God’s desire is to unite all people and build His church with people from “every nation and tribe and people and nation” (Revelation 7:9). Here are some tips as you help your child understand God’s heart for diversity:
1. It starts with the parent. The challenge for parents is ensuring that children learn to accept and respect differences. Children are born with open minds and racism/discrimination is a learned mindset. Take an honest look at your diversity deficits. How do you think/talk about those different from you? How often are you “doing life” with people of diverse backgrounds? Are there any stereotypes you are unintentionally passing onto your child?
2. Get out of your comfort zone. Seek relationships and activities that are outside your cultural comfort zone. Proactively engage in diverse relationships. Have the courage to get over the fear of “having to be politically correct” and engage in discussions with all sorts of people who think, act, and look differently than you. Ask a ton of questions with a curious, open mindset and learn as much as you can. Set up situations where your child interacts with diverse friends. Buy toys that promote diversity. Serve ethnic foods. Read cultural books and maybe even travel to different places!
3. Acknowledge and respect differences. There’s no need to be blind to our differences and pretend like we are all the same. We are all very different in many ways, so honor and respect those aspects about others that make them unique. Explain to your child that differences aren’t strange or bad, they are just different – and God has created everyone unique. There are no two people on Earth exactly the same. Teach the benefits of diversity (better problem solving, empathy for all situations, additional creativity). Encourage your child to ask questions – don’t confuse their questions with being rude (avoid communicating “Shhh….you aren’t allowed to ask or talk about that”).
4. Jesus’ heart for diversity. God’s plan has always been for the love and unity of the entire human race. Jesus loves and values everyone – and he died so that anyone could be saved. God’s love isn’t reserved for one specific people group – it’s for everyone! That should both remove our pride and also increase our joy, knowing that every single person can experience the love and saving grace that God offers through Jesus.