This post was submitted by reader, Miranda DeFabio. It has been edited for syntax and clarity. Publication of opinion pieces does not necessarily mean this site endorses them. However, in this case, the editor is in agreement.
Last week was Martin Luther King Jr. day, and it got me thinking about his “I Have A Dream” speech and what it meant. I downloaded the speech and listened to it in the car, and it really provoked some thoughts for me. Having a toddler, I heard the speech differently than I did years ago when it was just me. This part especially made me think: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.” I think we all hope that our children are judged based on their character and what they do, not by their skin color, sexual orientation, religion, etc.
After listening, I thought about how many people influence their children by what they say and do. When you say the horrible “N word,” YOU are telling your child that it is okay to hate another human based on the color of their skin. Do you really want to spread that poison to your children? Why would we start our children off in life thinking that they are better than others because they are a certain color or thinking they are not good enough because they are a certain color? We are all filled with the same stuff inside; we just look different on the outside. Toddlers like everyone (unless you steal their favorite toy!). They are NOT born with this deplorable hate in their hearts.
We face similar challenges with children judging the LGBTQIA+ community. When you say you don’t think a man should marry a man, then your child will think that is not okay. Your son will be afraid to bring a boyfriend home. He might decide that instead of letting his parents down, he will enter into marriage with a woman and have children with her. This marriage will be strained and will never have the love we really want between married people, as he will be lying to himself. He may also eventually leave this family to pursue life the way he was made. He will have spent years doing something that didn’t feel right to him. There’s also the chance your son decides to kill himself because he felt he couldn’t talk to you about his true feelings.
Parents, don’t do this to your child. Let your child come home with a girlfriend or a boyfriend and don’t be fazed either way. Let him be the way he was made. He isn’t making a choice; he is doing what feels natural to him.
Teach your child about a variety of religions. Kids are sponges, and by letting them know more about the world and the people in it, you are raising a well-rounded individual who is respectful and tolerant of others. Who knows, maybe you will learn some cool new stuff too? You can do so many fun activities while teaching these lessons!
Show your children how to be kind to everyone. Do you really want your child to be bullying the child in their class with special needs? Once again, we were all made the way we were made. Being different is a beautiful thing, and we all need to embrace it. Do not tolerate the horrible words that unfortunately still get used at times to describe people with special needs. We should all expect that our children will be kind to everyone. Remind them constantly to talk to the child who sits alone at recess, or to invite the new child that doesn’t have any friends yet to sit with them at lunch.
Please, please, please, teach your kids to respect the cashier, the waitress, the custodian, the lawyer, and the doctor. We all have different jobs, and each job is important. Don’t raise that awful girl who picks on another girl in her class because her mom works at a diner. Your children should be saying please, thank you, and being genuinely kind when they go out in public.
Everyone, practice love and tolerance in your homes. Give this upcoming generation a chance to focus on the environment, advancing technology, medical breakthroughs, and other amazing things. It is 2018, and we should all know better than to focus on hate. We can do so much more!
Now go hug your amazing child(ren) because they have a bright and wonderful future. They are going to change the world with our help!