Connecticut Families Extra: Race, class, and kids’ conversations

Connecticut Families

America is more diverse now than at any other time in our country’s history, yet conversations about race may be among the most difficult to have with children.

11-year-old Rory Breaker and his little brother Auggie live in a multicultural neighborhood in New York City. When you ask about his family, Rory says he acts most like his mom, Kate, a theater director.

“We like to do a lot of the same things,” Rory said.

But Rory says he looks more like his dad, Daniel, a Broadway actor.

“I think we have the same nose,” Rory remarked.

Diversity is part of the fabric of Rory’s family. His parents talk about it, but is that the exception rather than the rule?

Sesame Workshop and NORC at the University of Chicago conducted a nationwide survey of more than 6,000 parents and found 68 percent of the respondents felt race has some impact on a child’s ability to succeed. But 60 percent rarely discuss race or ethnicity or social class, even though kids notice differences at a very early age.

Related Content: Connecticut Families Extra: Kids recognize social class early

Tanya Haider is the EVP of Strategy at Sesame Workshop. She said, “On the playground, ‘hey mom, why is that person’s skin color different than mine or why is that lady wearing something on her head.’ We tend to shush them up because we get embarrassed or we think that we’re gonna offend someone.”

The research suggests parents should look for events and opportunities to celebrate your child’s heritage, color, religious beliefs, and family makeup and look for opportunities to discuss and embrace differences.

“It could be a moment in the supermarket. It could be a moment in the playground,” Haider said.

Moments that will help your child learn more about themselves and the diverse world around them.

The new study builds on previous research that finds a positive social identity and acceptance is associated with greater self-esteem, tolerance, and also better outcomes in the teen years and adulthood.

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