Oh What a Difference

Dear Mr. Dad: A Korean family has recently moved in next door and our 8-year-old son became friendly with their boy, who is the same age. However, he now says that he no longer wants to play with this child because he “looks funny.” How do we teach our son to look beyond the differences?

A: If you live in a small community or a rural area where there haven’t been very many people of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, it’s understandable that your young son may be confused by a child so visibly different from anyone else he’s used to seeing.

What you have here, however, is a great opportunity to teach your boy some valuable life lessons, the kind that will, hopefully, instill in him a little cultural sensitivity, tolerance, and open-mindedness. After all, diversity is part of our national identity and should be embraced rather than shunned.
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Overcoming prejudice

Dear Mr. Dad: My son is in middle school and comes home with stories about witnessing discrimination and hearing bigoted comments from other students. How can we keep him from picking up these attitudes himself?

A: Now that the United States has just inaugurated our first African-American President (no, David and Wayne Palmer on the TV show “24” don’t count), it’s tempting to think that we’ve moved beyond prejudice. If only it were that easy. Unfortunately, the progress we make as a society doesn’t always reflect what’s going on in the hearts and minds of individuals. Prejudice—in all sorts of forms—is still all around us.
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