Kids take cues from the adult figures in their lives, whether those adults be family members, teachers, celebrities, role models, or political figures.
That said, understanding what it means to live in a country full of different people, religions, ethnicities, cultures, sexual orientations, and more often begins with open and honest conversations at home with the parents. Engaging in dialogue about these topics can help create a national sentiment of acceptance, and hopefully, shape a stronger generation for tomorrow.
We've rounded up five ways for parents to start a conversation about acceptance, from encouraging children to read empowering novels, to talking about family styles outside of their immediate home.
Check it out below:
1. Take your kids to see "Moana," or other movies with diverse characters.
In two weeks, Disney will introduce Moana to the world, featuring cast members Dwayne Johnson and Auli'i Cravalho as well as music composed by "Hamilton's" Lin-Manuel Miranda. Moana, an "explorer" and "hero in the making," will also serve as Disney's first Polynesian princess.
These types of movies can promote productive conversations about how anyone, no matter their background, can be a hero. Widespread support for entertainment like this can also help propel the film industry to make more family-friendly movies with characters that accurately represent our population.
2. Encourage them to read and talk about books with powerful female characters.
From fictional characters like Hermoine Granger in Harry Potter, to real-life heroes like women's rights activist Susan B. Anthony, encourage children to read novels, biographies, autobiographies, short stories, and more that feature powerful female characters. In doing so, we show kids that gender does not have to be a barrier for achieving greatness in any capacity. These types of characters promote strength, intelligence, kindness, inner beauty, and confidence.
3. Talk about family.
Reinforce the idea that families come in all shapes and sizes — ones with interracial parents, gay parents, adopted children, stepparents, and beyond. Parents can use positive television shows like Modern Family to invite the discussion or turn to positive examples from social media to show what happens when love trumps hate.
4. Talk to your kids about anti-bullying.
While organizations like The Kind Campaign help to raise awareness of the effects of girl-on-girl bullying, we can also work within our immediate families to stop bullying, too.
StopBullying.gov explains that "Parents, school staff, and other caring adults have a role to play in preventing bullying. They can help kids understand bullying, keep the lines of communication open, encourage kids to do what they love, and model how to treat others with kindness and respect." For more information, click here.
And in the aftermath of last night's election results, it's important now, more than ever, to remind today's children and future generations to be accepting of all those they may encounter.
5. Promote gender equality through clothing.
Purchase clothes for your kids that allow them to dress however they please, no matter what their gender. For example, clothing company "Princess Awesome," "[feels] strongly that girls shouldn't have to decide between wearing girly things and wearing math-y or pirate-y or dinosaur-y things." Other companies that work to eliminate stereotypes include Handsome in Pink, Svaha, Jessy & Jack, and more.
By simply showing them that they don't have to choose between pink or blue, or messages like "Be a princess" or "Adventure," you are helping to show them gender is a dynamic, complex that that everyone can experience differently.