Saturday, June 22, 2013

A gift for my daughter

Welcome to the July 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning About Diversity
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by
Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they teach their children to embrace and respect the variety of people and cultures that surround us. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I am a Special Education Teacher for students with multiple exceptionalities.  Some have Autism, some have Down's Syndrome, others have CP and some are developmentally delayed.  I NEVER thought I would enter this field of teaching - however I love my job and couldn't imagine doing anything else with my life.

Growing up I wasn't brought up to respect people with disabilities.  My mother told me once, that 'Mongoloids' as she called them, should be all put in a home never to bother society.  (She told us this after we moved into a new house where our neighbour had D.S).   I grew up thinking that people with disabilities were not to be respected and shouldn't be talked to.

After I graduated teacher's college, my friends were getting their special education qualifications, I can be quoted saying "I'm NEVER going to get my special education qualifications because I NEVER want to be in the position to teach THOSE kids".

However, 10 years later, I have my specialist in Special Education and I value, respect and learn from my students every single day.

It was a long road for me to become good at what I do and value what I do.  I was embarrassed at my job at first, thinking people would think less of me because of the kinds of kids I teach.  This wasn't because people judge, it was left-over feelings from growing up.  I never want my daughter to think the thoughts I have had.  I believe it is crucial to teach students about diversity and inclusion.  My daughter will be raised knowing people come in all shapes and sizes and have different skills and talents.  She will come and see talent shows put on by my students, come to dances and learn the names and faces of all my students.  She will see the beauty in almond shape eyes, a lot sooner than I did.  Her life will be enriched by knowing someone with Autism and knowing how amazing they are.  It took me a long time to realize how much my life can be enriched by opening my heart to those with different exceptionalities.  My daughter wont have to wait that long.

By opening her life to the amazing gifts people with Down Syndrome, Autism, CP and other exceptionalities will bring to her, she will be able to pave the way for inclusion at her school.  She will accept the little girl with Down Syndrome in her class.  She will not tolerate classmates laughing at the boy with Autism who is having a difficult time.  She will be able to help educate her peers on the amazing qualities these students possess so that they have a better space at her school.  As she gets older, she will sit next to the person with Down Syndrome on the bus and wont be offended if he or she starts talking to her.  She will open her heart to them and treat them with kindness, dignity and respect.  Something I wish I had done when I was younger but am ashamed to say I didn't.

