Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Teaching Children Heritage without the Baggage
Yesterday I was in my car, listening to my new favorite NPR radio show, Tell Me More, when this excellent segment came on about how parents can teach their children about their cultural heritage without passing along the pain, sorrow, shame and sadness that often comes with history.
Tell Me More hostess Michele Martin, assembled a panel of mothers; An African-American mother, A Native-American mother and a Jewish mother who was the child of a holocaust survivor, to talk about the issue. It was a riveting discussion and while I didn't come away with a clear step-by-step guide for talking to my kids about slavery and the Spanish inquisition, I was given some quality food for thought. And I appreciated hearing the topic being given airtime. I think I was most impressed with the Jewish woman's comment when she said, her mother, the holocaust survivor, imbued her kids with a sense of their own strength. She always told them (and I'm paraphrasing) "Look, if Hitler didn't get me, nobody can." In a certain way, that has to play better than being a victim. It gives children a sense of pride. Imagine a kid saying, "My mother bested one of the baddest bad men around!"
If you'd like to hear the interview click on this link and then scroll down to where you see the headline, "Teaching Children a Painful History." I'd like to hear what you think.
I'd also like to hear how you approach this topic with your own family.
p.s (Photo is of artwork by David Behrens.)