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Raising Great Kids in a Diverse World

Raising Great Kids in a Diverse World
Raising great kids in a world that is changing faster than ever is no mean feat. Kids need to be taught to embrace humankind not just their 'own kid'.
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Articles

New blog site...
2008-02-15 16:13:00
We have recently upgraded and redesigned our blog. You can access the new blog athttp://blog.endbullyingtoday.comThe blog will be focused on strategies and techniques to bring diverse people, cultures, races, traditions, choices and abilities into your everyday lives. We know that if we expose our children to a wide variety of experiences etc. they are much less likely to biases and stereotypes that are often a precursor to bullying-and worse.So check it out...and take a look at our new (still building)site www.globalbirthdayparty.com With respect, Deb
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Parental Obsolescence
2007-11-21 21:05:00
Last night was the first night in nearly seven years that I spent alone in my own home-not counting the dogs. I was able to work as late as I wanted, eat what I wanted, watch what I wanted to watch on TV. It was great.Of course, it didn't take me long to realize that I was getting a view of the coming attractions-more and more nights left to my own devices as my daughter spends more time with her friends and less with me.Since I had some time, I began to to think about our role as parents. What is our primary job-keeping them safe, healthy and happy, educated and clothed and of course, loved. Surely those things are critical to raising a child, but I was groping for the "why" rather than the "how" of parenting.Then it hit me-our primary job is to make ourselves obsolete-just like the manufacturer of that fancy laptop you bought two years ago planned its obsolenscence to get you back in the computer buying game!Isn't our real job preparing our kids to grasp their futures? We are pr...
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Families are Forever. Period!
2007-11-20 13:27:00
November is National Adoption Month. It is a time to celebrate and honor families formed via adoption and remember all of the children, both in the US and abroad, who need 'forever families'.That's right-'forever families'.Contrast the spirit of National Adoption Month to the headlines that have screamed that Angelina Jolie's daughter Zahara's adoption was anything other than legal, binding and forever and the ramifications that these kinds of accusations have, not only on Angelina Jolie's family, but on all families formed via adoption and all of the children who have yet to find their forever families.Adoption is forever. Period . That is the bedrock promise that parents who expand their families via adoption make. It isn't temporary. Parents can't change their minds and 'return' a child and birthparents who legally terminate their parental rights can not decide at a later date that they want to raise the child.The concept of forever family is critical to the health and...
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The lesson of the mandala....
2007-11-19 15:44:00
Mandala is the Sanskrit word for completion or circle. Up until a few years ago, I had never heard the word or had any idea that a mandala was a 'thing'. In 2004, Lama Tentzin came to my daughter's school to build a sand mandala. The Sand Mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition which symbolises the transitory nature of things. As part of Buddhist canon, all things material are seen as transitory. A sand mandala is an example of this, being that once it has been built and its accompanying ceremonies and viewing are finished, it is systematically destroyed.The kids were able to watch Lama Tentzin slowly and methodically build the beautiful mandala over the five day school week, while talking with him about peace, harmony and love. They meditated with him in the morning and listened to his prayers before he began work on the mandala each day. At the end of the week, they watched him dismantle the mandala and accompanied Lama Tentzin and the mandala to the beach where the sand wa...
More About: Lesson
All Chinese people live in Chinatown.....right?
2007-11-15 17:02:00
I don't always like to admit that my seven year-old teaches me important lessons on a regular basis. After all, I am the parent-shouldn't I be omnipotent?Apparently, not. The other day, my gal was standing with three boys watching an adult take a tennis lesson. The boys began speculating about the man's ethnicity. After testing out several theories, one boy said, "he must be Chinese ." His buddy replied, "nah, it can't be all Chinese people live in Chinatown ."I was about to come unglued when my daughter calmly said, "That is not true. All Chinese people don't live in Chinatown." The other boys looked at her, like she had given them winning lottery numbers and said to their friend, "she's right, that doesn't make any sense. People can live anywhere."We talked about the exchange in the car on the way home. Showing my anger at the entire situation, I asked her why she didn't tell the boy that his comment was just plain stupid. "Mom, calling him stupid isn't the right ...
