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  #1  
Old Aug 2, '10, 8:29 am
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CatholicSam CatholicSam is offline
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Red face Help! Teaching kids.... political correctness?

I almost died of emarassment yesterday. And then after Mass I almost died laughing. Here's what happened.

First off, my 5 year old Joey has a verbal delay, although he does talk understandably. Just not at the same level as most other 5 year olds I know. We were sitting on a bench in our church's "gathering area" which is used as a cry room. A little while later, another family arrives late and sits next to us on the other end of our bench. My 3 year old Rosemary notices that the family has a little girl about her age and scoots to sit next to that little girl. Joey notices that there's a family with kids next to us and also scoots over to join the fun.

Then Joey greets the kids by saying loudly and clearly, "Hello my black, dark kids!" He noticed they were a black family (his best friend is a little black boy also named Joseph--took him a while to realize that not all little black boys are named Joseph ). No big deal, it was an accurate observation. But it's just so darn politically incorrect in our society to point out race differences like thay. Ugh. On the flip side, if a little black child said to one of ours, "Hi there, pale white kid!" I would totally crack up. Kids are so innocent and don't understand that some adults are offended by that. Luckily the kids' mom smiled and there were no hard feelings (that I could tell). But oh man, I was mortified. To make matters worse (for me), after Holy Communion, Joey noticed that the other family had left and loudly observed, "Oh no! They escaped!" Good grief, where does he come up with this stuff? Luckily no one heard that last quip except us.

Am I being too sensitive about this, or should I do some homeschool sensitivity training with my little ones? What do you do about teaching racial differences? We don't do anything special. We live in the South in an area that's roughly equally black and white, with a good dose of Hispanic and Asian people in the mix. Interacting with people of different races and backgrounds (we have lots of international people in our area) is something we do regularly.

I'm still cringing just thinking about it! But cringing with a smile on my face. Gosh, this is one I need to write down for posterity!
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  #2  
Old Aug 2, '10, 10:04 am
HeavenlyRoses HeavenlyRoses is offline
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Default Re: Help! Teaching kids.... political correctness?

It's not an issue of political correctness but good manners,
I've taught my children that it's not polite to mention another person's appearance unless it is a sincere compliment, i.e. "You have beautiful brown eyes."
It's not appropriate to comment on someoene's weight, height, age, ethnicity, etc.

A few weeks ago I witnessed a clerk at a department store ask an exceptionally tall gentleman how tall he was. I cringed. You know that man has had to deal with it all his life and he had a canned response for the woman; he didn't even slow down, just kept walking by.

It is a lesson that takes years to learn but will ultimately make your kids more sensitive about the feelings of others. Good manners is about making others feel comfortable around you.
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  #3  
Old Aug 2, '10, 10:41 am
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CatholicSam CatholicSam is offline
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Default Re: Help! Teaching kids.... political correctness?

I think it's a little trickier than just plain manners. Or maybe I'm making this harder than it is. And I definitely think political correctness is at play with respect to race. Since when did "black" and "white" turn into offensive descriptions? I'm not offended to be identified as white. I don't think it's wrong for little ones to notice physical differences. I'm nervous that making a big deal about *pretending* there is no difference between the various races would make them think that other races are... bad? That being morbidly obese and being some other race are equally unfavorable. Do you know what I'm trying to say? If the kids see and hear us adults making a fuss about not talking about race they're going to catch on and think there's something *wrong* about our differences. Or maybe I'm over analyzing things.

So any ideas of how to PRACTICALLY teach to not talk about race, or any other physical differences, without making the kids feel like race differences are bad? (Thankfully we don't have a problem yet of our children pointing out fatness or tallness or baldness, etc. Will deal with that if/when it happens. So far we just model polite speech and the kids tend to pick up on it, which is why this race thing is throwing me for a loop.) Keep in mind my kiddos are preschoolers who are more aware of their own comfort needs, never mind anyone else's comfort level with what they say.
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  #4  
Old Aug 2, '10, 10:54 am
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purplesunshine purplesunshine is offline
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Default Re: Help! Teaching kids.... political correctness?

