Thursday, May 23, 2024

Teaching Your Children To Fight Prejudice.

July 24, 2018 by  
Filed under Education, Health, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.comWhose responsibility is it to create a better society? Is it the politicians who enact policy that changes the way in which our country governs its citizens and interacts with other nations? Is it the law enforcement agencies that keep a watchful eye over us and ensure that the people whose behavior ruptures the fabric of society? Is it with the courts who decide the laws by which we all live? Perhaps it’s with the teachers who help to shape the minds of the next generation and the parents who (knowingly or unknowingly) pass on their passions and prejudices to their children as much as they do their genetics. Or perhaps it’s the responsibility of the children themselves. They will inherit this world and as such it behoves them to learn from our mistakes and build a better tomorrow.

Of course, the correct answer is all of the above. But in order to make this world a better place, we all must acknowledge our unity. We all must understand that we share the burden of making this world a better place and as such we cannot allow ourselves to be divided. Not by the politics of right and left. Not by the gender with which we identify or the color of our skin. Not by the Gods to worship nor the customs and traditions we honor. Not by the people to whom we are attracted or with whom we share our love. We must all take a stand and refuse to be divided by our prejudices. And Heaven knows, in an era where the curtain of pseudo anonymity of social media enables people to say whatever they want to whomever they want, spewing their hateful bile and citing “free speech” when challenged, this is an attitude we desperately need.

Prejudice is a difficult prospect to explain to a youngster. They may well laugh, so preposterous is the notion to a young mind of making a conscious decision to dislike someone because of the color of their skin, the cadence of their voice or even their favorite football team. But they need to understand that prejudice, while ostensibly ridiculous, is a dark and sinister force that they must play a part in eradicating. Here are some weapons you can bestow upon them in this never ending battle…

Remind them that they are not a victim

While they must be vigilant and guard against prejudice against others, they must also learn to take a stand against prejudice aimed at themselves. If they experience negativity from their peers at school and their teachers do nothing to intervene this can lead to a victim mentality that will stunt their personal growth even in adulthood. A victim mentality prevents someone from being empowered to change their life for the better. A victim mentality causes them to accept bad things that happen to them because they feel that they deserve it. A victim mentality prevents a road traffic victim from getting the support and justice they need by calling Atlanta Advocates to pursue a claim. A victim mentality can prevent your child from making their mark on the world or convince them that their lives don’t matter. But they do! The first step towards being able to create a better and more equitable society is learning to respect yourself.

Teach them to look at others’ ignorance as an opportunity

Prejudice thrives in a climate of ignorance. Ignorance is an extremely frustrating thing to behold. But if your children are conditioned to look upon ignorance with anger, they will only ever find a fight. Instead, teach your kids to see others’ ignorance as an opportunity to educate and enlighten their fellow human beings. And make no mistake, there’s a lot of ignorance out there. Every racist joke, every homophobic tweet and every sexist meme, offensive to their sensibilities as it may be, is an opportunity for them to help educate and enlighten others. Even if they do not sway the mind of the perpetrator, they will set a positive example for onlookers.

Encourage them to stand up to authority if necessary

If history has taught us anything it’s that those in authority are rarely right. Regardless of how you feel about President Trump, his controversial policies have made us realize what a rare and wonderful gift a free society is. The right to challenge authority rather than accepting their every edict as rote is a fundamental part of our democracy and one that we should encourage our children to steward. Whether it’s a politician, a teacher or a cop, every authority figure deserves to be held to account by us and should have the opportunity to learn and grow from our criticism.

Teach them to respect many but revere none

We all do our best to ensure that our children show respect. Respect to us, our neighbors, their friends and relatives, their teachers and religious leaders and anyone who’s working to make their lives better. We also must raise our kids to respect their local environment, especially given the ecological challenges their generation will face. But as important as this respect undoubtedly is, we should teach them to guard against reverence. When we revere others we put them on a pedestal. We accept what they say unquestioning and we apply no critical thought to their ideologies. Obviously, this can have extremely negative repercussions and cause them to compromise their sense of right and wrong. By all means, respect and admire… But think twice before you revere.

Teach them the value of strength… However they find it

Sure, there’s value in physical strength for boys and girls. Feeling strong, fit and healthy empowers you and arms you with the confidence to fight prejudice, ignorance and negative stereotypes wherever you find them… But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You should teach your children to look for and value strength wherever they see it. Strength isn’t in in bullying and overpowering others. It’s in making sacrifices to protect those closest to us. It’s in stepping up to speak out against oppression and bigotry. It’s in putting the needs of the many in front of your own self interest. There’s as much strength in the single mother down the street who works two jobs to support their kids as there is in the guy at the gym who can bench 200lbs.

And finally… Armor them with patience, smiles and love

The world will be tough on your kids. It will show them a lot that will upset and enrage them. The best gift you can give them is the armor of patience. It will help them keep their cool and keep the conversation civil. They will also need love, the most powerful motivation there is. And finally with a smile, they will be able to disarm even the most ferocious foe.

Staff Writer; George Ross

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