Majority Rules

People of mixed racesThis post was inspired by Ronit’s diversity education, by our family’s life in several countries around the world, by Eden’s recent foray into academic research, by our many dealings with people of different communication styles, bust mostly by my occasional frustration of being a minority…

Having grown up in one place for 28 years and then moved to another country, Ronit and I had to change many basic assumptions about what everyone knows, how everyone thinks and what everyone expects. It is called Culture Shock. We already knew quite a bit about the United States (I had even been an exchange student there), so the change did not shock us, but boy was it different.

Now imagine going from that to Thailand! Hardly any English, driving on the left, completely different social norms and ethics, hot, humid, rainy, full of mosquitoes… What everyone did in Thailand was very different to what everyone did in Texas.

The thing is, in each one of these places, people who had grown up there and had never been anywhere else could not perceive anything other than what they had been accustomed to. To them, “everyone” was everyone they knew and that was good enough.

Read more about why you should be more accepting


Are We There Yet?

The Baras familyMany parents, when they think of traveling with their kids, immediately hear this whine in their mind, coming from the back seat of the car, “Are we there yet?” I have seen similar scenes in way too many movies too. Being in the car with bored kids is possibly one of the most common fears parents have, which causes many of them to avoid traveling with their children.

How horrible.

Another thing that is now very common is the use of electronic gadgets to pacify kids and keep them occupied on the way to interesting places, because of the fear of what they might do if they get bored. Watching a DVD or listening to music, often each person separately listening with headphones, seem like good ways to “have some peace and quiet”.

Again, how horrible.

Ronit and I have just returned from a week away with our kids. It is now winter in Brisbane, with temperatures below our enjoyment threshold, so we decided to go to Port Douglas, which is in the tropical region of Australia. We were hoping for nice, warm weather. Instead, the sky was overcast, it rained lightly on most days and the temperatures we pretty mild. But we had a ball anyway.

Read more about how to travel with children

Handy Family Tips (8): Treasure box

Treasure boxIn most home, space is a very limited resource. We all wish our house was half empty with only what we need. Every time our family moves (and I have moved 27 times already), we discover how much we have accumulated. 17 years ago, Gal and I moved to another country with 3 suitcases, 2 boxes and a little girl. Today, we would probably need a 40-foot high-cube container.

Accumulating things is part of life. We accumulate things because we think we might use them (later) or because they have some sentimental value. Just a while ago, I wrote about how hard it is to get rid of kids’ artwork to clear valuable space for new creations. Taking digital photos of many of our things can be one solution to saving space, but there are always things that we cannot throw away as parents, or that our kids, partners or other family members need to decide what to do with them.

When I was 16, I made myself a treasure box and put all my treasures in it – cards I had received from people, special show tickets, photos and awards I had won. Having that box, which I made out of a shoebox, was a great way for me to monitor what I was keeping and what I was not. The space in the box was limited, so I could not keep everything.

Read more about how to store good memories