I know you can't force relationships, but you can educate.  By educating my daughter and from her hearing stories - both good and bad - about my job, she will learn to treat everyone with respect.  She wont have to learn the hard way, like I had to.  It will be a natural part of her life, just like eating and drinking.  As much as I can't change the first 27 years of my life, I can make a difference through hers.  I am proud at what I do now.  My pride and my expertise will pave the way for not only her, but all those she touches.  I am excited to include her with my students and have her learn from them just as I do.
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon July 9 with all the carnival links.)
  • A gift for my daugther — Amanda, a special education teacher for students with multiple exceptionalities, discusses at My Life in a Nutshell how she will enrich her daughter's life by educating her the amazing gifts her students will bring to the world.  
  • The Beauty in Our Differences — Meegs at A New Day writes about her discussions with her daughter about how accepting ourselves and those around us, with all our beautiful differences and similarities, makes the world a better place.
  • Accepting Acceptance and Tolerating Tolerance — Destany at They Are All of Me examines the origins of and reasons behind present day social conformity.
  • Differencessustainablemum discusses what she feels to be the important skills for embracing diversity in her family home.
  • Turning Japanese — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different shares how she teaches her kiddos about Japanese culture, and offers ideas about "semi immersion" language learning.
  • Celebrating Diversity at the International House Cottages — Mommy at Playing for Peace discovers the cultures of the world with her family at local cultural festivals
  • Learning About Diversity by Honoring Your Child’s Multiple Heritages — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of truly knowing your roots and heritage and how to help children honor their multiple heritages.
  • People.  PEOPLE! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is trying to teach her children to use language that reflects respect for others, even when their language doesn't seem to them to be disrespectful.
  • Call Me Clarice, I Don't Care - A True Message in Diversity — Lisa at The Squishable Baby knows that learning to understand others produces empathetic children and empathetic families.
  • Diversity of Families — Family can be much more then a blood relation. Jana at Jananas on why friends are so important for her little family of three.
  • Diverse Thoughts Tamed by Mutual Respect — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work thinks that diversity is indispensable to our vitality, but that all of our many differences require a different sort of perspective, one led by compassion and mutual respect.
  • Just Shut Up! — At Old New Legacy, Becky gives a few poignant examples in her life when listening, communication and friendship have helped her become more accepting of diversity.
  • The World is our Oyster — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot is thankful for the experiences that an expat lifestyle will provide for herself as well as for her children.
  • Children's black & white views (no pun intended … kind of) — Lauren at Hobo Mama wonders how to guide her kids past a childish me vs. them view of the world without shutting down useful conversation.
  • Raising White Kids in a Multicultural World — Leanna at All Done Monkey offers her two cents on how to raise white children to be self-confident, contributing members of a colorful world. Unity in diversity, anyone?
  • Ramadan Star and Moon Craft — Celebrate Ramadan with this star and moon craft from Stephanie at InCultureParent, made out of recycled materials, including your kid's art!
  • Race Matters: Discussing History, Discrimination, and Prejudice with Children — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy discusses how her family deals with the discrimination against others and how she and her husband are raising children who are making a difference.
  • The Difference is Me - Living as the Rainbow Generation — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is used to being the odd-one-out, but walking an alternative path with children means digging deeper, answering lots of questions and opening to more love.
  • My daughter will only know same-sex marriage as normal — Doña at Nurtured Mama realizes that the recent Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage will change the way she talks to her daughter about her own past.
  • Montessori-Inspired Respect for Diversity — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her multicultural family and shares Montessori-inspired ideas for encouraging respect for diversity.
  • EveryDay Diversity — Ana at Panda & Ananaso makes diversity a part of everyday living, focusing on raising of compassionate and respectful child.
  • Diversity as Part of Life — Even though Laura at Authentic Parenting thought she had diversity covered, she found out that some things are hard to control.
  • Inequity and Privilege — Jona is unpacking questions raised by a summit addressing inequity in breastfeeding support at Life, Intertwined.
  • 3 Ways to Teach Young Children About Diversity — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama recognizes her family's place of privilege and shares how she is teaching her little ones about diversity in their suburban community.
  • Teaching diversity: tales from public school — A former public high school teacher and current public school parent, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama values living in a diverse community.
  • 30 Ideas to Encourage Learning about Diversity While Traveling — Traveling with kids can bring any subject alive. Dionna at Code Name: Mama has come up with a variety of ways you can incorporate diversity education into your family travels (regardless of whether you homeschool). From couch surfing to transformative reading, celebrate diversity on your next trip!
  • Diversity, huh? — Jorje of Momma Jorje doesn't do anything BIG to teach about diversity; it's more about the little things.
  • Chosen and Loved — From Laura at Pug in the Kitchen: Color doesn't matter. Ethnicity doesn't matter. Love matters.
  • The One With The Bright Skin — Stefanie at Very Very Fine tries to recover from a graceless response to her son's apparent prejudice.


  1. Thank you very much for this post. When I had started brainstorming I was thinking about ethnicity, family makeups, food, etc.

    Apparently my own views need work too!

    I think that both your students and your daughter are very lucky.

  2. That's an amazing transformation, and such an inspiration for those of us (me) raised not to be very tolerant. It shows that people and mindsets can change, and we can help in the process. I love that your daughter will grow up with so much positive experience in her life!

  3. It is good to remind ourselves that while we can't change the past, we can help to shape the future. Your daughter has a wonderful role model for that. Great post.

  4. It's so beautiful to be able to raise your child without prejudice towards these children. kudos to you!


  5. What an honest and encouraging post. You have come so far from the way you were raised - it gives me hope :)

  6. This is so honest and touching. It is true that we can't help what we were taught as kids but once we know better we can teach better to our children. I was very lucky in that my mother was accepting of peoples differences and taught me to respect them. Beautiful post!

  7. What an amazing and postive experience for you. I went to school from age 5 to 11 with a child who was in a wheelchair and who had multiple disabilities, she had a profound effect on all of us with her amazing ability to be 'one of us' and we accepted her with open arms. When one of my fellow students, as a teenager, heard some kids in a class being rude about people with disabilities he gave them a telling off with such passion that they quickly shut up, I can still remember this incident and it always warms my heart.

  8. Wow..I love this. I think when most people think of teaching diversity, teaching their children to respect special needs children may not even come to mind. I love how important that is to you, and who important you are teaching your daughter it is, too. I'm also really heartened by the fact that you now teach special needs-I love that, although your Mum did not put influence on respecting people with exceptionalities, you love them, and are teaching your daughter to love them, as well. Keep up the amazing work!