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Is global climate change the cataylst for global respect?
2007-11-12 15:05:00
It seems that more and more people are 'going green'. CNN traded in the red in its logo for green and NBC turned its multi-colored peacock into shades of green. Julia Roberts' new house is green, too.Could global warming (or global climate change, if you perfer) be our world's common enemy? Can a cohesive fight against this phenomenon be the catalyst needed to get people focused on things other than racial, religious, cultural etc differences that are the cause of so many conflicts. Could fighting a real enemy be the ticket to both saving the planet and humanity? There's nothing like a common enemy to join people from disparate points of view together. For centuries, unlikely allies have been able to cast aside their differences to combat a mutual enemy. Can we do it again?Selfishly, I hope the world will rally and rise to fight global warming-the real impact won't likely effect me dramatically. Frankly, even if global warming is a bunch of b.s., the potential for all p...
More About: Climate Change , Climate , Change , Global , Respect
If you don't know Jaiya John-you should!
2007-11-08 13:56:00
Jaiya John is simply incredible. If you haven't read"Black Baby;White Hands-a view from the crib"-run, don't walk to your nearest bookseller! The book is a poignant autobiography exploring adoption, racism and racial identity that everyone-connected to adoption or not-can relate to in some way.John's latest book,"Reflection Pond" is now available and is also a 'must read' for anyone interested in the welfare of children-all children.In a world where millions of children-for various reasons-are separated from their original family (and maybe culture)we are all forced to consider how we can empower children to heal. The book challenges adults to serve children and get involved in their healing.In addition, John announced the 2nd Annual Foster Youth Poetry Contest. Open to children from 14-24 it is an opportunity for children who have come through 'the system' to share their experiences with all of us. Contest deadline is JANUARY 22, 2008. For more contest details and entry guid...
It it looks like a bully, acts like a bully and sounds like a bully-its a b
2007-11-06 17:40:00
I was recently involved-peripherally-in a conversation about bullying. The conversation started when a parent asked if a particular incident-related to her kindergarten age daughter- was bullying, a big deal and if it should be brought up with the teachers.Several things come to mind when reflecting on bits and pieces of the conversation:1. Bully ing is all about POWER-the power hurt-either by words or actionsanother person.2. No one should ever have to put up with bullying of any kind-EVER.3. Bullying behavior has to be stopped IMMEDIATELY.4. Never hesitate to bring in your child?s school and/or teachers.5. Bullying behavior HAS to be addressed when kids are young-by theTime they get to third grade, much of the bullying behavior is already entrenched.6. If you want you child to ?tell? on someone who is a bully, is being bullied or if your child is the victim-you need to model that behavior and TELL someone in a position to help you sort it out.The other thing that jumped out was the...
More About: Sounds , Looks
Why is that auction "Chinese?"
2007-11-05 18:18:00
That was the first question my daughter asked yesterday as we were wound our way through our church's "Chinese " auction."Do they auction Chinese people or Chinese things?" she asked.The origins of the "Chinese auction" aren't clear, but I am willing to bet the rent that the origins aren't in China. Conventional wisdom cites a a wealthy American socialite from the early 1900's believed to reside in NY as the creator. According to legend, she was looking for a new and unique idea for charity fundraisers. After struggling to find a new concept she hit on a "Chinese auction". What is the Chinese part you might ask? Well, apparently this wealthy woman believed that making the auction "Chinese" added intrigue, mysticism and mystery to an ordinary event-reflecting the way that many Americans viewed Chinese people at the time. Fast-forward 100+ years. Do we still need to put the word "Chinese" in a description? Isn't defining a person or event with this label reinforcing the stereotype...
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Olympic Torch Bearers-almost 100% right! Congratulations to Jenny Bowen!
