Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A viewpoint on parenting on the topic of tolerance and acceptance.

First off I am no expert but I have been on the receiving end of others parenting and have had to face a number of parenting challenges in the last almost nine years. In saying this I do feel like I have some space to share a viewpoint. But last night i got fired up. So what better place to air out here on the little old blog:)

My lovely little man Elliot is a thinker. I know I have shared this before so I won't elaborate too much although he is the one who provided me with the topic for todays post. He is not the kid that overhears your adult conversation and allows it to go in one ear and out the other. I often change the radio station if the news reports come on because his heart is just much to big for these types of things. I have found this to be true so much more this year in his studies as well. I think he pulls more information and develops more questions and opinions than the average kid. Not to say he is extraordinary he is just an individual.

I have found in parenting , one of the most important things I feel the heart to teach my children about is diversity and the tolerance to go with it. I feel like this is an ongoing issue that spans the generations, but I feel that it will only become more and more important as time moves on. This being said Brian and I have really made a point to not only encourage the acceptance of differences but to also point them out to encourage the awareness. I know this may sound quite liberal however I think as Christians(and as people of any background really) it is important to realize that although we believe our faith is the only way, there are many people that don't believe that and there many instances where we as Christians are the minority.

I believe growing up in the community in which I live in you often look around and see that most people are on your same wavelength and are falling the beat of the same drum so to speak...this is not bad per-say but I do think it allows us to close one eye to what the real world is really like. I mean for example my neighbors on all side of me are Christians with in a block of each direction of my house there is a church and my kids go to a Christian School. And don't get me wrong what a blessing. However could it be that there is also a downside....I mean I don't worry about my kids playing with the "bad" kids in my neighborhood because to tell you the truth as of right now there really aren't any bad kids, I don't worry about where to send my kids to school because if public school isn't your thing there are 4 Christian Schools in my area. This makes me fear that my children will grow up thinking this is what the world is like everywhere...and possibly when they experience it differently they will automatically thing that different means bad, sinful, ungodly or the like.

These thoughts are what make me think outside of my box when explaining other peoples viewpoints to my kids, when exposing them to certain experiences that maybe are outside of what others in our community would be caught dead doing, by allowing my kids to ask questions about anything that they seem to find alarming so that we can dialogue openly about that topic. I mean I couldn't be more thankful for the opportunity to talk to them about off color subjects now when they still want to talk to me about things because I am not blind to the fact that it might not always be that way.

When I was in high school I will never forget talking to some girls in my youth group about mission work. Now I grew up in a non christian home and this made some people treat me like the plague....I actually had someone tell me not to worry they wouldn't tell there parents mine weren't Christians then they could still come over. Okay come on I was a good kid who was raised with strong morals and values who got good grades and my parents are more moral and solid then some Christians. So back to the conversation I was explaining to them that I had a strong heart for missions but I wasn't sure that my parents would ever understand the concept and I thought in that I should be sensitive. One of the girls said so does that mean your parents are Pagans....like they worship the dark side. I almost choked I could not believe what I had just heard. I still can't. This scared me then and scares me now....I want my kids to be educated and aware that just because someone doesn't believe what they believe doesn't make someone bad or evil. In fact in many circumstances this is just an opportunity for you to be the salt and the light.

So Elliot last night was praying before bed and he starts praying for Muslims. He also prayed about taxes and the national debt but that I can save for later. The part that struck me was the talk about Muslims. I think this stemmed from a September 11 history lesson although I am still not quite sure. Lets just say he had some opinions, not all correct but some valid and I know for sure there are many adults that share his viewpoint. I however used this as a moment to share about Gods love and Grace along with a few points on cultures and whatnot. I went on to tell him how blessed he is to be raised such as he is. Also bringing up the fact that some people have not been touched by Christianity as Elliot has at this point. Which brought up the topics of witnessing, missionary work and God's love. We also talked about how some things are best left up to God and it is only our job to love not to judge. I know this will not be the last time we talk about this because he wasn't 100% sure that I was right. And I will be here waiting for it.

It is times like these that I am so glad for my faith. SO glad that God is right there to put words in my mouth and prayer sin my heart. With out Him I am completely unqualified.

After saying all this i just wanted to use my moments with my Elliot to encourage you to openly talk to your children about issues of diversity. Encourage love in all things and for all people.

Disclaimer.....I am sure this will fire many up in many different ways......feel free to leave a comment I am woman enough I can handle it!


Ed / Julie said...

I very much agree with you that this is an important thing to teach your kids and that God is who will give us the words and the ability to teach according to His love, grace, & mercy. However, I do feel the need to limit the interaction that my children have with kids and families who I have already seen have a negative influence on them. We are all susceptible to negative influences and I believe as parents it is also our job (while we're teaching that God's grace is for all) to teach them to be discerning in the kind of choices we make about who we allow to have influence in our lives...until such a time as they are mature enough to BE the good influence and not be negatively influenced by others...that's when we send them out into the world to be used by God in His Kingdom! Right now my children are in boot camp - at school, church, & home - to get prepared to be in the fight for God. Not to say we won't be around people who are different or negative...I just want to be part of it with them so as to set a good example and so that I know what issues are coming up to discuss with them! This is kind of like our discussions in CB a couple weeks ago, right? You are an amazing mom, Jessica and I so value your thoughts and LOVE that you share all this stuff on your blog. It's awesome and you're an awesome example to us all!

Andrea said...

Great post. Very much along the same lines that have been on my heart.
Braxton came home today and the first thing he exclaimed was, "teacher Leatha wrote all the kids' names in braille and I got to bring mine home."
I am thankful that there is a boy who is blind in his class. I am thankful there is a boy in his class who is not very nice. Lots of lessons to be learned/taught!!