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Raising children in the Foreign Service – a brief talk about diversity.

FSJOriginally published as a Letter to Editors [The Foreign Service Journal, March 2013].

Diversity at State: Helping our Children.

The value of diversity promotion in the State Department was well emphasized by EEO Counselor Krishna Das (Letters to the Editor, January issue). As a parent, I see the discussion regarding how we bring up our children within the diverse Foreign Service lifestyle as equal parts interesting, challenging, and crucial. It is, of course, necessary to serve as role models for our children right from the start, particularly in teaching the lesson that everyone, despite appearances or stereotypes, deserves respect.

As noted, State Department children are highly exposed to diverse cultures, and we as parents should demonstrate why this is such an advantage to their own growth as human beings.

Building a culture of diversity starts at home, a literal reality for many State Department families. We speak different languages, come from distinct cultural backgrounds, and practice different religions. And yet in most cases, our children are growing up in a culturally richer environment than we (parents) were brought up. Children in the Foreign Service live the concept of diversity and its social implications – on a daily basis.

Seal of the United States Department of State.
Seal of the United States Department of State. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That said, it is often necessary for us to question what is our role as parents in this process? How can we assist our children regarding the issue of diversity? It would appear as far as diversity is concerned, we need to be extra involved in their lives: listening to their stories, learning about their ventures and challenges adjusting to new, countries, discussing their questions and social frustrations, establishing a healthy communication channel, building positive identities and respect for differences. Further, we should seek ways to insert these concepts into the routines of our children’s everyday lives and help convince them through our actions that a society without discrimination is possible. It is critical for us parents and caretakers to develop ‘cultural sensitivity’ regarding our surroundings; otherwise, without specific cultural information, we may inadvertently promote practices and approaches that could counter other parents’ efforts.

One great piece of advice I once received was to “encourage your child’s friendships with others across race, ethnicity, class, religious practices, background and ability.”

The more personal experiences children have with other groups, the easier it will be to dismiss stereotypes and misperceptions.

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Want to add to the discussion? Please feel free to share your comments/opinions/suggestions here!

{Updated} Raising Resilient Children.

This is a third post on my ‘random thoughts’ about bringing our children out [first one discussed multilingualism and its approach as parents; and the second one dealt with approaching diversity issues], especially when it comes to the heterogeneous society they [children] are about to face…. any moment from now… [find all interesting links to great discussions at the bottom of this post!]

For a child, especially the young ones, parents are their strongest link to the concepts of ‘reality’ and ‘normalcy’.
That said, I recently found from Expat Child, a fantastic site for inspirations for any parent out there, even if they’re not ‘serial expats’ like our family: [and my deepest appreciation to the site authors for letting me share this!]

Mother's Day Montesori School (6)diversity & resilience

Here’s a brief update on this blogpost – a book that just came out, from the author Linda Janssen, and from which I’ve learned a lot during this journey of ‘raising expat children’:

The Emotionally Resilient Expat – Engage, Adapt and Thrive Across Cultures 

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I feel like I began this year on a very ‘introspective mode‘, rethinking life, our lifestyle, and the way we plan on leading it forward…

This is a third post on my ‘random thoughts‘ about bringing our children out [first one discussed multilingualism and its approach as parents; and the second one dealt with ‘how to approach’ diversity issues], especially when it comes to the heterogeneous society they [children] are about to face…. any moment from now… [find all interesting links to great discussions at the bottom of this post!]

For a child, especially the young ones, parents are their strongest link to the concepts of ‘reality‘ and ‘normalcy‘.
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That said, I recently found from Expat Child, a fantastic site for inspirations for any parent out there, even if they’re not ‘serial expats’ like our family:
[and my deepest appreciation to the site authors for bringing out such an interesting discussion!]
 

Five Quotes On Resilience

Picture of the Galapagos Marine Iguana with a Darwin quote on survival of the species

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. – Charles Darwin

Resilient children tend to have parents who are concerned with their children’s education, who participate in that education, who direct their children everyday task, and who are aware of their children interests and goals. Another important characteristic of resilient children is having at least one significant adult in their lives. – Linda F. Winfield

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. – Mark Twain

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: one is roots, the other is wings. – Hodding Carter

Self-esteem is the real magic wand that can form a child’s future. A child’s self-esteem affects every area of her existence, from friends she chooses, to how well she does academically in school, to what kind of job she gets, to even the person she chooses to marry. – Stephanie Martson

 
I don’t have answers for these questions, and maybe, secretly, would hope to find a few over here… from other expat/parents out there... I’m aware that we [parents] are all seeking answers, suggestions, so, I’ll echo my voice with many more… who knows? Comments/messages are very much appreciated, and more than welcome! “How are we [parents] working on raising more [socially] resilient children?”
Thank you!
 

{Weekly Writing Challenge} Why do we, parents, do what we do? A few visual reasons…

Parenting isn’t an easy task. There aren’t many solutions out there for our ‘day-to-day challenges’. And yet, we all keep on going… And why? Many bloggers/parents may relate to these statements, and who knows, even add more to the pot! With that in mind, and a bit of inspiration provided by this week’s suggested writing challenge from The Daily Post [Image vs. Text], had the perfect scenario for a ‘pictorial explanation’ of, ‘why we do what we do’ for our children!

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Parenting isn’t an easy task. There aren’t many solutions out there for our ‘day-to-day challenges’. Yet, we all keep on going… And why? Many bloggers/parents may relate to these statements, and who knows, even add more to the pot! With that in mind, and a bit of inspiration provided by this week’s suggested writing challenge from The Daily Post [Image vs. Text], had the perfect scenario for a ‘pictorial explanation’ of, ‘why we do what we do’ for our children!

Hopefully, the plan for this post will work. The images should provide at least a clue about the answers to these proposed questions… check the list below, and let’s see if you agree with the ‘suggested reasons’! ♥

* Why trying to prepare that special treat they love, knowingly we’d be tired after a full week of work, and the weekend is our only chance to recover and rescue ourselves before the upcoming work week strikes again? 😮

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* Why teaching our children the importance of group activities, the meaning of camaraderie and why being part of a team is greater than knowing how to work alone?

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* Why having your house ‘invaded’ by little ‘barbarians’, who love to scream and cry, fighting over toys and games with their peers, during a so-called ‘birthday celebration’?


* Why teaching kids to love and respect their cultural traditions, their distinct backgrounds and their personal stories? 



* Why getting up early in the morning, making sure our children have all they need for that particular school day, even if sometimes, we need to come up with a ‘last-minute’ solution for a very special request for some school activity?

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* Why going over and over their school homework, despite sometimes having a splitting headache and zero inspiration to help them with their writing assignments? 😮

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A letter of ‘appreciation’, from my resident first grader…

* Why volunteering your very scarce free time, to join them in some activity at the school?

August 2012: New life, new school, new friends. School kids receive their 'welcome' with a traditional 'Salteñada'.

 

* Why teaching our children that they need to share their life skills and abilities with others, in a selfless way?

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* Why is it necessary to show our children they’re special, unique, important in their own way, and always, unconditionally loved?

"Kids in Red", Delaware, USA.

* Why we, parents, end up doing exactly what we do, despite our list of countless complaints, which include tiredness, lack of resources and sleepless nights? We do it because we care. We care for their well-being, we care for raising emotionally resilient children, who will mature to become grounded adults, for a more compassionate and stable society. That’s why we do what we do… ♥

Hail... to The Redskins! Hail Victory!

♥ Thanks for the inspiration, and for reading! 😮