We live in a world that is becoming increasingly more diverse along various lines – religion, race, gender, socio-economic status etc. Unfortunately, in some cases, these differences have led to a mass loss of lives and injuries to many. Hardly does a week pass by without the tabloids reporting suspected terrorist attacks or some form of violence in different parts of the world. In the past one-week alone, there have been reports of terrorist attacks in Adamawa state, Nigeria and Barcelona, Spain; Stabbings in Turku, Finland and the Charlottesville violence in Virginia, USA. Whether the cause of these violent acts are religious or racial, it’s clear that at the root are differences in beliefs and that’s where the need for TOLERANCE in managing diversity comes in.
Our children are not shielded from these world happenings – with technology and the Internet doing a great job at delivering updates, posts and breaking news alerts directly to our children’s phones and devices. While they may not fully make sense of what the underlying issues are, it’s important that we step up to our role as parents/guardians by proactively having age-appropriate discussions with them, guiding them through this maze of diversity and teaching them about tolerance before they are indoctrinated by extremist views.
To set the ball rolling, here are a few things we should let our children know about tolerance.
- People are different and there would always be people that are different from us.
- Being different is not necessarily a bad thing.
- Tolerance does not mean that ‘I share your beliefs or point of view but I respect you and the fact that you are entitled to your beliefs and I expect the same from you”.
- Being tolerant doesn’t mean you have to accept disrespectful or bad attitudes.
- That you differ from someone in a particular area or on a matter does not mean there aren’t areas in which you can still connect.
- Tolerance towards others can be difficult. Sometimes it may require you being kind and respectful to people who you feel don’t deserve it.
- Tolerance should be displayed not just in the physical world but also in the digital world. Don’t post hate or inflammatory comments online or undermine people who are different from you.
Some virtues that can help our children in improving their ‘Tolerance Quotient” include healthy self-esteem, self-confidence, empathy and understanding your family values. That way even when they encounter diversity, they are not easily swayed to feel either inferior or superior to others, they simply understand that it is what it is…”people are different”!
Oh! And when our children come to us with questions about differences they observe in others, no matter how awkward it may be for us, please let’s answer their questions as objectively as we can. They are looking for answers and guidance…wouldn’t you rather be the one to give it to them? Finally, let’s remember that actions speak louder than words. As we teach our children to be tolerant, let’s not fail to show tolerance ourselves. A tolerant person encourages good character in others and oneself. Tolerance is a core social value we should all imbibe.
ParentInvestment is powered by RAVE Et Al, a social enterprise that partners with parents, schools, government and other stakeholders, to reinforce in the younger generation, the values, attitudes and life skills that are imperative for success offline and online. To find out more please visit www.rave-etal.com.