Do you practice *tolerance*? Do you teach your children??

Discussion in 'Parenting FAQ' started by ~Meeshi~, May 24, 2002.

  1. ~Meeshi~

    ~Meeshi~ Also Known As Michelle

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    And if so, just how do you go about it??

    Whether it be racial, religious, etc....

    There's been so many times I've been slammed about my spirituality... So many times I've seen and heard nasty reactions to J's appearance (dreadlocks and beard etc)... I honestly can't count the number of times people have snickered and openly ridiculed J *in front of their children, no less*!!!

    I want to raise Nico and Kaya to be as tolerant and open of others as I can....

    How do I go about it??

    Just looking for a little feedback, I guess.....

    Thanks, Mamas!

    :heart:
  2. JennyC

    JennyC onagainoffagainjiggetyjig

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    Sure.
    We don't have a plan about it..but we're very tolerant people by nature...so it's just sort of natural.
    We certainly don't talk down to other people or make negative comments about them...and I guess when we see people doing things differently from how we do them - i.e. people eating meat at a restaurant - if Eli asks, we say, "Well, different people make different choices for different reasons." and leave it that.
    I think there's a website www.teachingtolerance.org that might have more info. for you.
    :)
  3. Tiffany

    Tiffany Amity's Focus Member

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    My Boys are still very young, but their being tolerant is extremely important to me. Unfortunately my parents are very INtolerant & prejudice. They know very little about my boyfriend (my dad doesn't even know he exists) because I know they are going to freak (I am caucasian christian, he is arab muslim).

    I show my Boys by example. I talk to everyone regardless of appearance, etc. I never point out people's differences, just treat them all the same.

    This is truly important to me not only because it is the right thing to do, but because one day my blond-headed, fair-skinned, blue-eyed boys will have ½ arab siblings. Not to mention an arab step-father. And our house will be both islamic & christian.
  4. ~Meeshi~

    ~Meeshi~ Also Known As Michelle

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    Thank you for that site, Jenny!! :D

    We had a problem for a while with Nico staring at people. Though it's not exactly intolerance, it can be very uncomfortable for the stare-ee... We've been there, you know? Like when we saw a man in the grocery store with an amputated leg, he was in a wheelchair. After asking her three times not to stare, J told her "If you are curious, at least smile and say hello!" She did, and the man stopped and talked with us for a little bit... He was really nice. And the next time we saw someone in a wheelchair, instead of just staring, Nico flashed a big smile.

    We are tolerant by nature as well, but it's hard where we live... It's pretty darn *white* out here.... :( That's the one thing that I don't like about being way out in the country. It's not very multi-cultural at all....
  5. ChristinaMarie

    ChristinaMarie New Member

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    Not that this answers your question at all but.... I have such a pet peeve with calling it tolerance or tolerating.

    Here is the dictionary definition (I snipped for relevance and brevity!):
    Main Entry: tol·er·ance

    2 a : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own b : the act of allowing something : TOLERATION
    3 : the allowable deviation from a standard; especially : the range of variation permitted in maintaining a specified dimension in machining a piece

    To me this means that you would be teaching your child that they are allowing for someone elses beliefs that deviate from your standards, not exactly what I think you are trying to say?

    Now back to your question......
    I teach my children that we are not always right and we do not know everything about everything. Basically that we are not superior to others. (or inferior!LOL) Instead of tolerating others beliefs as compared to our standards I just teach them that each family has different standards and that is very ok and personal.
    Our religious beliefs teach that we are to go out and share the good news of Christ. I don't ever take this to mean persecuting those who do not believe or telling them they are wrong, just to share my joy! I share the story and God takes care of souls....
    Does any of this rant make sense?
    Christina
  6. Penguinlady

    Penguinlady New Member

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    i practice acceptance not tolerance

    ;)
  7. ChristinaMarie

    ChristinaMarie New Member

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    Oh, I like that much better! Thanks! I couldn't come up with a good alternative! (preggo brain)
  8. Startingover

