural Awareness

By Urooj Rehman 

Why I’m concerned as a mother with dealing with cultural differences in today’s modern world

My heart has been heavy recently. I’m noticing, and feeling, the weight of political and social events around me a lot more than I used to. I’m a mom of two girls, 3 and 8 months old, and I credit them for my newly aware and empathetic state. 

See, the thing is, I am a Muslim mom trying to raise Muslim girls in a world that seems to not only be against our darker skin color, but also our religion. I fear for the safety of my kids, often staying up at night reading heart-wrenching accounts of violence against people who look like us. I feel defenceless in the face of intolerance. Like I have to brace myself and my family against an inevitable storm. It is only a matter of time before this violence reaches me, my family, someone I love, someone I know.

How to raise children who embrace diversity

So how do we, as moms, dads, caregivers, raise our kids to embrace their distinctions and those of others? To stand proud and strong while loving those around them? The natural instinct is to surround yourself and your kids with people like you. But I’m starting to realize this is not the way. Tolerance truly does start at home. In order to teach our kids, we must be models for our kids.

To teach them to embrace their differences, we must show them how we embrace those different from us, and give others the opportunity to embrace and accept us in return.

A great way for us to teach our children to accept their ethnicity & religion among different ones.

This is why, once a month, my family and I are committing to opening our doors, virtually or literally, to someone different from us, whether it be over a playdate, a dinner, or just a FaceTime. Our goal is to learn about one another.

Cultural Awareness

Let us celebrate our disparities (yes, even “taboo” topics like religion & politics!), and discover our similarities. Let us raise our kids surrounded with beautiful distinctions, understanding one another’s struggles and sources of pride.

Let us share our pasts, and our visions for the future. Let us start a dialogue not with the goal of homogenizing, but rather highlighting and applauding all the uniqueness that makes this world go round. We hope to start to build a future of tolerance and understanding for our children, and we invite you to do the same. 


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