One of the most significant memories I have happened when I was on a mission trip to Amsterdam in 2003. During one of our morning group sessions, we were challenged to write down the names of the countries of all the people we had talked to throughout the week. Like many large cities, Amsterdam is swarming with people from all around the world.
After we went around the circle, the total number that the team had talked to far exceeded 100 countries. It was an inspiring revelation to me in that moment that God was the God of all nations.
Fast forward 8 years. Here I am, married with two kids, reminiscing about a time where I felt God showed me something important about his character: He celebrates diversity.
How does that fit into my situation right now? Diversity matters to our family.
Most know (or at least can see from our picture) that my wife and I comes from different ethnic backgrounds. I am half-Dutch, half-Spanish; she is half-African-American, half-Filipino. Thus, our children fit perfectly as spokespeople for the United Colors of Benetton. In this way, we will naturally have to address diversity in our family. We know that one day our children will ask questions, so we want to embrace that even right now.
Here are five ways that we celebrate diversity with our children right now:
1. Be around different people – We want to make it a natural thing that our kids are around different people from different backgrounds. I am thankful that our campus fellowship in college laid the foundation for this so well. It was during those formative years that we learned to participate in and celebrate different cultures.
2. Never talk in absolutes – Eliminate saying things like, “All people from ____ are like this.” In an indirect way, this criticizes and denigrates. We don’t like absolutes in general, so about about we exclude them from this area as well.
3. Get rid of that negative speak – There are certain characteristics (race, physical features, etc.) that people literally have no chance of changing. We want to teach our kids that belittling people is contrary to what our family stands for.
4. Try new things – We love to do new things in general, so I’m grateful this is a natural part of our family functions. We want to participate in new activities, try new foods, and go new places. Our hope is that this will spark curiosity in our children, and let them see first hand that the world is a really big place.
5. Look forward to adoption – Jen and I are certain that the Lord has placed adoption on our hearts as a way to expand our family. As we begin to talk about the subject with our kids in the future, we want them to know that he/she will be a celebrated addition to our family.
In no ways are we/I perfect in this area. Even as the father of a mixed family, I am still learning how to lead in this area. I would love to hear your thoughts. Let’s learn together!