Hudson Valley Parent

HVP April 2015

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24 Hudson Valley Parent ■ April 2015 The bonus is that this allows you to open the door to speaking about not only racial diversity, but all kinds of diversity, according to Cohn. "This is an opportunity to ac- knowledge that we live in vast world, where there are many different kinds of people with many backgrounds, cultures, languages and religions and ways of thinking and encourage dialogue about this," she says. Intentionally expose them to diversity According to the 2010 census data, in Orange County, black residents accounted for 10.2 percent of the population, and Hispanics accounted for 18 percent. On the other hand, in Ulster County, the census data showed that only 6 percent of residents were black and 8.7 percent were Hispanic. It is up to parents in these areas to showcase a wide range of dif- ferences to their children. This can be done through age appropriate picture books, such as "Whoever You Are" by Mem Fox or "The Colors of Us" by Karen Katz. You can also do this through TV shows. The classic standby is Ses- ame Street, but cartoons like Little Einsteins, Ni Hao Kai-Lan, and Dora the Explorer also feature different cultures and races. Moyer suggests watching such shows with your child and listening to see if they point out any differ- ences. You can use the opportunity to discuss a different way of life and world view. You can also use this to begin introducing your child to what race is, asking perhaps, "Do you know why his skin is a different color? It's because of where his family came from a long time ago." Whatever your entry point, it is a critical talk to have, and one to continue to engage in as your child grows. Dawn Green is a freelance writer a mom of two boys who lives in Saugerties. Anita Mambo Cohn, LCSW, MA, a psychotherapist who practices in New Paltz and works with individu- als, couples and families of diverse backgrounds in New York City and throughout the Hudson Valley, says it is critical that as parents we do not shut down those questions. "Young children are naturally cu- rious and this is something that we want to encourage," she says. Instead, use these comments or questions as an opportunity to open a dialogue. It is important that during such a dialogue we not only acknowledge differences, but also point out similarities among peo- ple who perhaps look different. For instance, a parent could say: "Even though you and Eli have different colored skin, you also both have a lot in common. What kind of things do you think you have in common?" Moyer says another approach would be to highlight the fact that everybody has differences: "He does have darker skin than you. Johnny's hair is lighter than yours. Annie has blue eyes! Everyone is unique — there are so many different skin, eye colors, and hair colors. What do you think about that?" 5 $KHDOWK\SUHJQDQF\ " 5 %HLQJDQHZSDUHQW" 5

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