2007-11-02 13:04:00
I am sufficiently recovered from my Halloween hangover to resume normal activities....but this year it was just too much Halloween. I am glad that is over and I am not yet ready to face the holiday madness during this brief reprieve.As I 'came to' this morning I saw that American Jenny Bowen the Executive Director of the Half the Sky Foundation (dedicated to the children in China's orphanages)will be carrying the Olympic torch for 200 meters in Beijing at the start of the Olympic Games this summer. It is not certain, yet, whether the children will be allowed to run with her, but stay tuned. Jenny has proven that NOTHING is impossible.What could be better than Jenny running? The composition of the rest of the runners, that's what.Joining Jenny are fellow expats: Marcos Torres of the Philippines, Werner Ebel of Germany, Meena Barot of India, Yoshitoshi Mizuya of Japan, Luis Hong-Sanchez of Colombia, Yury Ilyakhin of Russia and British-Venezuelan Deirdre Smyth.The eight submitted e...
More About: Congratulations , Bear , Torch
What's wrong with this costume?
2007-10-30 14:58:00
A lot! According to wrong www.tolerance.com "the "Indian" get-up prevails each year as culture-turned-costume. But did you know few Native Americans wore buckskin and headbands and even fewer wore them together? Did you know "war paint" and feathers carry religious meaning and were never worn by Native American children?" Wow! Who knew? My daughter left the house the other night in high spirits dressed as Hannah Montana...and she looked great and she thought so, too. By the time she came home, however, she wasn't so thrilled to be Hannah Montana. Someone at the party told her she didn't look like Hannah Montana (like anyone but Hannah Montana would look like Hannah Montana).She asked if she could have another costume for her school "Halloween Runway" and I agreed. Then we sat down and looked at costumes online. As we were looking, I would make suggestions-and she would say, "no, I don't think so." It finally dawned on me that the models in the costumes were mostly BLONDE-like H...
More About: Costume , Wrong
Help kids in San Diego
2007-10-29 15:35:00
Please donate on pair of new pajamas to the kids in the San Diego area who have lost so much. Send on pair of NEW pjs to:SCRIPPS HospitalAttn: Pajama Drive9888 Genesee AveMailstop LJ36La Jolla, CA 92037Please include a short note and a picture of your child.Please do it today!With RespectDeb
More About: Kids
Fear of MRAS or Each Other!
2007-10-29 15:17:00
Yesterday was one of the first crisp fall days in New York and so we headed to the Bronx Zoo's annual "BOO at the Zoo" event.We had a blast-as we always do at the Zoo. Magic shows, story-telling, sing-a-longs, hay rides and trick-or-treating were just some of the activities.As the day drew to a close, we wandered in to a tent where John Farrell was hosting a sing-a-long. Towards the end of his performance, he invited all the kids to come up to the front of the room and join hands-which they did. When he invited the adults in the audience to do the same thing-we couldn't/wouldn't/didn't join hands.We kind of looked at the person who was sitting next to us and quickly turned away, putting our hands in our laps. There was no hand-holding on our end. The kids, on the other hand, were having a ball-clasping the hand of the kid next to them without a second thought.The difference was remarkable.Now, the adults may have been fearful of germs-after all MRAS is making headlines. And it i...
More About: Fear
Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton go to school!
2007-10-26 19:39:00
In yesterday's Wall Street Journal, there was an article on the front page of the Personal Journal about the relationship between fashion labels and bullying.Not only do the kids need to have designer clothes to be safe from teasing from other girls-they have to be the right designers! I guess I wasn't surprised that designer clothes were important statements for kids-I caved in and bought my daughter a pair of UGG boots when the knock off pair didn't make the grade. What surprised me is the hierarchy of designer duds.Of course, this in not being helped by the fact that more and more designers are -targeting young girls and girl-to-girl bullying is growing at an alarmingly fast rate. One-third of middle school girls surveyed answered "yes" when they were asked if they had been bullied due to the clothes that they wear.Many of us use our clothing to reflect how we see ourselves, but as adults we are much less affected (hopefully) by the criticism of others. Many of us have been ab...
More About: School , Louis , Chanel , Gucci , Chan
Thursday is book day!