I don't think it's harder than good manners. Weight, height, skin color, and even age are not appropriate to yell at your whim. There can be tricks of the light that make someone look lighter or darker than they are. And some Africian immigrants are so "black" they're almost eggplant purple.

Not that you can't think or say it ever, you just can't yell it out.

It's like race. Many people see tanned people as "mexicans" but often they are from Guatelama, Panama, Puter Rico, etc. They, however, are just as Spanish speaking as the "black" people from Dominican Republic or Haiti. It may be hurt to have this misunderstood.

Again, black, white, yellow, brown are not swear words, but it dosn't mean that we yell them out anymore than we'd yell that someone had a bit of toiliet paper stuck to their butt or a hairy nose. Or that women get their period. We don't go yelling about when someone is sick and looks like ****, but we can say, "Oh look at that man," "what man" " the sick one".
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  #5  
Old Aug 2, '10, 11:19 am
Em_in_FL Em_in_FL is offline
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Default Re: Help! Teaching kids.... political correctness?

First off... HI SAM! Haven't seen you post in a while - hope all is well with you guys!

We've had some "close calls" with our kids in similar situations... one funny story that comes to mind was when we were out at a fast food place once when my oldest was maybe 3 years old... and we asked what he wanted to drink. He SCREAMED out, "I want WHITE COKE!" ("white coke" was our nickname for sprite for the kids - they thought they were getting coke too)... and sitting right behind us was this very big black man, who just smiled... I felt horrific.

Anyway... over the years we've had several little spontaneous conversations about how God made everyone unique and special... and how everyone is like a flower - there are people that have different color and shapes and sizes, but they're all God's beautiful creatures! We've also talked about how it's not nice to point out or talk loudly about our differences because it may hurt someone's feelings (we keep conversations very "simple" like this) because in God's eyes we're all his BEAUTIFUL creatures...

HTH a bit... little spontaneous conversations seem to teach this concept best...
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  #6  
Old Aug 2, '10, 11:36 am
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CatholicSam CatholicSam is offline
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Default Re: Help! Teaching kids.... political correctness?

Purple, no one's debating that it's not OK to yell these things. And I don't know if you read my post, but my son didn't yell. He greeted, in a very friendly way I might add. Just used the "wrong" words.

Hi Em! We're doing well! Can you believe Paul's turning one tomorrow?! Thank you for your ideas! I'm so new to this problem (since Joey is a bit verbally delayed, haven't had to deal with this much before) and so nervous of making the situation worse by drawing attention to it. It's bad enough for a kid to call someone fat or ugly and be thought of as a rude child, but I don't want people thinking my kids are racist on top of it! Nothing could be further from the truth, they just don't know people sometimes get offended when racial differences are pointed out. I love your flower analogy and idea of addressing it in short little conversations. Thanks!

about the white coke! You poor dear!
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  #7  
Old Aug 2, '10, 12:19 pm
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purplesunshine purplesunshine is offline
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Default Re: Help! Teaching kids.... political correctness?

My point was just that it's no different than ordinary manners. Unless your kid spits or does some other repulsive behavior they won't be taken as racist. It really isn't a matter of being racist but it is teaching a child what is and isn't rude.

It is not racism to point out someone's features. It can be more sensitive because "that white girl" may feel more Hispanic or "that black boy" may have been raised by white parents. Calling out like that is rude. Racism would be discrimination because of skin color...eg. your son not letting a child play with them because of skin or hair or build.

Kids don't understand often what racism is...just why we'd act a certian way. But racism is the ACTION of hate, not the seeing. Growing up, I was a blonde with curly hair and easily tanned skin I knew that my friends were a chubby little Asian, tall American Indian, African American, ivory toned Irish readhead and other things but they were always my friends. I saw but didn't disclude them for their physical features.

Seeing is NOT racism, even saying is not racism. Among my Hispanic friends my nick-name, as a joke, is "white bread" even though because of my native American background I will often tan darker than them. They can call me that, and I call myself that on occasion but it dosn't affect our love for one another.

So unless your child is refusing to play with "the black boy" he isn't being racist. Don't ascribe to him a notion that children can't comprehend unless taught.
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  #8  
Old Aug 2, '10, 1:07 pm
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CatholicSam CatholicSam is offline
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Default Re: Help! Teaching kids.... political correctness?

