The family that I grew up in was very fortunate. When my dad returned from Viet Nam, he brought a little girl he'd found there in an orphanage and she was adopted as a wonderful and welcome addition into our family. Along the way, four other siblings who are African American joined our family as well. Additionally, we have a niece and nephew who are Arabic.

Needless to say, when we get together, we are not the typical family group where everyone looks relatively the same. In teaching my children about race and ethnicity, I have had an advantage because they already know their own family members whose blood hails from all over the world. Even so, it is important for me to teach my children about the value and variety of different ethnic groups. I doing so, I have emphasized four important things.

1. Variety

One of the things that make the human race so wonderful is the great variety of people who live on our planet. There are many different countries, continents and climates that people come from. Because of these different environments and climates, people often look different; they may have varying tones of skin and eye color as well as a variety of hair styles, facial features and height. These differences are what make different races, and different individuals so unique.

2. Cultures

There is a marvelous variety of cultures in our world. Similar to the way members of different ethnic groups look on the outside, there are equally different traditions, languages and ways of thinking as well. Different groups of people have different traditions, different ways of doing things, different ways of dress, etc. I have made sure to teach my children that a person's culture and traditions are important to him or her, and though they may not do things the way we do, they are to be respected.

3. Learn about traditions and cultures

While it is important for each of us to value ourselves and our own traditions and cultures, it is a valuable skill to be able to appreciate and value other cultures and traditions. This is why it is important to learn about them, experience them and to appreciate the people who live and practice these traditions.

4. We are all human

Perhaps most importantly, I have tried hard to teach my children that different traditions, cultures and races may exist in groups all over the world, yet at the same time, we are all human. We all have worth, and we all have something positive we can contribute to this world.

A person's race or way of doing things does not make him less or better than another person. People are all different and unique no matter what part of the world they come from. And that is what it means to be a part of the human race. A family is a group of individuals where everyone is unique and special in a wonderful way.

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