How can parents help create a more peaceful world for their children to inherit?
No matter how unbiased we believe ourselves to be, every one of us has inherited prejudicial beliefs from our upbringing and our community. Our personal prejudices affect what we do and do not teach our children about others and how we solve social problems.
Before you can help your children reflect on your own biases, privileges, and disadvantages- ask yourself:
What was I taught about people who are different from me?
What biased situations have I experienced? What did I do? How did I feel?
What people do I feel most comfortable with? ...least comfortable?
What privileges or disadvantages do I have because of my gender, education, economic status, occupation, experiences, age, physical health, race, religion and cultural background? Read Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack for one person's self-anaylsis.
Accept the uniqueness of your child.
If your child feels good about him or herself, she or he will be less likely to be prejudiced.
Develop sensitivity and compassion
Caring, empathetic children are less likely to be hurtful to others. Read books, such as those recommended in TPN Great Books, that help children understand other's points of view.
Challenge myths about people who are different with facts
We live in a world were many prejudices exist. No matter what we do our children will be influenced by what they see and hear. They will see how people treat each other. They will hear ethnic groups put down in jokes. They will notice skin color and racial inequalities. They will see war, militarism, bullying behaviors and graphic violence on TV and in video games.What should we do?
Be honest when answering children's questions about differences.
Don't try to ignore the person in a wheelchair or the toddler's question about why someone has a different color skin.
If your child says something hurtful ask "what made you say that?" then explain why the comment was unacceptable. Remind them that all people have feelings just as they do.
Watch television together
If you see violence being used to solve problems, discuss with your children other things the characters could have done.
Expand your circle of friends
Introduce your children to people from a wide range of backgrounds.
Be an activist role model
Participate in activities that help others or combat violence and war.