Purple, you and I know it's not racism, because we're level-headed, rational people. But it's amazing what crazy conclusions people jump to sometimes, unfortunately. I guess I need to worry less about what I think others will think about us. "Hmmm, hasn't that kid ever played with a black child before? I wonder why... maybe his parents don't hang out with anyone who isn't white," is what I imagine could be thought by someone overhearing that interchange.

What do you mean by your last sentence?
Quote:
Don't ascribe to him a notion that children can't comprehend unless taught.
To not assume that he won't learn appropriate conversation unless specifically taught what's acceptable in polite society? We're unschoolers, so that's no new concept in our family. Last year he learned to read without being taught and now reads pretty much any kids' book we have in the house--without a single reading lesson. I'm just trying to understand what you were trying to get across there. I mentioned previously that up till now DH and I just modeled appropriate speech. Which has worked to an extent in that he doesn't think he's being rude. He thinks he's being friendly. He never insults anyone. Thank goodness, no calling people ugly (in public or otherwise), etc.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!

--CatholicSam, who is a white African American
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  #9  
Old Aug 2, '10, 1:23 pm
sanctareparata sanctareparata is offline
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Default Re: Help! Teaching kids.... political correctness?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatholicSam View Post
Can you believe Paul's turning one tomorrow?! Thank you for your ideas!
No stinking WAAAAAY! Are you serious? Yeah, I guess so. I'm looking at the ticker!
Wow. That went by fast! Happy Birthday Paul!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatholicSam
--CatholicSam, who is a white African American
I was waiting for that!

Now for my story....my kids have certain names for the people who deliver mail, in any form. I won't tell you those names because it'll ruin the story. Anyway, BOTH the UPS driver and the USPS driver show up at our house one day at the same time. The kids shout from the door to the white male USPS driver, "Hi White Mailman!" and then to the black UPS driver delivering a package to us: "Hi Brown Mailman!"

Horrified wouldn't describe how I felt. The kids have called the UPS guy/truck the "Brown Mailman" and the USPS guy/lady/truck the "White Mailman" for.ever. I didn't even think about it, until that day. I did explain to both that the kids referred to them based on the color of their trucks, and that our black FedEx guy was also a "White Mailman."

Now they've learned to call them the Mail Lady (we have a woman now), the UPS guy and the "other" mail guy, because they can't remember FedEx.

Maybe we get too much mail.


PS....I think "Hello, my black, dark kids!" is utterly adorable. You have to write that one down.
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  #10  
Old Aug 2, '10, 1:27 pm
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purplesunshine purplesunshine is offline
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Default Re: Help! Teaching kids.... political correctness?

my point is you're worrying too much about what others think. Yelling out "that lady is fat" will probably actually get more people riled these days that "that lady is black". If someone things because you are at the store at 10am with your 5yo that you must not be educating him you can't change their prejudice. Someone who fears racism will hear racism in anything. For instance, my boss' favorite drink was grape soda and he always tried to upsell it so it wouldn't fall off the inventory plan. A young man walked in and my boss gave his usual line but the boy spun around, infuriated, and yelled, "You think I want a grape soda just cause I'm black!"

My boss was the most AWESOME shade of red that anyone ever saw. And he never, ever, intended a racial comment.

And what if the people thought you were racist? What will happen then? Will you be arrested, jailed? Will you be fined? Will you loose your home? Job? Children? No. So don't worry about what other people think. Racism is horrible, but honestly, worse comes to worse it is still NOT a crime. (unless there are acts or harassment).

You have 3 kids. Some people already think...and would probably say to your face you're a reckless breeder. (if you don't believe me look at the conversations on yahoo) Will that stop you from having more?

As far as racism. Children are inherently trusting creatures do not hate unless they are taught to hate. They won't not play with a child, or be mean to an adult, unless guided to. My point was that as long as you don't teach them to hate, they won't even understand why someone would hate.
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  #11  
Old Aug 2, '10, 1:37 pm
mommamia mommamia is offline
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Default Re: Help! Teaching kids.... political correctness?

It is just basic manners that we not point out obvious differences in others. But I think it is also important to discuss race and ethnicity with children. If only to drive home the point that we are all children of God, and race is not a good judge of a person. And yes, with children you need to be specific as to what things are not polite to talk about.

