Raising Culturally Sensitive Children

If you are going to take your children to places where they will be exposed to different cultures, you need to prepare them. Whenever I run into Americans that are visiting Europe I get excited, but there are certain things that Americans do that break my heart. With a little bit more education on a parent’s part, we could take several steps toward killing cultural arrogance and ignorance. I hope that is a goal you have for your family. It is definitely a priority in our family. I am really open to your opinions on this topic, and I would love to do a follow up article with everyone’s input. Here are just a few things we can teach our kids (and learn ourselves) about how to be more culturally sensitive, especially when we travel.

Raising Culturally Sensitive Children

The Bright Side

There are aspects to every culture that we will see as negative and positive. Instead of constantly pointing out the negative things, encourage your children to look for the positive things that they see and learn in the culture you are visiting. Maybe it’s the culture’s sense of community that impresses you, or their dedication to wearing bright colors. If you lead by example and avoid complaining, your children will notice that. If you tell them not to complain while you are constantly complaining they won’t listen. It’s like any other principle of parenting, if you tell them to do something and then do something else, eventually they will come to resent that rule, even if it is a good one.

New Culinary Adventures

Don’t assume you know anything about the local dishes. Do some research, and prepare to be surprised. Looking at a plate of bright red paprika spiced sausage will not prepare you for how delicious it is. In fact, looks can often be deceiving. Be adventurous, and again, teach your children not to complain publicly about food. That is a good rule anyway, because at some point you will eat with your children outside of your house, and you don’t want them to seem ungrateful. Let me rephrase that, you want to raise them to be grateful, even if they don’t appreciate the way something tastes, smells, or looks. One time at a private dinner where our family were the guests of honor, I looked down and my plate of food was looking back at me, literally. I had been served the face of the lamb that was to be our dinner, and the eye was still in place. In the US, most of us are not connected to how our food gets on our plates. We don’t slaughter our own meat, so we forget that the animals we eat at one point had a face and eye balls. But the face meat on the lamb was delicious. I would eat it again. No I didn’t eat the eye ball, even though some consider that good luck. My kids definitely noticed the eye ball, but apparently our hard work is paying off because not one of them commented about how gross or weird it was to have one on my plate. Is complaining about being given an animal’s entire face on your plate considered rude? Yes, absolutely. Don’t do it.

Teach Them Why

The teaching process is long. We are constantly spending time explaining things to our children, and if you want to raise culturally sensitive children in this angry world, you must also spend time explaining to them how and why. As foreigners living in a place that is not our own culture, we are constantly having conversations about how and why we do things. My younger kids don’t ask questions about these kinds of cultural differences where we live now, but when we are back in the US, they ask questions constantly. My oldest remembers what it is like to live in the US and sometimes she has questions about why we do certain things certain ways in Greece. These conversations are worth having because they not only inform your children, but they shape the kind of adults they will become. If you teach your children to be curious instead of condemning, their whole outlook on life will change. Maybe you don’t like deep fried spider on a stick, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to eat. Maybe you don’t agree that your child will catch a serious cold if they don’t wear industrial boots on the first day of winter, that doesn’t mean that the other person is wrong in their opinions. This whole idea of right and wrong when it comes to culture creates unnecessary division.

A New Normal

Next time you are tempted to turn away in disgust when someone offers you a plate of food that appears strange to you, or they give you advice you have never heard before, stay polite. Don’t roll your eyes or look away in disgust. You wouldn’t want someone responding to you that way, would you? It’s common courtesy that isn’t all common any more.

What do you think? What are some cultural differences that have been difficult for you to address with your children? Is it your goal to raise culturally sensitive children? Why or why not?

Happy travels,

Kristin

When Is My Child Old Enough To Pack By Themself?

When Is My Child Old Enough To Pack By Themselves

When Is My Child Old Enough To Pack By Themself?

I don’t think there is any one right answer that fits all children, but I will give you the answer that has worked for my family. We are transitioning out of the baby days, and my kids want to do a lot more without mommy and daddy’s help. So when we announced a 3 day vacation to Kalamata (one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen) the first question my girls asked was, “Can we pack our own bags?!” They are currently 8 and 6 years old.

