How do we teach our children you can disagree and still be respectful? How do we teach our children people who are different from us are not bad, stupid or ignorant? How do we teach our children these lessons when adults are struggling to do this.
The nastiness is plastered all over social media. News and TV have made what should be civil discourse into a circus of misinformation and fear. People think it is generating from this election but this is something that has been around for a long time. No, I don’t expect people to get together and sing kumbaya but I am personally saddened by the nastiness from all sides, the uptick in hatred and name calling of and by every color, nationality, every sexual orientation or political and religious belief. People all over the place are making snap judgement about each other based on assumptions feed to them by the media, Facebook meme’s, Hollywood and others.
In this past week alone I have been called a ignorant, white-privileged bitch. Friends of mine were told they need to get “back on the boat.” Co-workers have had doors literally slammed in their face because of their nationality. Family members and acquaintances are blaming each other for events that have not even happened yet. And Facebook bullies are making assumptions about peoples character based on political posts.
So I ask you what are we teaching our children? One side shouts at the other, the other side name calls back. But not one is hearing each other, no one is listening. Well, our kids are. They are learning that different opinions are wrong. They are learning that if your neighbor doesn’t think, look or act like you they are to be blamed for our countries ills. They are the problem.
Lessons in bad behavior
This squabbling, bitterness, anger and fear are teaching them it is ok to be intolerant of others. It is teaching them to stifle their own ideas if they aren’t in agreement with their friends. Our children are not learning to listen to both sides, they are not learning to be open-minded. They are learning to make snap judgements with little information and to be angered by differing opinions. Civil discourse and open communication are no where in sight, instead they are getting a lesson in stereotyping, non-conformity and name calling.
Who is teaching them this? Why, it is us of course. No… not one side or the other, it is all of us because well, it takes two to fight. So yes, we are all to blame for setting this example for our children.
It’s time to stop
Let’s be honest, we where never thinking of them. We were thinking of how wrong the other guy was, why would they think this way, why would they believe that? We were so caught up in proving the other person wrong that we all just kind of forgot our kids where watching. They we’re listening. But they saw your angered rant on Facebook, heard you yell at the TV commentator, watched as you argued with friends and family.
So how do we teach or children it is ok to disagree? How do we teach them that differences are not a bad thing? We teach them tolerance, respectfulness and civility, by doing it ourselves. That’s it… that’s all. Maybe we all lost our heads for a little while. But we all need to stop the nonsense, get off Facebook, make up with our friends and get back to living our lives because our kids are watching.