In a book I LOVE, Nurtureshock, there is a chapter on talking about race with children. Ya see, us white folk don't talk about race. Maybe we don't because we want our children to be "color blind", maybe we don't know what to say, maybe we don't want to think there are still massive inequalities in the world. Hell, some people even BELIEVE there are no inequalitites-seriously!!!!
Anyhoooo, after reading this, it really struck a nerve. Princess went to a pretty diverse preschool, and I employ a pretty diverse staff. Even our extended family is diverse. I truly thought there was no need to discuss issues like race, because I naively thought my kids would just "get" that race shouldn't be a basis for judgement, through my actions. I was wrong.
It's like not teaching your child about how to deal in a relationship, because they will see you in a good one. Or, not teaching them about sex, until YOU are ready for them to have the knowledge. Our teen pregnancy rate (all the way up to the top with Bristol Palin) has made it painfully obvious we, as parents need to spend more time TELLING our children what we believe and why. Answer those questions, yes. But, start the discussions, too.
:::Stepping off soapbox:::
This applies to gay and lesbian issues as well. Regardless of how you personally feel, your child is likely to come across people that are gay or lesbian, and "out". How do you want them to respond? What do you want them to know? Keep it simple, but accurate, and reflecting your values. I assure you, they will get their info SOMEWHERE. Shouldn't it be from you?
A while back, I became aware that my children knew nothing about gay or lesbian issues. I was shocked, as I have a few gay or lesbian friends.
On our way to school, Princess and I had this convo:
P: Who is riding with us for the field trip?
Me: Ali, Ruby, Naia, and Naia's mom.
P: Oh, Maddy?
Me: No, Caroline.
P: --confused look--- Huh???
Me: Caroline, Naia's mom.
P: I thought Maddy was Naia's mom.
Me: She is, and so is Caroline. Naia has two moms.
Me: Well, Caroline and Maddy love each other like me and daddy love each other, and they have 3 daughters.
P: Eeew. When I grow up, I'm not going to marry a girl. They have to kiss. that's gross.
Me: Oh. Well, you don't have to.
Me: Is it ok for Caroline and Maddy?
P: ---confused look again--- Ummmm, Yeah. Of course!
Then, a few days ago, overheard between Princess and her friend Julian:
Julian: I'm going to marry Claire.
P: I'm going to marry Tyler. Unless he marries Ali. They like each other too. Then, I will marry Shaye.
J: You can't marry Shaye, she's a girl!
P: Yes I can! I love her, and Maddy and Caroline are two girls and they are married, so I can, too!