2007-10-25 16:46:00
This one is an oldie but a goodie. In fact, after a recent teasing incident this book was read to all the kids in my daughter's school-followed by a discussion. This book does double duty-it is fun, has beautiful illustrations and packs a powerful message without hitting you over the head.Take a look at Giraffes Can't Dance and share it with your kids, your kids' schools and anyone who will listen.!With respectDeb
More About: Book , Thursday , K Day
Mom, are you gay?
2007-10-24 14:08:00
Remember the days when we used the word 'gay' we meant happy? My friend Gay does!But when my daughter asked, "What is gay", I had to think for a minute about the answer. My daughter tends to ask me these types of profound questions when we are in the car, so thankfully, I could buy a little time while I 'concentrated' on driving.Having gotten over my urge to jump right in, I asked her what she thought it meant.She replied when two women love each other like they were married. Pretty smart, I thought. "Can boys be gay," she asked? That was an easy one-I just repeated her answer.Things got a bit trickier quickly. She wanted to know if she was gay because she like the girls in her class (she likes the boys, too but she seemed to have forgotten that). Hmmmm....how to explain that one. We talked about what married people share-homes, family-building, committment and love and why that was different than having friends whom you love in a different way. Then I added that if she...
Who is Piyush?
2007-10-23 13:57:00
Piyush Jindal was just elected Governor of Louisiana. Educated at Brown University, he is a Rhodes Scholar and the winner of many prestigious awards. When he was elected to Congress he was in his early thirties and may have been one of the youngest people ever elected to Congress.Do you know who Piyush is? You may know him better as Bobby Jindal. Ok, strike one.. When Piyush was a youngster-pre-school age-his classmates renamed him Bobby-and the nickname stuck. While we can be grateful on his behalf that the nickname wasn't derogatory in and of itself, it may reveal the desire that he may have had to be more "American" and his contemporaries desire to-at best, make their lives easier by giving him a common name, or-at worst, consciously or subconsciously showing their biases and bigotry for people of color.You might think that this arbitrary re-naming is something that has gone the way of the horse and buggy-but you'd be wrong. Just recently a Yahoo group that I peruse spent time ...
We've made a breakthrough-thanks, Albus!
2007-10-22 14:55:00
Well, who woulda thunk it? JK Rowlings recently revealed that the beloved headmaster of Harry Potter's Hogwarts, the late Albus Dumbledore, was gay! According to Rowlings, the signs were there all along-if one read between the lines. The object of Dumbledore's affections-his boyhood friend and rival wizard Gellert Grindelwald.According to Rowling, the reaction has been mostly supportive, leading many to believe that we have turned the corner on our ability to accept a person's sexual orientation-and not let it get in the way of his/her other qualities. Is it possible that the smoke has cleared and we are able to see the real person-who happens to be gay?Maybe.We are certainly a long way from the fury over the sexual orientation of one of the Teletubbies and from 2005 when PBS decided not to distribute an episode of "Postcards From Buster" that had been criticized by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings for including lesbian characters.No matter what your sexual orientation, the...
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"I went to a Chinese restaurant...."
2007-10-16 16:32:00
That harmless phrase was the beginning of one of those common school-yard clapping songs-the 21st century version of "Miss Mary Mack"-that my Asian-born daughter came home singing the other day. I didn't think too much about it until I realized that the song came complete with gestures-one of which involved pulling the sides of the eyes into a long slit (aka Chinese eyes).I hemmed and hawed about what to do. I felt that this gesture was disrespectful and could lead to other stereotyping and teasing, but since I sometimes go off half-baked I decided to cool my jets for a bit.The results of yesterday's poll swayed me. All of the voters indicated that they would take some action-evenly split between intervening immediately if their child was bullied or helping the child deal with the situation and then intervening if the child needed further assistance.I opted for contacting the school and the teacher. Thankfully, their take on the incident was similar to mine-not appropriate, disres...
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Run, Jenny, Run!