    Startingover New Member

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    Believe it or not

    Children are naturally tolerant. Fill a room with 2 year olds and they don't care what race, religion, or disability any of the other kids are they just play. Children are unfortunetly taught to be distrustful of other races to look down on other religions and how well that lesson is taught will determine how intolarant they will be as adults.
    Your actions and reactions (both spoken and unspoken)are a HUGE influence on your children's tolarance of others.
    But don't feel bad if your child stares or another child stares at you it is a opportunity to learn and a extremely natural thing for a child to do. The first time my son saw a black person (not brown but jet black) he was 3 and he wanted to know if she had been burned. She looked at me with disgust and I had to explain that we did not watch t.v. and lived in the country. Then asked if she would allow my son to touch her skin and hair? The whole time explaining to my son that each person is born different...ect.. ect.

    Umm...confession time...I'm sorta prejudice against men with long hair...lol... I look at a guy with long hair and automatically think...BOY. I was a military brat, an active duty soldier for 6 years and now I'm married to a soldier. So to me only boys have long hair all the men around me have short hair. Sorry silly but just a automatic reaction for me.


    Regina:usa:
  9. maryhannahkali

    maryhannahkali Hangin' off a cliff

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    Hmmmm......great question.

    I don't think tolerance is taught. I think INtolerance is taught. The majority of my family is very prejudice. This was something that was passed down generation to generation. Children are very tolerant; they don't care who/what a person is, as long as they will play with them!!!

    I remember my oldest dd telling me something one day when she was about 8 or 9. I had to pick her up afterschool one day and she wanted me to meet a friend of hers. I asked he what she looked like so I could find her amongst all of the other kids coming out of school. She said 'well, she's about my height with long hair. She pretty much looks like me.' Well, she was right, Mary's height, long hair, and very, very dark. Funny how kids don't notice these things!!

    Now, all this coming from me - a person raised in an all-white town with a prejudiced family. Now married to the best man in the world and with a very culturally diverse family!!! Sometimes, you realize what your taught is wrong. :)
  10. ElDucko

    ElDucko Amity's Focus Member

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    I don't know if I teach it so much as try to live it ya know? We see lots of different people around and stuff. Charlie has a tendancy to blurt things so we do a lot of 'we don't say people are fat, it makes them sad' at home. She is only four [almost!] and I'm not sure how much she's taking in. If she makes a comment or asks a question then I will certianly step in if I know, or tell her 'why don't you ask' which almost always works out. I haven't had anyone get really po'ed at that approach yet, I think they can tell she just doesn't know. I'm hoping that between me and my husband we'll have really openminded kids. We're really different people who learn from each other. I think a lot of this is my anthro degree, I can't help it! When I first learned about the field I felt like I'd come home in a way, it's all about not judging people by your own rules. You have to learn thier system and why they are doing things they way they are, etc.
    :) I hope that helps! Sometimes I just confuse :(
    jessica
  11. Mama2HoneyBears

    Mama2HoneyBears Home, Home on the Range..

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    We do---for living in South Dakota our neighborhood is very racially, ethnically, religious diverse which makes our jobs easier cause the differences are no big deal to my 5 and 2 yr old. We talk about differences alot and that differences are ok. Makeslife more interesting, etc. We talk about choices too like another mama mentioned .
  12. saffronne

    saffronne New Member

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    When things like this happen- and they do to everyone- we are always as matter of fact about it and explain it clearly without trying to put a spin on it. For instance, one of the women who works at a local health food store is fully veiled- only her eyes show. Maggie, my 4 year old, walked right up to her, looked carefully for a moment, and then turned to me and asked "what is that lady wearing?" I made eye contact with the lady in question, smiled, and told Maggie it was a very special kind of hat. Maggie asked why she was wearing it and I told her it was because it made the lady happy. This was enough for Maggie, and the lady behind the counter thought it was all pretty cute.

