Thursday, June 5, 2014

Teaching my children Tolerance of those different from them

**I'm so excited to announce that I've started a youtube channel discussing everything home making. My channel name is Surviving As Mom.  Check it out!!

In a world where everyone is so different, it is important that we teach our children tolerance and understanding of others.  Whether it is race, handicaps, religion, language, body shape, sexual orientation, rich or poor, it is an important lesson that too many people don't teach.

I was bullied terribly as a child, starting in the 2nd grade till the 9th grade.  If stopped when I finally stood up for myself and got into a fist fight with the bully.  Everyone gained respect for me after that and the bullying stopped from everyone.  I had glasses, crazy hair, buck teeth, and I dressed a bit crazy.  I was also very thin, quiet and just an easy victim.  It was very traumatic and painful, so I make sure to teach my children that bullying is NEVER ok.  I also teach them that if they see someone being bullied, they should get involved and defend the victim, as long as it's not dangerous for them.

I teach my children that everyone is different, and that's ok.  They know that they have their own differences (one wears glasses), and those difference make them unique.  They know it is never ok to make someone feel bad for being different.  They know that people have different religious and cultural beliefs, even if we don't agree with those beliefs.  They know that some men marry men and some women marry women.  I don't call it weird or strange.  It's simply different from what we do in our family.  When we see someone in a wheelchair, they know it's because their legs don't work, or they are too sick or weak to walk.  They know that it's ok to be polite and say hello to them.  Especially if that person is a child, because it will make them feel happy.  We've come across deaf children and I explain that they cannot hear and they communicate using sign language.  Just like a blind person uses a long stick to help them navigate since their eyes don't work.  Most people hush children whey they ask questions about "different" people an the child is left wondering what is going on they it becomes a dirty word.  That's not helping anyone.  I use those opportunities to explain these differences to my kids in a respectful manner.  I've noticed that the person in question is appreciative of this.  I even encourage my kids to ask people of their differences, rather than hide it.  If they have a better understanding of things, they will have more respect for people.

There have been instance where talking about a person's difference is unacceptable, and I try to teach them that too.  They know that they shouldn't talk about people who are fat, bald, smelly, "ugly", etc.  I tell them it's ok to notice and think of these things, but it's not ok to talk about it, at least in front of them.  They know that it can hurt someone's feelings and that's not nice.  They seem to get it.

Children learn from the adults around them and it's important that we set a good example.  Tolerance needs to be taught so we can all exist peacefully together.  I'm not perfect when it comes to this.  I was raised with certain ideas about different groups because that's what I learned from my family.  I know these ideas are wrong, so I can only try to change my thinking.  That's why it's important for me to teach my children complete tolerance so they are not programmed with unfair ideas about people.  It's one of the ways I can contribute positively in this world.