Children cannot be culturally insensitive

Posted: Oct. 8, 2019 2:57 pm Updated: Oct. 8, 2019 3:06 pm

I'm going to make a statement and you may disagree but I feel as we approach Halloween, it may be very relevant:  Children cannot be culturally insensitive because they have no concept of culture or history.

I mean other than their own. I love it when an 8 year old tells me 'When I was little....'. Now that's some history right there.  

I suppose they could be labeled 'insensitive' but that is the nature of children. They have an inner dialogue that is impossible to filter and its very hard for them to process their own feelings, let alone yours. They speak their minds and live their lives unconcerned with how their behavior is being perceived.  If they dress up like anyone of another culture, it's because they have seen them in a movie or a book and not because they are trying to make any sort of negative statement.  One day they are a princess, the next a cowboy. Luckily, both of these people are impossible to offended.  

The second a kid dresses as an Indian though, they are culturally insensitive, and so are you for allowing it.  

Right. Let's just get one thing straight;Today we went to school in socks pulled up to knees over leggings with a skirt and a t-shirt that didn't match, a side pony that was falling out in the back and a bike helmet that leans to one side. I didn't do anything. You don't see any colorblind nerds getting offended.  

Kids want to try everything and be a lot of different things, possibly all at once. Sometimes it's a cat-fairy demanding ice cream for breakfast. I mean, that's not gonna fly but keep trying. I don't feel like it's necessary to unpack a history they are not ready for. It's totally unnecessary to share all the messy details of life with people who can't figure out how Santa gets down the chimney.    

One of my kids put one of those bandanas on that can cover the whole head and neck and it kind of looked like Hijab (Islamic headscarf). It was blue paisley and went nice with the multitude of other colors she was wearing. She thought it was great with no clue what she looked like. Then, one of the much older children told her that it was culturally offensive. I personally thought it looked more like a Russian babushka if I'm being honest but I'm not sure if that would have been more or less offensive to her fellow eight year olds. She took it off completely confused as to why she wasn't killing it on the runway of life. That's when I was hit with the thought 'This is ridiculous.'  

We are so sensitive to not offend anyone these days that we are ruining childhood. There I said it!

With all actions, I feel like it's an issue of the heart and children dressing up are never the problem. We should be encouraging them to experience everything, especially cultures and people that are different from what they are used to. Maybe this is a gateway to acceptance rather than judgement and we are the insensitive people holding them back. 

Erring on the side of caution, I apologize if any of this has offended you.

Jen Reekie was born and raised in Quincy and received a communications degree at the University of Kansas, which has come in quite handy as she communicates every day with four children who don't hear a word she says. This stay-at-home mom enjoys the challenge, though, and shares her experiences in this blog, "Mum's the Word." She welcomes your feedback, questions and stories about staying sane while raising kids.