2007-10-15 16:12:00
Jenny Bowen got the most amount of votes in the race to carry the Olympic torch in Beijing in 2008. Of course, the final decision will be made by a committee in China but it is pretty amazing that Jenny and her organization, Half the Sky, have made such an impression. If, in fact, that Jenny and eight kids from the orphanages that Half the Sky supports gets to run, the impact for the kids in orphanages in China will be enormous.While many people in and around adoption from China continue to fret over the length of the wait for their children and the implications of the new requirements for parents, the Half the Sky Foundation is focused on the children who remain in China's orphanages. They supply much needed support to the children and the facilities who are waiting for their 'forever families' including 'Granny's' to love and hold them, schools, and playgrounds.Jenny Bowen and her team have done a remarkable job at working with the government in China to take care of the kid...
More About: Jenny
Friday Fun! Will the real Hannah Montana please stand up!
2007-10-12 15:19:00
Halloween has become a BIG holiday. The Wall Street Journal reported that Americans will spend over $3 Billion (yes, billion) on Halloween costumes, decorations and other Halloween paraphernalia. And if my unscientific survey of elementary school girls is any indication it seems that a significant portion of that money will be used to procure Hannah Montana costumes.I got a chuckle the other day, when my daughter and her friends (all of Asian decent) discovered they were all going to be Hannah for Halloween. The girls starting laughing as the each modeled Hannah's signature long blonde wig and 'became' Hannah. One girl said, "a Chinese Hannah Montana ?" They'll never believe this."I am hoping that we will be able to get a photo of the Hannah's at the annual Halloween party...I am sure Hannah would be proud.Have a great weekend.With Respect,Deb
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Thursday is book day!
2007-10-11 17:13:00
October 11, 1492 is the actual day that Columbus landed in the New World and this book is a great choice for young readers who are interested in history (or readers you want to get interested in history!)Rather than the usual pandering to the Columbus myth, this book puts kids right in the story asking them to imagine the excitement and pitfalls of sailing with Columbus. The first line of the book immediately draws the reader in with a description of Columbus's life as a ten-year old dreamer. From there, each chapter asks the reader to consider some of the least 'romantic' aspect of exploration, like, 'how would you pay for it', 'how would you prepare your fleet', 'how would you steer', 'what would you do if you lose hope', 'could you survive on shore' and 'could you get home safely'.This book will make would-be explorers stop and think about the realities of exploration as well as let them gain insight into some of the challenges that Columbus faced.With Respect,Deb
More About: Book , Thursday , K Day
What Columbus can teach us about updating our thinking.
2007-10-10 18:41:00
On Monday, people in 33 of our 50 United States celebrated Columbus Day. Of course, this immediately begs the question "what happened to the other 17 states?" Do they know something we don't? Or is it purely a bureaucratic oversight?Not knowing the real answer, I started to look into Christopher Columbus's story. I had grown up singing "Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred and ninety-two, thinking that Columbus had, in fact, discovered American. As it turns out, Columbus 'discovered' land that was inhabited by hundreds of thousands of native people that had arrived in what is now the Americas, around 800 BCE via the Bering Strait. Not only that, but Columbus made four trips to the New World,was arrested in his own colony and sent back to Spain in disgrace. His fourth and final trip brought him within 9 miles of his goal of reaching the Pacific Ocean to get to China and India, but his stubbornness and arrogance caused him to turn around. He didn't believe the nativ...
More About: Thinking , Dati
Lessons from Max
2007-10-09 16:13:00
Sometimes lessons can come from the most unusual places!I can sometimes feel a bit like trying to change the course of a river. I look around me and wonder, "am I really making progress", or "can we really make our future bully-free?" Yes, there are times that I want to give up and let it be someone elses problem.But then, something happens. What happened this time was Max. Max is our 2 year-old beagle-poodle mix-we call him our designer dog gone bad as Max was in a puppy mill waiting with his head on the chopping block. Max is one determined dog. He likes to roam. I have spent more days and more money trying to keep Max safe and in the yard. Yet Max always finds a way out. Oh, I can keep him in for a while but eventually he finds another escape hatch and I have to find out where it is and then how to patch it up so that he can't escape.You have to hand it to the dog, he just doesn't give up. There are times when I think he is smarter than I am-or maybe he is just focused on one o...
More About: Lessons
Money, Money, Money-its a rich man's world!
