Thursday, April 25, 2013

Raising "tolerant" children in today's "intolerant" world....

tol·er·ance
noun
1.
a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, racereligion,nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.
2.
a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.
3.
interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal,undogmatic viewpoint.

The other day I was at the store with Olivia and we walked past a homosexual man who offered me to smell a sample of a men's cologne... I politely said "no! thank you, sir!" and Olivia blatantly busted out (really loud too!) "sir? or lady?".. I looked at her, naturally ashamed...
I turned around to see if the guy had heard her and he was looking straight at me, just chuckling...I wasn't sure if he was laughing at me or laughing with me, but that very moment was an eye opener.. in that split second I asked myself so many questions about what kind of stuff I'm teaching (or not teaching) my children. What kind of job am I doing when it comes to teaching diversity and acceptance?  How can I raise "tolerant" children in this "intolerant" world?..and better yet, how can I teach "tolerance" without trumping over my own beliefs?  How can a mother raise loving and caring children when there is so much hate and disrespect in today's world...

Let's see... I'm a Catholic and I consider myself a fairly conservative girl.. My life hasn't been too wild; I've never tried any drugs or cigarettes and I barely even drink (if ever!)...I'm openly a Republican, active church goer and generally very opinionated....
With that said, I've had people attack me straight up because of my beliefs and my choices.. I've had people assume that I oppose gay marriage, or gay adoption, or that I condemn certain behaviors or life style choices... I have heard awful things from people that claim to be "tolerant"....
I worry about my kids understanding diversity... I think about the day I have to tell them not to stare at someone with a disability and teach them to love everyone the same... I fear the time when I don't have the answer to their questions...and I dread the sole thought of them making fun of anyone based on their choices or their looks...
As a mother I strive to make my kids well rounded and understanding.. I want them to be accepting without throwing away their own ideas.. I want them to be leaders and not followers... I need them to welcome and consider new ideas and new beliefs and to make space for other people's opinions without abandoning their ground values....
...and it all starts with me!  Teaching tolerance is about leading by example and showing our children that we live in a changing world and we need to embrace the change and be part of the positive within all the intolerance that we deal with day in and day out....
I know my kids are sweet and I know they want to learn about diversity.  The other day Olivia approached me and said there is a 5th grader in her school who is "very little"..and she also said "his face looks weird".. I asked her to elaborate and it turns out she was describing someone with dwarfism... I briefly explained what that meant and she intently asked "can you tell me more?".. As I went on with my explantation (as complex as the mind of a 5 year old goes)...she looked at me and said "Oh.. I get it!"....and she said "he's really nice, mommy!... I'd like to be his friend!"...my heart melted and that's when I knew that she has it in her to be understanding and knowledgeable... She is interested in learning more about the world.. and that's exactly what I want!... thank you, God for that!
Not only are people with alternative life styles judged and attacked, but also people with more traditional lives (life myself)... We need to LIVE and LET LIVE! and that's how we will get to that point we all want to reach!
How are you teaching "TOLERANCE" to your child?  How are you executing this "tolerance" in your day to day life?  What does tolerance mean to you??

PS: I re-read this post and I realize it's just a bunch of rambling..but I hope you all get the point! Please tolerate my crazy thoughts! ;)

Happy Blogging! ;)

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