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Encouraging Diversity & Differing of Opinions in a Family by Sherri Rosen-Revised

 It feels as though this article manifested during and after one of the most hateful political presidential campaigns i’ve ever witnessed. It made me realize how much I appreciate diversity and differing opinions.  It also made me realize how much respect I have for differences.

When I say “Encourage Diversity and Differing Opinions In A Family” I’m also saying it’s not easy.

In the biological family I grew up in differences were NOT encouraged. I began to dress differently and think differently. As a result I was ostracized from my family and began to feel I was in the wrong family. My mum and sister tried to physically beat out the differences within me. It was a very intense time for me growing up in Lynn, Mass and my formation as a healthy adult didn’t come right away. I had years of therapy, 2 years living at a Buddhist Retreat Center, and I worked with some incredible healers. 

When I was young I didn’t have a clue about living a life of diversity, but one thing that began to highlight it for me was when my dad, who owned shoe factories in New England, would take me around to meet the factory workers, stop and talk to them, seeing the light shine in the workers eyes when my dad would listen to them respectfully and also introduce me to them.  The workers would tell me how much they loved my dad.  Also one Christmas a physically challenged man named “Tiny” who weighed 300 lbs and one of the factory workers for my dad, gifted my dad with a lamp he made for him, and my dad made the man feel terrific in the way he accepted the man’s gift.  Unfortunately my dad didn’t have a clue what a gift he had and either did the rest of the family. But I was fortunate enough to take it in.

 Through all that i went through I became a healer myself, studying for 3 years with a healing modality called Somatic Experiencing  which is healing any kind of trauma and Plant Spirit Healing—needle less acupuncture— breaking up energy blocks, and also studying and becoming an Interfaith Minister. With all of the inner work that I’ve done I also realized that it was very important to give back. So with my healing work, and having my own business as a publicist, I’ve manifested putting out good things in the world.  

In my own immediate family it hasn’t been easy, but, I will never cut off from anyone in my family who doesn’t agree with me. It’s stifling in a family where everyone thinks and acts the same. Again I’m saying it’s challenging to encourage diversity and differing opinions. But if someone in the family has racist or anti-semitic feelings that’s a whole different situation. That kind of difference of opinion isn’t tolerated by me.  And I have to remember that my own family may not agree with me but respect for one another’s opinions is most important.

In your own family whether raising children or living with your family I advise you that you must appreciate differing opinions either from your children, your mum and dad, your mate et al.  If you don’t you are sending a message to all in your family and yourself that it’s not okay to think differently than other people you know.  This makes your world and theirs very small.  When children are very young is the greatest opportunity by action in showing  them it’s great to live a diversified life—in the friends you have, respecting differing opinions, in the neighborhood you live in.  Now is the time more than ever we need to appreciate diversity otherwise how can we grow.  If a way of thinking is forced upon children they might rebel and go completely in the opposite direction. Another wonderful way to show children diversity is to take them to different places of worship and allow them to experience the differences in places of worship.  Just because you are raised one way doesn’t mean you have to go in the same direction as the rest of the family.  Try to talk to the family, your child, your mate about appreciating differences.

In my family growing up, when I spoke my truth, I was made to feel that I was crazy by members of my family always telling me that what I saw didn’t happen. One time when I had the courage to tell my dad, who weekly was out of town, that my mum had beaten me, he said to me “you probably deserved it”. I never shared anything with him again. Sometimes I get scared if someone has a differing opinion. Probably brings me back to my family of origin, but that doesn’t mean I want to obliterate them or cut them off. I truly know the message of not being accepted in a family, and I don’t want to do that in my own family.   

If you are having a similar situation and you want to breakout from your family mold.  First, find like minded people and try not to ask for permission from your family to be different than they are. If they want the same type of people in the family as they are, and you are completely different, perhaps going into therapy or finding a coach, or even a 12 step program can help you break out of the mold.  These supports will help you if you deal with any kind of criticism.  Each family system has folks within it that play different roles, and if you want out of the system, the family may find another person to replace your role in the family.  Hopefully you are in a family that will support you in your changes even though they may not understand you.

I grew up in a family that was Jewish and I experienced anti-semitism in New England.  Even though I had an unhappy experience,  I didn’t feel my children only had to be with Jewish kids. I encouraged them to be with all kinds of cultures.  The reason I did this is I felt their lives would be much more expansive by experiencing different cultures. One of the reasons I love NYC and my neighborhood in Harlem is there is so much diversity. No where in the world have I experienced a coming together like I do in NYC. Sure there are problems, but I will take NYC anytime. Part of the time my children grew up in a great neighborhood in Queens, Forest Hills, which was predominantly Jewish, and when I divorced their father and eventually was in a new relationship the entire family moved to Cobble Hill in Brooklyn. At the time we moved there the community was still diverse, so it was a great education for my children.  While there an incident did happen to them of anti-semitism on our block where some of the kids called my kids “a dirty Jew.” I quickly went to one of our neighbors in the building we lived in, who was considered the “godfather” of the block, his name was Louie, and I told him what happened, and he said to me “Sherri this will never happen again” and it never did.  I wish my parents had protected  me like I did my children when I experienced anti-semitism. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for you if you are a parent to make your child or children feel safe in the home, and by taking action to protect your children, it’s a gift that will stay with them and you for the rest of their lives.

This may sound strange, but I feel safer in NYC than anytime I’ve gone out of NYC to other parts of the USA. It’s not a good feeling when I step outside of NYC. I’m not saying with everyone, but with a lot of folks out of town, they don’t like differences. They want people in their lives just like them. I feel in NYC no one cares if I look different, dress differently, have an open attitude about many things.  As a matter of fact, during these challenging times, NYC is considered a “safe city” meaning if anyone needs to move because they feel their life is threatened by all of the hatred NYC is one place where they will be welcomed.

 I lived in NJ for a few years after arriving back from Vermont living at a Buddhist Retreat Center for 2 years. Moving back, I realized NYC was too much for me and I had to get used to being back within society. With the time I lived in NJ I felt as though folks were being polite but I wasn’t welcomed by them. There was also a sign when you entered the town that was against abortion, and a gun shop down the street. Oy! My friend in NJ had just come back from a few years living in San Francisco and her daughter, who I also loved, lived downstairs, and their family owned a house that had 4 apartments and I took one. It was a good impetus for me to live with them for a few years even though the town was so conservative. A few years later I moved back to NYC, which most people in the town didn’t understand. To them “no one moved back to NYC. It was a step up living in New Jersey.  While living in NJ my boyfriend moved in with me and he happened to be a man of color.  I was worried about him being picked up by the police because he worked at the post office and came home late, sometimes falling asleep in the car in front of our house.  But to my surprise they never gave him a problem.  It was me that was harassed by the police.  

It’s a lot to ask of people to accept differences. Many people are terrified of differences, but just the thing we are most scared of can be a way to transform. I say try to go beyond your fear. Appreciate your own differences and perhaps you will begin to appreciate the differences in others.  It won’t happen overnight, but be patient and compassionate with yourself and others.

When facing your biggest fear and failing--keep on going until you get it right!

When facing your biggest fear and failing–keep on going until you get it right!



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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 30th, 2016 at 8:31 am and is filed under African American, Clients, Friends and Colleagues. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Encouraging Diversity & Differing of Opinions in a Family by Sherri Rosen-Revised”

  1. Culver City Chiropractor Says:

    Culver City Chiropractor

    Encouraging Diversity & Differing of Opinions in a Family by Sherri Rosen-Revised – Sherri Rosen Publicity – New York City

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