I think all of us parents have had that moment, when your kid said something totally innocent that could have been taken as very offensive. I think what your little one said was cute, but do understand your point.
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Old Aug 2, '10, 2:29 pm
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CatholicSam CatholicSam is offline
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Default Re: Help! Teaching kids.... political correctness?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanctareparata View Post
No stinking WAAAAAY! Are you serious? Yeah, I guess so. I'm looking at the ticker!
Wow. That went by fast! Happy Birthday Paul!
No kidding! This has been the fastest year of my life!


Quote:
Originally Posted by sanctareparata View Post

Now for my story....my kids have certain names for the people who deliver mail, in any form. I won't tell you those names because it'll ruin the story. Anyway, BOTH the UPS driver and the USPS driver show up at our house one day at the same time. The kids shout from the door to the white male USPS driver, "Hi White Mailman!" and then to the black UPS driver delivering a package to us: "Hi Brown Mailman!"

Horrified wouldn't describe how I felt. The kids have called the UPS guy/truck the "Brown Mailman" and the USPS guy/lady/truck the "White Mailman" for.ever. I didn't even think about it, until that day. I did explain to both that the kids referred to them based on the color of their trucks, and that our black FedEx guy was also a "White Mailman."

Now they've learned to call them the Mail Lady (we have a woman now), the UPS guy and the "other" mail guy, because they can't remember FedEx.
Oh my goodness, that's priceless! Thinking about this, I don't think I would have realized how that sounds (white mailman and brown mailman) either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanctareparata View Post
Maybe we get too much mail.
Is that even possible?

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Originally Posted by sanctareparata View Post
PS....I think "Hello, my black, dark kids!" is utterly adorable. You have to write that one down.
It can go in the book right alongside this one. Last week we were at the McDonald's playground, and another family was there with 2 boys. Those 2 boys had vocal cords of steel, I was shocked. I thought *my* kids are loud. Nooooooo. Not anymore! Anyway, as we were leaving, Joey cheerfully called back to them, "Goodbye my boys!" And then one of those boys made that horrific loud noise that they were making during their play. Joey corrects himself, "Goodbye my scary boys!!"
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Old Aug 2, '10, 2:32 pm
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CatholicSam CatholicSam is offline
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Default Re: Help! Teaching kids.... political correctness?

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Originally Posted by purplesunshine View Post
my point is you're worrying too much about what others think.
Yes, I guess so. I'm very empathetic and don't like to think that I'm causing others to feel bad.

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Originally Posted by purplesunshine View Post
My point was that as long as you don't teach them to hate, they won't even understand why someone would hate.
Oh, OK, I see!
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Old Aug 2, '10, 2:33 pm
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CatholicSam CatholicSam is offline
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Default Re: Help! Teaching kids.... political correctness?

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Originally Posted by mommamia View Post
I think all of us parents have had that moment, when your kid said something totally innocent that could have been taken as very offensive.
Feel free to share yours! Moral support for the mortified parent!
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Old Aug 2, '10, 3:02 pm
queen_anne78 queen_anne78 is offline
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Default Re: Help! Teaching kids.... political correctness?

there is a great, great chapter in a recent book called "Nurture Shock" that discusses (and backs it up with the science) why white parents don't talk to their kids about race, and why it backfires.

In a nutshell...political correctness and the idea that we should all be "color blind" doesn't work. Through studying pre-school and school-aged kids and using different "diversity education programs" they have found that the best approach is pretty simple....just talk about it The statement, "Oh so you noticed that some people have darker skin than you! You're right! We can still be friends with people who don't look like us!" and especially, "There are black people who do good things. There are black people who do bad things. Just like there are white people who do good things and white people who do bad things"

Children are so perceptive of differences, and they can come up with pretty creative conclusions....best to talk to them about differences and celebrate them at the risk of not being politically correct I think Sam, I think Joey is still young enough to be just beginning to understand social conventions, you know? You can begin to introduce those concepts, though I am sure that there will be many more moments of embarrassment

Good to see you back on here!!! I, too, and just amazed that Paul is so old!!!!!!! What happened to the time!?!?!?!?
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