Saturday, 6 June 2015

Kids and difference

What do you do when your kid is being taught something you disagree with, and you see them buying it?

This is a big question in some cultures where there is a state religion that is taught in school, even to the point of reciting that faith's sacred texts. It goes up a notch in a couple where the religion is different between the father and the mother. Another case, although probably not as intense, is highly secularised education, such as that in France.

I think one important step is to recognise diversity as a non-threatening aspect of human existence. So, parents who believe significantly different things actually have, I believe, a parental responsibility to being patient and consistent. It is actually an opportunity to show our kids that we can live in a diverse world. Forcing them into any kind of: it's me or your father, or it's me or your mother is simply not necessary. What is very necessary indeed is for our kids to see that love does not depend on agreement on all issues, even the spiritual stuff.

So if Mum is convinced that the world is curved and Dad says it is flat, then it seems key to me that the love, respect and tolerance exceeds the need for the kid to believe something identical to either parent. In fact, if the views of the parents contradict, then forcing a kid into one camp could be harmful on the family, drawing them into an internal confusion, and horrid divided loyalties.
So our kids need us to be asking ourselves, not what should I do, so much as how should I be?
  • truthful to myself
  • respectful of my spouse
  • patient and non-pressing on a decision of allegiance.

A child is not able to separate the issue from the parent, so I think we can also definitely recommend
  • - drawing in alternative worldviews and not polarising to one or another.
  • - showing that there is openness to "crossover " 
  • - that the two views may not be just polar opposites but located differently along a spectrum of beliefs. Other examples will probably be useful at this point.

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