    She's asked (loudly) in stores why that person is in a wheelchair, etc, and usually (after making some sort of friendly eye contact with the person in question) I'll explain that the chair helps them to get around, etc. This usually suffices. If it doesn't I then ask Maggie is she wants to talk to the person- she usually doesn't. But she will flash them a smile and take it for granted that people who are different exist and that it's no big deal. There's always a reason- even if you have to look a little harder. I haven't had to deal with any questions about race yet, Maggie is just very accepting that different people look different from each other. I imagine that, if asked why so-and-so looks dark, or has different eyes or hair, I'll just explain that there need to be many kinds of beauty in the world or it'll get dull. Or something along those lines- make it up as I go along.

    Sometimes I think we adults read more into a simple question or curiosity than there needs to be, and we should keep that in mind when thinking about what a kid is saying/doing/thinking. Like when Maggie says, "That person looks like so and so" and it just so happens that the people being comapred are dark skinned, it doesn't mean she's taking notice of race. I've paid close attention and she does these sort of comparisons all the time- that person looks like daddy, like Uncle Jeremy, etc. So sometimes making it into A Conversation About Tolerance can demonstrate that there are Differences To Be Aware Of, instead of just being matter of fact about it and not calling attention to it beyond a simple and straightforward explanation. In my opinion kids are basically born tolerant- if curious- and have to learn intolerance from others.

    Boy, I've really rambled on now.....

    Hope this helps.
  13. saffronne

    saffronne New Member

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    FUnny story about kids noticing different things....

    Along this vein, with kids asking/staring at unusual items of clothing or wheelchairs or what have you....

    We were at a restaraunt a few months back, getting ready to be seated for breakfast. An African-American couple walked in. The husband/boyfriend had one one of those cloth-type head coverings. Someone told me they're called Do-rags? I have no clue, but I hope you know what I'm talking about. They come in and sit down in the waiting area. Maggie looks at him hard for a second, turns to me (I'm bracing for it at this point) and says loudly-and pointing- "Mommy, is that man a pirate?" His wife/girlfriend just cracked up and laughed till I thought she'd pass out. I tried to explain that he wasn't a pirate, he was just wearing a different kind of hat. The poor guy is standing there, caught between indignation and gut busting laughter when Maggie says "Well, I guess you're right about him not being a pirate. He doesn't have a parrot." His companion managed to keep her amusement down to a snicker but this clearly caught her imagination and she just giggled and chuckled till they were seated 5 minutes later. I tried to catch the man's eye and say sorry but I think he was trying to be aloof to the whole thing- I caught his friend's eye and said sorry to her but she was so amused I don't think she cared.

    Just one of those kid things...
  14. PosieMama

    PosieMama New Member

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    I teach by example.LOL that is I guess why my girls say "O man" a lot.LOL and a few other choice phrases.LOL

    No seriously though I beleive that is the only way they will learn to be truly accepting and to care about others just because they are people.YK all the outer noise aside we are all the same inside, that is what I try to get across to them.

    We to have had the occasional akward ?'s come up.YK you are in the grocery checkout line and the 4 year old says "Hey mom.....you fill in the blank with whatever embarassing phrase that comes to mind." I am trying to get my girls to understand that if they are curious about why someone has a broken leg, purple hair or even a piercing that is different to them, to ask the person about it. I know some people would be uncomfortable with that but I truly think that curiosity is a healthy thing and that it is better for a child to ask than stand and stare without getting thier ?'s answered.That is of course if the situation seems appropriate.YKWIM? Knowledge about "others" is a good thing IMO. I have found that most people will welcome a ? from a child. I mean who could get mad at a little child if they asked them if they were a pirate? To me that is such sweet genuine curiosity. Of course there are some people out there who are very intolerant of children and that can be a teaching moment too.

