This is Us: How to Help your Child when Facing Cultural Differences

I recently got sucked into a new fall show called This is Us. I am loving it so far as the tear-jerking moments tug at my heartstrings. But, the show is not just about creating sappy moments and making viewers cry. The show really hones in on topics real people struggle with, anywhere from body-image to abandonment issues. In particular, the fifth episode, titled the pool directs viewers to recent headline problems, race-related issues.

In the episode, viewers are made aware of the difficulties Randall (one of the main characters) experiences as a black man in a white suburban society. The issue is explored from his point of view as an adult and as a child. Feelings of loneliness and desire for belonging is a target area the show explores.

**spoiler alert** In the show, Randall struggles as an adopted child because he is a black boy in a white family. His childhood experiences bleeds into his adult life as he faces present day issues of race-related prejudices and microaggressions. As much as Randall’s parents wanted to take of care and protect him, he still experienced the difficulties of being different. He faced the reality of his differences everyday.

Feelings of loneliness and the desire to belong does not just affect those who are adopted.  Many people who are culturally different from their surroundings or are intermixed with different cultures struggle or face the same difficulties of belonging. It almost seems inevitable. As a parent, the big question and concern comes up is how do I help my child?  Here are 3 tips on how to help your child as they encounter issues about cultural differences.

  1. Engage: Do not sit aside and pretend there are no issues. It is important to talk about the pink elephant in the room. Have an open dialogue with your child about cultural and racial differences they may be experiencing between the family or socially outside of the family. Do not be afraid to note the obvious and explore what your child is feeling.
  2. Embracing culture: Encourage your child to explore and dig into different cultures surrounding them or with the one they identify with. Assist your child through their struggles by navigating with them. You can help your child in their search by discussing your own family’s cultural background and exposing them to other cultural norms in their own background/environment.
  3. Reassurance: It is imperative to provide support and comfort to your child as they struggle with these feelings. Often times, children will hide any form of discomfort or sadness out of fear of “bothering” or being a “burden” to the ones they love. It is important to reassure your child during their struggles or exploration. Listen, understand, and refrain from judgement. As parents, you want to fix and advise your children but sometimes the best help can be from an open and understanding ear.

You nor your child has to face these difficulties alone. Call today for a free 15 minute consultation or an appointment today with me at Life Counseling Solutions. Having outside help to guide or support your family during difficult times can be helpful to the development or growth of your child.

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Colleen headshotAbout Colleen: Colleen values the importance of a comfortable and non-judgmental atmosphere. At the heart of her work, she seeks to create a safe environment in which clients can feel at ease while working through life’s difficulties. Her specialty is working with women and adolescents struggling with anger management, trauma, and substance abuse problems. She also enjoys assisting those facing multicultural or racial issues. She is dedicated to equipping clients with practical skills to better manage and reduce symptoms such as anger outbursts, anxiety, or restlessness. Ultimately, her goal is to help clients uncover the source of their distress so that they can begin to heal. See Colleen’s full bio.