parents

Kids need more diverse role models on TV. This is why.

hi-5 house
Jo’s dad might ask you what your nationality is, but either way he will offer you a coffee.

Raising healthy, well-rounded children can be a challenge in the modern world, particularly in my family. My parents are very Italian, despite having lived in Australia for most of their lives, and for anyone whose parents are very-their-particular-nationality, you’ll know what I mean.

It means that whenever my dad meets new people, after he asks what your name is his next question is always, ‘what nationality are you?’ or ‘where are your parents from?’

For my father there are only a few nationalities he is interested in discussing – Italian, Greek, Lebanese, Maltese, Spanish and then everyone else is in the ‘other’ category. As in my dad knows nothing about their country and therefore doesn’t have much to say, but he will still offer you coffee.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Eleven Kids. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

hi-5 house
Jo first felt she had to protect her children from racist and bigoted views.
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Sadly, there are friends and family members who take it a step too far. They openly make fun of nationalities in front of my children and they speak negatively about different life choices. At first, I thought I had to protect my children from racist and bigoted views but now I see these friends and family members as a gift because they reflect beliefs my children will eventually be exposed to in everyday life. Hearing different views early in life is a valuable opportunity to discuss these beliefs and issues. Just because someone my children loves has a particular view of a certain race or life choice, doesn’t mean they should allow themselves to be influenced by it.

The lesson being – loving someone doesn’t mean agreeing with all their views.

It’s a conversation that I have started early with my children and one that won’t end until diversity is celebrated and embraced, in all its forms.

It doesn’t help that Australian television does little to reflect the diversity we see in our lives. It doesn’t help that ethnic comedy (while successfully hilarious) is still such a point of difference. Australia is filled with different ethnicities and so what. Isn’t it normal yet?

I want my children to see people, not nationalities or skin colour or facial differences.

I want them to see people, not sexual orientations.

I want my children to see people, not just their achievements.

I want my children to see people, not just the things they say but how they choose to live.

I want my children to see people, not their disabilities or disfigurements.

hi-5 house
The new cast of Hi-5 reflects diversity.
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When it comes to role models for my children, I don’t need to look at just gossip pages or sports fields, although celebrities can be a great way to start conversations with your children about human nature. My children will see diversity on shows like Hi-5 (which has just debuted on Channel Eleven and has presenters who are Lebanese, Korean and Greek amongst other ethnicities) and shows that reflect diversity are definitely top picks in my house but sadly not many TV shows reflect similar diversity and that’s a shame. I also used to love watching Balamory with the kids because Penny Pocket was in a wheelchair and after a while she was just Penny Pocket, not Penny Pocket in a wheelchair.

The beauty of living in Australia is that we are surrounded by diverse nationalities, religions and lifestyles. I’m reluctant to teach my children to idealise sporting personalities because, well, you know why, although if you pick the right sport you’ll see diversity.

I don’t tell my children that the gay couple in Modern Family are brothers, like some of my friends do. I don’t let my children make fun of any particular nationalities, even if they think it is funny. I don’t try and shield my children from racism and bigotry, even though I wish it never existed.

I expose my children to everything, good and bad, and navigate them into being the kind of people who will do well in the future of my dreams, one where we are all different, we are all unique, we are all celebrated and we are all accepted.

How do you discuss diversity with your children?

Eleven-Logo_Colour_Pantone-2603-PCBeloved children’s entertainment group Hi-5 are returning to free-to-air television, with their latest series Hi-5 House premiering on Channel Eleven on Monday, February 24, at 9am.

With a new name, new set and new format, Hi-5 House is the “home” in which all five cast members live with their loveable puppet friends, Chats and Jup Jup.

In the house they each have their own special pod, which comes to life with all the fun, singing and dancing that Hi-5 are renowned for.

The Hi-5 cast includes two favourites viewers are sure to recognise: Stevie and Lauren. Adding to the Hi-5 family are three new bright talents: Dayen, Ainsley and Mary. 

Hi-5 House will also be available on tenplay Kids, a dedicated digital hub just for kids featuring on-demand video, extra content, and activity sheets that can be engaged with anytime, anywhere at tenplay.com.au/kids and via the tenplay app for iPhone and iPad.

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