Your job as a parent is to instill your ethics and values into your children. Does that mean that you should raise your children to be intolerant of others that don’t share those same values? That’s not exactly going to win you parent of the year.
Raising children that are open minded will allow them to find a home in any community that they are in. It will teach them to be tolerant and understanding of people that are different than themselves. Teaching tolerance will allow them to have a life full of unique and diverse people rather than people that are just like them.
Living in a country like the United States, we are blessed with having a vast amount of cultures in our nation. A child doesn’t have to go very far to find someone that comes from a different background or upbringing than their own. Teach your child to celebrate that! Raising children that are open minded will help them become open minded adults.
START TEACHING RESPECT AT A YOUNG AGE
Instilling a love for diversity starts at a very young age. How many times have you had your young child ask why someone was different? (Of course it’s usually is very loudly and when the other person is within earshot) This is a perfect time to talk about how and why people are different and how awesome that is! Teach them that differences are to be celebrated not scorned.
It’s interesting to see people that have a different religion or hometown than me. I can learn about their culture. It’s fun. ~Keiran age 13
Have open, honest discussions with your children about the differences they will find in people, whether it may be skin color, customs, relgious beliefs, or even relationship status. Be ready to answer some uncomfortable questions. Just think before you answer, and answer truthfully. Trust me your kids will appreciate the honesty.
DOES TEACHING TOLERANCE MEAN CHANGING THEIR BELIEFS?
Let’s not confuse teaching tolerance with impressing different beliefs on your children. Tolerance merely means that your children are accepting of others different views, doesn’t mean they have to agree with them.
Kids that learn that differences are ok, beyond being accepting, also seem to have higher self-esteem. They realize that they aren’t just like everyone else, and that is what makes them special!
My eldest daughter, Keiran, was very shy and insecure as a child. From a very young age, we started talking about the differences in people. In her case, she is hard of hearing and has crooked pinky fingers. At first she thought this was something to look down upon. Why would anyone like crooked pinkies?
We started out by making lists of things that were different about her friends that she admired. She quickly came up with a list of 10 or so things for each person, but when she became the subject of that list it took a little bit more work.
Over the years, she has learned to love her cool colored hearing aides, and the fact that only she can do “crooked pinky swears.” She has developed her own personality and identity because she celebrated her unique qualities. They were awesome traits to have not societal abnormalities.
“I love my sister’s crooked pinkies. I wish I had some. ~ Bayla age 9
The best way for your children to learn all of this is for you to set a good example. This may be hard if you haven’t had to think about how you react to others, but you might be surprised how much it makes you a better person.
HELP OUR KIDS BE THE SOLUTION NOT PART OF THE PROBLEM
Intolerance is something that is crippling our country. Raise your children to be a new generation of kind, open minded adults that will learn from the mistakes past generations have made. All you need to do is show them how.