    Okay this may sound dumb to some people but I was in one of our Trader Joe's stores and the check out gal had pierced cheeks and those gromets in her ears.Okay I was dying to know how bad that hurt to have done. I asked her because I knew she had to "feel" I was looking, I mean I could feel that others were looking at her. YKWIM? She was totally cool about telling me about it.
    True acceptance and tolerance I think comes from having an open mind, a true love of humanity and a willingness to learn something new about some one else with out making a judgement call. If WE do that our children will learn to do it too. ;)
  15. J3

    J3 Deadhead mama of girls

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    I do try....but sometimes come up short, but I'm trying my best. Ellen wants to know why a woman wears a headcovering (Musilim) and I couldn't think of anything on the spot so I just told her that in her church that is what women do. Next time I will tell her because it makes her happy (copied from here!thank you!) She's also loudly asked why some people have a dot on their forehead. She is also very curious about wheelchairs and how people got to be in wheelchairs. She wants to ask the person if s/he was in an accident or born that way. My baby is sometimes afraid of or curious about African American people only because she isn't around them except for stores and appointments. She's just shy in general but I'm helping her to realize we're all people just in different skin.
    I hate to admit this but my inlaws are very racist, classist, and regionalist. I'm embarrasssed, sad and angry. When they talk about racial things I try to distract dd's, talk over them, or leave the scene, change the subject. They also resent their ds married me, who is a "yankee" and not southern born. They resent people born in north or those from north of Mason Dixon line -I'm totally serious- they are still fighting the civil war...not so much from fil's side (dh likes to tell me that Key West was Union) but from mil's side. Also classist in that they pretend to be old money when in reality just barely getting by and making bills.
    Sexual preference differences: I try to teach my children that these people are just people, no better or worse than the way we do things, just different. I have no problems with gays and my children seeing them holding hands, hugging or kissing. I would have problems with people, whether gay or straight doing sexual things that are not appropriate for public behavior in front of my kids.
    This country was founded on freedoms, so I want them to know that we are all free to do what makes us happy as long as it isn't hurting anyone else, and that we should respect others who may be different.
  16. erika

    erika New Member

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    hippimum

    I started laughing at that one-I'm still in tears.That is soo funny.
    I mean I now it might of been embrassing but I can just see a little kid asking that question so honestly and curious.
    I have to tell my dh about that one.:D
    Erika
  17. Tiffany

    Tiffany Amity's Focus Member

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    Oh Jen, I hear you about the "yankee" thing! My parents, especially my mother, is always saying "it must be a yankee thing, I can't believe you are choosing to live there (Massachusetts), blah blah blah" ... more stuff along the lines of my yankee ex-husband. They just can't understand that I would rather live in a cooler, more economically stable, excellent education, superior healthcare mecca.

    And racist to boot! When I went out on ONE date with a black man over a year ago, she didn't talk to me for months! Wait until she finds out that I am seriously dating an arab muslim! My dad is just like her, even though they are divorced. He truly believes caucasians & asians are intellectually superior to the "darker" races. Totally ridiculous! It pisses me off to no end when he starts his ignorant, nonsensical babble! He hasn't talked about it in awhile, but I know he still believes it. He will have a cow when he finds out about my boyfriend too, but ironically will accept him before my mom will just because of me. Strange strange strange! On the other hand, my boyfriend's hijab wearing mother can't wait to meet me .... pink skin, blonde hair and all!

    OK, I digress ...
  18. Ummjulian

    Ummjulian New Member

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    For us my children do not see a difference in people

    To them people are people. We also have a family that is so multicultural we could also be considered the United Nations. So for them they are color/religion & everything else blind. I am very fair skinned., blond hair, blue eyed, my dh is Lebanese - olive skin/dark hair/brown eyes. My step father is African American, my SIL is Hindu form India. We have restaurants & many of are employees are from all over the world - Egypt, Mexico , Italy , India & more. My children speak English , Arabic, some french , some spanish & I'm sure their language skills will improve as they get older.

    We also travel to the Middle East so they get to experience life outside the US .

