Can children be truly “colorblind”? Should they be?

Children enter this world with very few notions about the differences that exist between themselves and their peers. As they grow older they begin to notice the visual differences between themselves and those around them. They notice the similarities as well. Eventually, like it or not, children will point out the differences that they see. As adults, who have internalized the social norms (some may call it etiquette), we cringe when our children blurt out,while pointing “look at how funny looking she is!”

As children enter school and have peers of various sizes, genders, colors, etc. they will begin to create categories for them. Meanwhile, many parents are at home desperately trying to teach our children to overlook things like the color of someone’s skin, or the shape of their eyes. In an effort to raise “colorblind” children many parents will completely ignore that differences exist among people.

This is a crucial mistake. Trying to teach our children to ignore human differences causes us to forfeit a chance to have a conversation about accepting others as they are. Children need to create categories for people to fit into. This is how they organize their world and the information around them. Parents can honor this human tendency and still teach their children about important concepts such as tolerance and justice. It is fine (and necessary) to acknowledge differences in gender, race, culture, religion, etc. as long as we are having conversations with our children about how beautiful our differences are in an accepting and tolerant manner.

Giving our children the skills to talk about and ask questions about the variations in humanity gives them the language and skills to inform and communicate with ALL people as they mature. Society could truly benefit from more discourse that leads to sharing and understanding of others.