People. PEOPLE!

Welcome to the July 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning About Diversity
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they teach their children to embrace and respect the variety of people and cultures that surround us. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
My husband and I are both rather open minded about other people, and what it is that they do.  We have no need to judge others, and therefore, we have not taught our children to recognize and prioritize others’ differences.  Our children rarely meet someone so different than themselves that it warrants even thinking of their differences.

However, when we moved to our new home in rural Ohio, we met with an exception.  We moved into an area with a large Amish population.  It has been exciting and fascinating for the children to learn about all of the different things that the Amish people do.  They love the buggies, the farms, the horses, the children in their different clothing.  They love the local Amish store, the local maple syrup, the produce from the local Amish produce stand.  They love everything about the Amish people in our neighborhood.

However, one local custom did not sit well with me.  In our neighborhood, it is common to refer to everything Amish, including the people, as “Amish”.  My children quickly picked up on this custom and began referring constantly to “Amish.”  By which I mean, they would say, “I just saw an Amish!” or, “Look at that Amish!”

It took a little while to explain to the children in a way that they finally understood that Amish is an adjective.  It is something ABOUT the people and their things.  It does not define the people.  And to call the people one thing about them that doesn’t define them, is really not kind.  So, my children and I began to talk about how Amish is a religion, and a culture.  We have talked extensively about how the Amish people feel that it is important to live a simple life, and that they feel it is better to do without things like electricity and cars.  We have watched how they use horses for the farm work, instead of tractors.  We have talked about what we have in common with them, like how we prefer to use our clothes lines instead of a dryer.  We have talked about their clothes, and how they feel that it is better to wear plain colors and styles.

And most of all, we have talked about how the “Amish” are PEOPLE.  Just like us.  We have really worked at using Amish as an adjective, instead of a noun.  And now, my children happily talk about the Amish boys and girls, the Amish women and men, the Amish buggies, the Amish farms, the Amish produce stand, the Amish syrup, and the Amish honey.  It feels like a big accomplishment to me to have helped my children, just through their language, develop a more understanding approach to the people of another culture.
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon July 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • A gift for my daugther — Amanda, a special education teacher for students with multiple exceptionalities, discusses at My Life in a Nutshell how she will enrich her daughter’s life by educating her the amazing gifts her students will bring to the world.
  • The Beauty in Our Differences — Meegs at A New Day writes about her discussions with her daughter about how accepting ourselves and those around us, with all our beautiful differences and similarities, makes the world a better place.
  • Accepting Acceptance and Tolerating Tolerance — Destany at They Are All of Me examines the origins of and reasons behind present day social conformity.
  • Differencessustainablemum discusses what she feels to be the important skills for embracing diversity in her family home.
  • Turning Japanese — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different shares how she teaches her kiddos about Japanese culture, and offers ideas about “semi immersion” language learning.
  • Celebrating Diversity at the International House Cottages — Mommy at Playing for Peace discovers the cultures of the world with her family at local cultural festivals
  • Learning About Diversity by Honoring Your Child’s Multiple Heritages — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of truly knowing your roots and heritage and how to help children honor their multiple heritages.
  • People. PEOPLE! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is trying to teach her children to use language that reflects respect for others, even when their language doesn’t seem to them to be disrespectful.
  • Just Call me Clarice Thomas — Lisa at The Squishable Baby knows that learning to understand others produces empathetic children and empathetic families.
  • Diversity of Families — Family can be much more then a blood relation. Jana at Jananas on why friends are so important for her little family of three.
  • Diverse Thoughts Tamed by Mutual Respect — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work thinks that diversity is indispensable to our vitality, but that all of our many differences require a different sort of perspective, one led by compassion and mutual respect.
  • Just Shut Up! — At Old New Legacy, Becky gives a few poignant examples in her life when listening, communication and friendship have helped her become more accepting of diversity.
  • The World is our Oyster — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot is thankful for the experiences that an expat lifestyle will provide for herself as well as for her children.
  • Children’s black & white views (no pun intended … kind of) — Lauren at Hobo Mama wonders how to guide her kids past a childish me vs. them view of the world without shutting down useful conversation.
  • Raising White Kids in a Multicultural World — Leanna at All Done Monkey offers her two cents on how to raise white children to be self-confident, contributing members of a colorful world. Unity in diversity, anyone?
  • Ramadan Star and Moon Craft — Celebrate Ramadan with this star and moon craft from Stephanie at InCultureParent, made out of recycled materials, including your kid’s art!
  • Race Matters: Discussing History, Discrimination, and Prejudice with Children — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy discusses how her family deals with the discrimination against others and how she and her husband are raising children who are making a difference.
  • The Difference is Me – Living as the Rainbow Generation — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is used to being the odd-one-out but walking an alternative path with children means digging deeper, answering lots of questions and opening to more love.
  • My daughter will never know same-sex marriage is not normal — Doña at Nurtured Mama realizes that the recent Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage will change the way she talks to her daughter about her own past.
  • Montessori-Inspired Respect for Diversity — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her multicultural family and shares Montessori-inspired ideas for encouraging respect for diversity.
  • EveryDay Diversity — Ana at Panda & Ananaso makes diversity a part of everyday living, focusing on raising of compassionate and respectful child.
  • Diversity as Part of Life — Even though Laura at Authentic Parenting thought she had diversity covered, she found out that some things are hard to control.
  • Inequity and Privilege — Jona is unpacking questions raised by a summit addressing inequity in breastfeeding support at Life, Intertwined.
  • 3 Ways to Teach Young Children About Diversity — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama recognizes her family’s place of privilege and shares how she is teaching her little ones about diversity in their suburban community.
  • Teaching diversity: tales from public school — A former public high school teacher and current public school parent, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama values living in a diverse community.
  • 30 Ideas to Encourage Learning about Diversity While Traveling — Traveling with kids can bring any subject alive. Dionna at Code Name: Mama has come up with a variety of ways you can incorporate diversity education into your family travels (regardless of whether you homeschool). From couch surfing to transformative reading, celebrate diversity on your next trip!
  • Diversity, huh? — Jorje of Momma Jorje doesn’t do anything BIG to teach about diversity; it’s more about the little things.
  • Chosen and Loved — From Laura at Pug in the Kitchen: Color doesn’t matter. Ethnicity doesn’t matter. Love matters.
  • The One With The Bright Skin — Stefanie at Very Very Fine tries to recover from a graceless reponse to her son’s apparent prejudice.


6 thoughts on “People. PEOPLE!

  1. I never knew that – I wonder how members of the Amish religion feel about it! It is awesome that you are helping them sort out that key distinction in our language, I’m sure it is a lesson they can apply later in other areas.


  2. I like the reminder about noticing what we have in common with people, rather than focusing just on the differences!I, too, enjoy seeing horse & buggies when we’re driving through northern Ohio.


  3. This post made me smile! 🙂 Such a fine distinction of language, but a big difference in context. And I also ditto Jana, that I love how you are focusing on what is similar. Lovely!


  4. Thank you, ladies! Our family lifestyle shares a lot with the Amish community. We have our van, and our electricity, etc. But we also live simply, make a lot of our own products, do most of our cooking from scratch, and on and on. My children love the idea of other kids who live so much like they do, and like our goals are. The kids were so excited to spot free-range baby chickens on an Amish farm recently, and we all talked about how we can’t wait to have our own farm and have free-range chickens too. The world is too big, and we are too much alike, to just look at our differences!


  5. Love this! I have had to do this regarding Native Americans. My daughter is currently enthralled with the culture of various tribes across the U.S. and guiding her to understand the differences between a culture and a person has been great fun! Definitely keeps me on my toes.


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