Friday, March 9, 2012

Teaching Kids to see God's World


White is the color I see when I walk down the street, go to church, walk to our local school play ground, go to the store.  It is not the only color but it is the main color.   But this isn't necessarily what our children see.  Kids are color blind and can remain that way for a long time.  In fact, if you ask my two year old what color her skin is she will tell you "brown".  They don't see that labels that we as adults have been conditioned to see. 

In the adoption world world white is a minor color.  Children of other colors are over represented in the foster world and parents of the same ethnicity to foster them are underrepresented.  There are over 147 million orphans world wide.  The US represents only a half a million of these while Sub Sahara Africa has over 40 million orphans and India itself has 30 million (the largest orphan population in a single country).

We do not know what our child will look like but we know there is a good chance they will look nothing like us. We do know that as long as God keeps us down the path of the Philippians we will have one or two children with very different skin color.

We are excited to see the beauty and diversity represented in our family.  However, living in such a white world makes it difficult at times to open our child's eyes to other skin colors.  We have to be intentional about teaching her.  Here are ideas for families looking to add some color:

1. Dolls
Dolls have been a great way to naturally introduce our little girl to color.  Her favorite doll happens to not be white.  In fact neither of her top three are white.  When she gets older we have seen some great doll sets that are also doing some cool things in different parts of the world.  Maybe one day we will be able to obtain a Filipino doll for her also.

2. Little People
Another foster/adoptive mom introduced me to the idea of using Little People to add color to our lives.  This is probably one of the cheapest ways to do it.

3. Christmas
We don't have a Santa Clause up at our house, however, if you do this is another great way to show diversity.  A white culture assumes Santa is white.  So making Santa look different is great.  Also, I noticed in stores this last year that there are some really neat Nutcracker dolls from different ethnicities.

4. Books
Books are an amazing way to show diversity in color.  Typically at least one book we get from the library has children of different color.  A quick search on Amazon will find you a myriad of books.  I will admit that this is our most lacking area, which I hope to fix soon.

5. Rethink Jesus
The typical Sunday school portrait of Jesus draws him with a white frock, purple sash, long hair, white skin, and very Western looking.  Take some time to look at what the men look like in the Middle East.  Talk with children about the culture what men would of looked like.  Don't let them get sucked into that Sunday school picture of Jesus.  

6. Be Very Specific About Words
Our goal for our daughter to see color through God's eyes.  We don't point out that people are a different color then we are, we talk about other features they may have.  However, that being said (and this is so important) we also don't hide the fact that color is beautiful and wonderful.  We sing "Jesus Loves the Little Children" often.  We talk about how God created everyone and loves everyone.  People are special, beautiful, and unique.

The whole goal is to make color a celebrated part of our lives and God's creation.  We hope that no matter what our children's color happens to be that they will see their-selves.  Even if you are not adopting or fostering I urge you to be very specific in how you parent your child in this area.  Help them see the world through God's eyes, not human eyes.