Today, with the United Nations, we celebrate the International Day of Family. A day dedicated to the social protection of vulnerable families so that they may enjoy full inclusion in mainstream society. These are the migrant families, ethnic minorities and families that include those with disabilities.
We have work to do as a society and sometimes it just feels too overwhelming to think we could actually make a difference but as parents raising the next generation of thought leaders - we can! We must lead by example and teach our kids while they are young about the importance of inclusion, equality, empathy, and advocacy.
To help us navigate this sometimes vague subject, we reached out to our dear friend Stephanie Hamilton. (pictured above) She is a photographer, mindfulness trainer and huge advocate of inclusion. She is also the founder of www.iammostextrodinary.com which is completely dedicated to educating, advocating, and mainstreaming beauty in difference. It is an inspiring body of work. Basically, she embodies what Dumyé would call Karmic Goodness®.
Below Stephanie shares her personal story and gives us 5 suggestions on how we can foster an attitude of tolerance and inclusion in our children.
By Stephanie Hamilton
Inclusion is a topic that is near and dear to my heart for many reasons. Having a daughter with Down Syndrome might be the obvious answer as to why this topic fuels me to bring awareness when and where I can. Yes, that might be the obvious answer, but having recently had time to do some soul searching, I discovered that this might just be a story I’ve been telling myself since the day she was born. Being a mother to 3 beautiful girls, I can honestly say that inclusion runs far deeper than the world of children with obvious differences, because THAT is exactly the point.
One could argue that yes, while we’re all different, there are some children who stand to be more vulnerable due to their different needs and abilities. I think this is certainly a valid point, because in my experience, I have definitely had to fight harder for the same rights my other daughters unknowingly have with ease. I would certainly support this argument, but I would also add that perhaps there are many instances that my other daughters have experienced inequality, or have not felt accepted.
Is it possible that we’ve accepted that not everyone is going to like us, and that not every situation will be deemed as fair? I think this is a fair statement and is really a part of life and the human experience. We can’t control our world around us, but as parents, we do have the ability to shape the way our kids view the outside world.
What is the difference between acceptance, tolerance and inclusion? How can we raise our kids to foster these attitudes without compromising boundaries and their own sense of self?