2007-10-08 18:52:00
I was watching Larry King interview Suzy Orman. They covered a wide range of topics from the mortgage meltdown, to consumer credit card debt and how to accumulate wealth. Larry King asked Suzy how much money did one have to have to be truly wealthy-able to live their lifestyle without touching the money. Her answer-$100 million dollars. Yes, that is right. $100 million. I remember talking with my friend Bob Grossman in the 80's about his plan to accumulate $1 million and live off of the $80k in interest. Bob did accumulate his million-but doesn't feel that 80k is enough to meet his needs.So, where does this leave those of us who haven't accumulated 1 million let alone $100 million. We used to be called the 'middle class'-the people squeezed in between the rich and the poor. We used to represent the bulk of the US population. Yet we are an endangered species. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported that the next generation of Americans will be the first generation that ...
More About: World , Money , Rich
Thursday's book on Friday!
2007-10-05 12:10:00
At the Mouth of the Luckiest River is an oldie but a goodie. The book was first published over three decades ago, but is remarkably free of negative Native American stereotypes. The book tells the story of an Athabascan Indian boy and his determination to keep the peace between his tribe and the Eskimos. The young man must confront his tribe's medicine man-one of the most powerful members of the tribe-to stand up for what he believes is right.This book may be a bit hard to find, but like many classics is worth the effort.Have a good weekend.With respect,Deb
More About: Book , Friday
Ethnic Role Models-the Reprise!
2007-10-03 14:39:00
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the importance of ethic role models for children by relating how my daughter responded to receiving a doll-Wan Ling. Some people thought that it was a shame that my daughter's self-esteem was buoyed by a look-alike doll and not from her inner strength-or my parenting! In response to one of the poll questions, one person wrote about a friend who's nephew has down syndrome child:I think not seeing images of kids like himself--I think this also goes for physically challenged --in movies, cartoons, and especially animated movies (his favorite) really does a disservice to him and other children who are only use to seeing images that look like only like themselves.But perhaps the most important comment came from an astute 12 year old girl who joined her family from China via adoption from China. Melody was responding to the comments made about American Girl's new "Asian" doll, Ivy Ling-a sidekick to another American Girl doll named Julie:My Mom bo...
More About: Models , Ethnic , Role , Reprise
The Saga of the Olympic Torch-Should Jenny withdraw?
2007-10-02 14:44:00
Yesterday, I voted for Jenny Bowen, the founder of Half the Sky-an organization dedicated to making the lives of children living in orphanages better-to carry the Olympic Torch .Jenny, an American, lives and works in Beijing. She said she will run with eight Chinese children who are orphans.On many levels this is a wonderful thing-it raises awareness for the kids who are left behind in China's orphanages, the publicity could help Half the Sky raise money which could help more children, its a great image of international co-operation and it is great showcase for adoption.Today, I read some of the comments on the site. There are some people that think Jenny is 'cheating'. They question how she could have gotten so many votes in a short period of time. Indeed, her votes nearly doubled in less than 24 hours and it appears she is closing in on the leader.This is a perfect example of the power of the internet-adoption groups-representing thousands of families formed via adoption-all...
More About: The O , Saga
Mid-Autumn Moon Festival and the Olympic Torch Relay!
2007-10-01 13:52:00
Please take a minute and vote for Jenny Bowan to carry the Olympic Torch in Beijing. Jenny is the founder of the Half the Sky Foundation which is dedicated to the children in China that are still in orphanages. The program has done some incredible things-increased the number of foster parents, improved orphanage conditions dramatically, provided education and medical care. In short, this organization is performing miracles. We would love to see Jenny represent the orphans of China-usually girls. They are a group that is often forgotten. Please vote for Jenny today-and pass this onto anyone you think might be interested.Vote here:http://pub1.chinadaily.com.cn/olympi cs/torch/members.shtml?mid=212Good Monday morning and welcome to October. October is a busy month-the Supreme Court begins its sessions today, harvest festivals begin popping up all over the country,kids gear up for Halloween-second only to Christmas in terms of retail sales.Beijing is choosing their Olympic torch bearer a...
More About: Moon , Festival , Autumn , The O
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