My husband and I came from similar backgrounds, both of us are very tolerant in our understanding of people, and the world. After all, you need to be tolerant to embark on a life-long journey together, right? Well, ever since our girl was born, we agreed that it would become one of the core values of our parenting, and her upbringing. We want for her to experience the entire world, and to keep an open-mind every step of the way. Even though we consulted numerous pages (both online, and hard copy), nobody can actually prepare you for the time when you become your child’s tolerance guru. But in sticking to our virtues, and remaining open-minded ourselves, I think we are doing a good job, so far at least.
As with anything related to the development of your child, you want to take it as it comes, one day at a time. Kids pick up so much on what you say, and how you behave, both good and bad, that you have to keep an eye on yourself at all time. During our many trips to the supermarket, one time it was one of those really God-awful days when she caught me off-guard. Not only did I neglect to greet my neighbor in one of the aisles, but also greet, and thank the cashier. Once we were at the house, one of her friends from the street greeted her, and she just went in. Luckily, I caught that, and confronted her, only to find out she was doing the same thing as me, moments earlier. With a bit of a blush, I sat her down, and explained what had happened. Ever since then, I was cautious how I treated others in her presence, because I knew she would catch on quickly.
When talking to my daughter about important things, I always try to be reasonable, and above all truthful. On our travels, John was feeling tired during a long, and tedious night drive, and suggested we spend the night somewhere for safety reasons. The next morning, while we were checking out my daughter asked me about gay people. I realized that we have stayed the night in a gay friendly resort. After some consultation, we explained how everybody deserves happiness, and love, and how difference makes the world a better place, because that was our point of view. She recognized our sincerity, and accepted it, without hesitation. And thanks to chance, and that gay friendly resort, she now accepts all people for who they are, focusing on the goodness in them. Now, isn’t that one for the chronicles of parenting?
As part of her education, we try to instill in our girl with positive social values. And while we had a hand in teaching her to be polite, sincere, and accepting, her latest role models raised her empathy, and respect for others. Of course, I am talking about her grandparents. Luckily, both sides of our families adore her, and are (reasonably) reasonable people. And while our visits aren’t frequent, whenever we can, we let her grandparents share in her upbringing. They came through, and not only did they raise her respect for her elders, but others as well. She has begun to display the same kind of respect, as she would want for herself. Also, she has become more sympathetic, and asks us when we come home about our feelings, and is interested to hear about our day. However strange, it does feel good, especially when she offers a kind gesture, like trying to do the dishes. Luckily, no dishes have been broken so far!
At the end of the day, it is my belief that all kids can be thought to be tolerant. Though, through curious circumstances as a parent, I learned that your job is to nudge them in the right direction each day. Then take a step back, and you can stand in awe of your own work, watching them blossom into good, and caring people you want them to be.