Discussing stereotypes with your child?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2003
Discussing stereotypes with your child?
5
Thu, 07-17-2003 - 3:36pm
Last night, Sean was using some words to describe the characters in the game he was playing that I felt would be inappropriate if repeated in public. So first, I asked him if he knew what the words meant; when he said he didn't I explained them to him (btw, Please tell me that I'm not the only one that strives to make sure I understand a word before I use it? One of my pet peeves- sorry!! LOL). He and I then talked (again) about labels and judging people just by what you could see without getting to know them.

Sean has a mixed heritage which includes American Indian and African American ancestry- he's seen the people stare when we go out sometimes. So this isn't the first time we've talked about this issue and I'm sure it won't be the last but it got me to thinking - we have a reason to discuss this because it's impacted our family and will continue to do so but is this type of conversation happening in other families where the issues aren't so close to home? If so, what is the best way to approach it? Goodness knows I need all the help I can get ;-).

Best Always,

Sherrie

co-cl


Edited 7/17/2003 3:39:37 PM ET by cl-iluv_being_a_mom

Sherrie Rainbow

Avatar for cl_janetlh
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Fri, 07-18-2003 - 9:46am
Yes, this seems to be very common at this age, and yes we do talk to our kids about the words they use, and what they mean, and stereotypes. The reason I know it's common, is some of the things S&R are saying they didn't hear at home or on TV!

I'm proud to say that S&R do have very strong senses of not talking in a mean or bad way about people, although they fall in to the gossip trap as many of us do.

We have talked about stereotypes. It's come up because, as you said, they used words they didn't understand. We talked about stereotypes about smart kids, popular kids, etc. and we talked about how not all of those things are true about all of those kids. This was something they could relate to, and we could then talk about other types of stereotypes. We're Jewish, and not many of their friends are, and somehow the topic of stereotypes about Jews was raised (not, thank goodness, because anyone said anything negative to them), so we've discussed some of those, how they came about, why people think certain Jewish jokes are funny, etc.

So, no way you're alone in this! It's not close to home here through any personal experience, and we are discussing it.

BTW, I think Sean is very handsome, and I'm sure you give him confidence about that!

Janet

Janet


Jewish Family Life

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2003
Fri, 07-18-2003 - 11:20am
Thanks, yes Sean is a very handsome boy and we do tell him that. What's more of an ego boost to him, of course, is that the girls his age are noticing and letting him know too (I'm just not ready for that LOL).

We've never had a problem regarding our religion, I'm happy that that's true for your family too; unfortunately, we've had some with Sean's race. As I mentioned, we've had the stares and the disapproving looks. Once, one of Sean's classmates made a loud comment about "No black people allowed" while looking directly at him. That one was tough for him; however, experiences like that one have made him more compassionate and he never knowingly says derogatory things about anyone - though he (like others) has done so without realizing it (and was intensely ashamed when it was brought to his attention).

So we keep talking, educating where we can - and we keep praying for a truly non-judgemental society where freedom of religion and the idea of equality of all humans are more than just words on paper.

Best Always,

Sherrie



Sherrie Rainbow

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Fri, 07-18-2003 - 12:57pm
No great words of wisdom; just I can relate. DS goes to a school district that's pretty much all white, but they have bussed in some inner city St. Louis kids. He made the generalization (stereotype) one day that the bussed in kids are all mean. I sat him down right then and there, and we had a good talk; the first obvious thing I asked was if the girls were that way? And he immediately said no. Yes, there were two twin brothers that were the class bullies, but they were not there (kicked out) this past year. And yes, a couple others were more aggressive, but no moreso than a couple of the white bullies. He had to agree. So I think just honest talks like this really help.

I just keep the channels open; I think that's the best way we can help.

Sue

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Fri, 07-18-2003 - 1:01pm
(Forgot to mention I'm 100% Polish, which has obviously led to some intentional AND unintentional ribbing...which I'm trying to tell ds is wrong for anyone to be subjected to as well...)
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2003
Fri, 07-18-2003 - 2:12pm
I agree, it needs to be discussed while it is fresh in everyone's mind. I'm with you too in that it is so important to keep the channels open, it's the only way IMO. We just keep working on the stereotypes whether or not they are visible ones.

Best Always,

Sherrie

Sherrie Rainbow