I thought about it for a moment. The last time they asked me this question, I let them do it, and then I had to repack everything. They disappointed that mommy dared to undo all of their careful, mismatching and weather inappropriate work. This time, I had a flash of inspiration. My oldest can read in English now! I realized. So I made a specific list of the things they needed to pack. It worked out wonderfully.

So here is what I would say if you asked me how old your child needs to be before they can pack by themselves. If they can read and follow the instructions on the list, they can pack.

We are going away for three nights. Here is what the list for each girl looked like:

What To Pack

-5 pairs of underwear

-2 tank tops

-1 tee shirt

-2 pairs of shorts

-1 dress

-1 swim suit

-2 sets of pajamas

-2 pairs of socks

-2 books and a few small toys

We are going to a beach city, so why would my kids need socks? Always bring socks! You never know when a blister is going to pop up, and they always seem to wait to appear until you are on vacation. I suspect that it has to do with the constant walking we do when we are in a new place. We want to experience everything, and the best way to do that is to walk. It may take up a little extra room in our backpacks, but we always make sure to have a pair of normal shoes in addition to our sandals.

I hope you get a chance to get away this summer (if you haven’t already) and enjoy some quality family down time.

Happy Travels,

Kristin

When do you start letting your children pack on their own?

Flying With Children

As of this year I have been traveling with children for over 6 years. It doesn’t seem like that much time could have possibly passed, but I guess having an 8 year old proves that it did. Looking back I can remember all the major incidents, but I’m glad that I took the time to write down the smaller ones and which things really helped me along the way. As I was wandering around Pinterest.com today, I noticed that I don’t actually have a post where all of my posts about flying with children are listed. So here it is – a list of all the posts I’ve written about flying with little ones.

Flying with children

 

Flying With Children

How I Roll

Air Friendly Car Seat

Traveling With A Newborn or Infant By Plane

Flying With A 2 Year Old

Flying With A Forward Facing Car Seat

Flying with children

Packing 101: How To Pack A Suitcase Efficiently

Waiting At The Airport: Time & Money

The Seat Swap

Searching For Airplane Tickets Online

Infant Flies Out of Parent’s Arms in Turbulent Flight

flying with children

A Suitcase You Can Ride!

What Should I Pack In My Carry On Luggage?

Dealing With Jet Lag

flying with children

Dear Jet Lag, I Hate You

Flying In Bad Weather

How to Spot Human Trafficking Victims at the Airport

 

Taking Small Children to Disneyland

I have been wanting to write an article about this for a long time, but it was only recently that I was able to go to Disneyland with all three of my children. We went for my husband’s birthday during August. It was amazing! There were a lot of new things I hadn’t seen or experienced yet, and my five year old was definitely in a state of wonder. I could go on and on about every fun thing we did, but the point of this post is to help you do as much as you can during your Disney day without causing the small members of your family to have a mental breakdown. So join me in my journey today as we discuss taking small children to Disneyland, California.

Pick a Park

There are two separate amusement parks, Disneyland and California Adventure. There are amazing things to do at both parks, but there is no way you can do everything in both parks in one day. One of the best ways to check out the parks is to visit Disneyland’s official website here. If you are headed on a family vacation just to go to these parks I recommend the 7 Day Park Hopper passes. They are the best value and you will have plenty of time to do everything in both parks. If you don’t have 7 days, then I would go with the 3-Day Park Hopper. If you are only going for one day, pick one park.

Inside California Adventure.
Inside California Adventure.

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Dealing with Head Lice

Though I believe this post contains useful information, please also make sure to read this updated post with better lice treatment options. Now back to the original post. 24 October 2016

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One of the most dreadful things that could happen when you are traveling with your children (or just plain living with them) is that your kids get head lice. Up until this last week I had never experienced taking care of children with lice, only having lice myself as a kid. I was very blessed to be staying with my Mother-in-law when this whole thing started. The day she discovered them my husband was having a medical procedure done so she shooed me out the door and started the delousing process (louse is the singular of lice, in case you were curious). Three weeks later I am still dealing with these persistent little stinkers, but I have definitely learned a few lessons along the way. So here you go, important things you need to know about lice.

Children Head Lice

You will definitely know them when you see them.

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