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Where Did We Come From: Sharing Cultural Heritage With Teens

Most American families share a wide variety of cultural backgrounds.  These backgrounds give our teens a sense of who they are and where they are going.  That is why it is so important that we celebrate our families' histories in our daily lives.

Unfortunately, there is a tendency in modern America to denigrate certain cultures as somehow second rate.  Instead of honoring the people from many lands who have made us what we are, we sometimes hammer away at past misdeeds as if in constant need of assigning ourselves penance for deeds we didn't commit.

As you teach your teens about their heritage, keep in mind that every culture has much to be proud of and much it can be ashamed of.  Every society that has ever existed has its share of great men and genocidal maniacs.  That is why no culture can claim any moral superiority over another.  Make sure your teen understands that his family has contributed just as much to the American melting pot as anyone else's.

Also, remind your teen that he is not responsible for the mistakes of his ancestors.  There is a tendency in America today try to make people feel responsible for the misdeeds of the forefathers.  Obviously there is no way that your teen or any other person should be held responsible for something he did not do.

Having said all this, tell your teen the stories of your family.  Celebrate your traditions and the reasons behind them.  Help your teen to see his heritage as a great asset that he wants to pass down to his own children.  It is in this way that America becomes much more than a melting pot, but a national quilt, made up of individual pieces sewn together by our common belief in freedom and human dignity.

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