    Also my kids looks so different form each other it's hard to tell they are even related. DS # 1 has blond hair , blue eyes , fair skin but looks just like his father. DD has olive skin, green eyes &Lt. brown hair but looks like me. DS#2 has strawberry blond hair, blue eyes & fair skin & he is a combo of me & dh. They don't even look like they are related let alone brothers & sister.LOL.
  19. I am often amazed that I turned out as accepting as I am. Seeing as I grew up down south with all the racist comments and so much hate. My, my people certainlt do teach little kids intolerance and hate which I think makes you feel more inferior as a person to put other persons down, and breads resentment fear and lack of self esteme for everyone. My family thinks of me as A "Yankee" now also fine with me I have crossed the lines you see me wearing blure LOL rather than grey!! I never felt comfortable with racial or any mean spirited comments about others. When I got married at 18 (husband was Navy from Pac NW) we moved to Ca and it was great that race was not so much as issue, there were mixed race couples and no one snickered I thought WOW this is so cool, not saying Ca does not have racial issues everywhere does but it made an impact on me living in a diffrent enviroment. Then we moved back south and one of my very good friends was a black lady, our family got along great with hers...then people I thought of as tolerant friends of mine would put them down for "other non exist reasons" still trying to make there selves look better but not able to admit to there selves they did it becasue of racial issues I learned a lot from this. Then we left the Navy life and friends and now live in Minnesota a mostly white state...so I made sure to find a school for dd with some racial diversity, I get along best with other races it seems because I am accepting of all and I do everything I can to teach my children to love others. I am a Jesus loving sort but I have no problem with other religions I also belive this is a country where we should live up to our so called values of freedom...freedom of religion freedom of lifestyle ect... I am glad there are others in this world who atleast try to teach there kids to respect others and not judge others at first sight. I hope that there are more of us teaching kids this than parents teaching intolerance or worse hate. The greatest is love ...love one another - PEACE-
  20. BsKnees

    BsKnees New Member

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    WE do!

    I like the term accepting though better than tolerance, but I get what you are asking.

    We also live in a predominately white area, most of our province is that way. Though at least 1/3 of the population up here is Native Canadian (People of the First Nations) unfortunately they are also the group that has the most social problems, so it seems to be completly acceptable to be racist against them :( Dh who is a police officer, is constantly asked if he is excited to get transferred so that he "doesn't have to deal with as many drunk Indians" Can you believe that?!?! (In Canada federal police are responsible for policing small towns, they get transferred from town to town every few years unless they want to go work in federal crime sections, or customs, or some other federal branch, it is quite different from the US system) The racism is just so BLATANT here, though in a way I feel it is less destructive than the type of closet racism so popular in the larger centers, at least this way it is out in the open so that those of us who care can counter it. Anyway my dh most often says he does not mind reserve policing at all and that generally it is the white people he deals with that cause the most problems. Of course this in itself is a racist thing to say...I think he says it to shock people with a little of their own medicine. He is also the school liaison and give talks in the schools all the time, you don't know how often he is asked racist questions by kids, and really I don't blame them at all they are just regurgitating what they have learned at home. Just yesterday he had a student tell him that all the problems in the world are because of those people who "read Satanic Bibles", so he gently explained about religious tolerance, and how as long as you and kind to all people, you can believe what you believe , and they should be left to believe what they believe, it was a simplistic version but I think it got the point across. On another day the kids were doing role playing and on kept calling the other a "faggot" this REALLY made dh upset, again he talked to them all about being tolerant and accepting of others, this is a real hot point in our town, but I am proud of him that he stands up for what is right no matter how many parents get their feathers ruffled. He is not asking them to change their beliefs, he is simply asking that at the very least they be tolerant of things they don't understand, and keep an open mind. Ok that was much longer than I expected it to be LOL.

    My original point was just one of commiseration Meeshi, we are very DIFFERENT when it comes to appearance up here, and have been taunted because of it. Basically we just try and use it as a life lesson. I will explain to the kids that it hurts my feelings when I am made fun of, but I don't make fun back because it doesn't solve anything, that lashing out at someone because they are different just shows that you are afraid of those who are different because it makes you feel inadequate. Dh and I talk A LOT and I think the kids pick up quite a bit just from listening. Lily used to have this real, "black is bad, white is good thing", not for people but just the colours in general. We didn't come down on her, I mean she obviously got it from somewhere and we didn't want her to feel as though she was "bad" for saying it, we just started to talk a lot about how different people are different colours and that one is not good or bad, they are just different, after a while she got over this phase.

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