The International Day of Families is celebrated on the 15th of May every year. In general, the day highlights both the cultural diversity and human dignity associated with families around the world. This year, there was a specific focus on how new technologies are impacting family well-being. And rightly so, as we’ve all experienced an unprecedented dependence on technology during the past year or two.
Families around the world are changing a lot. For example, we are becoming smaller units, and the number of single parent households is also increasing. Extended families – with aunts, uncles, and grandparents all living together or living very close by – is also diminishing. These trends, coupled with pandemic-related social distancing, have made us think about the social and emotional protections that families offer and need.
In this context, I interviewed Leanna Guillen Mora, Founder of Multicultural Kid Blogs, and Jennifer Burden, Founder of World Moms Network. These two creative and resourceful women thrive in organizations that are based on diversity and bound by the essence of that diversity.
We spoke about a lot of things. Towards the end, I was left with this beautiful feeling of oneness with the world. Humanity is such a beautiful tapestry with such powerful artistry offered by the creator of that tapestry. Here are some of my main takeaways from our conversation.
Travel a lot
Both Leanna and Jennifer spoke about how travel had impacted their ability to embrace diversity and learn from different cultures. Travel is also a lot of fun. We see new things, which fills up the curiosity buckets of our children. We experience the unique and different, which inspires awe. And, we offer new dimensions to their young minds by modeling how to accept and embrace diversity. The world is still opening up slowly which can make physical travel difficult. But, we can still do a lot of virtual tours of museums and heritage sites.
Try different foods
Different types of food have always tickled the taste buds of children. When we let them try sweets, snacks, or candies from different cultures, we instill open-mindedness. Hopefully, this will lead to a fondness for things which are beyond their culture. Leanna regularly visits the Indian grocery store to pick up a few things like Indian ice creams. Jen also spoke about the ice creams her daughters enjoyed while visiting Japan.
Start a club
Organizing play dates with children from different cultures, or those who speak entirely different first languages, is another amazing place to start. Leanna mentioned starting a multicultural club. The club became the advent of a lifelong interest in new and different things for her children.
Make friends with diverse people
How do children make friends? Through playing and games. How cool would it be if two children from two different continents played together? Leanna spoke about her children playing Minecraft with her friend’s child in Poland. The parent from Poland wanted English-language help for her child. With this approach, learning meets fun, and kids get excited, too. My son plays chess with international friends online. Through this activity, he has created some lifelong cherishable bonds. Jen also spoke of her daughter’s book-club. Its transnational membership has facilitated friendships from around the globe. Finding ways to help our kids engage with other children, especially those from other cultures, is interesting. And, it seems particularly important during this pandemic.
Read books (or watch movies) about diverse things
Leanna spoke about interesting books like the “ABCs of Black History” and “We are the Water Bearers.” Multicultural books teach so many things about our planet. They help us explore human equity, diversity and dignity. And, even more poignantly, they help expand one’s awareness of our environment and surroundings.
Find ways to stay in touch with extended families
How did you celebrate this year’s Thanksgiving? Were you able to share a grandmother’s birthday? Did you find a way to deliver a care package to a sick cousin? My heart was touched as I listened to Leanna and Jen share their stories of ingenuity, resilience and compassion. Finding creative ways to stay in touch during this pandemic revealed that diversity and human integration are some of our shared human values.
Do not forget the ‘wisdom’ and the ‘bridge’
Grandparents hold this vast treasure trove within them. They know how to tell a story. And they know how to share ancient wisdom in ways that are palatable for modern children. Leanna and Jen used Zoom and WhatsApp calls to help their kids stay in touch with their grandparents.
As you might expect, there were many more bits of wisdom embedded in our conversation. So, if any of you would like to listen in, here is the link to our entire webinar conversation.
Also, please share your ideas and views, as well as your suggestions for staying in touch with families during this pandemic. During these trying times, we all need to support one another as we find ways to teach our children about both cultural diversity and human dignity.