Raising Nuanced Kids in a Polarized World
Most of us will loudly proclaim our desire for kind kids. For kids who can see things from others’ perspectives, who can walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. But what does this mean?
It means sitting at the dinner table with our teens and tweens and asking them why they think people are kneeling at NFL games. What message are they trying to send? Why are they willing to take that risk?
It means talking about why some find the kneeling offensive. How might kneeling affect veterans and their families? Why are some willing to boycott their beloved sport for this reason and not others?
It means talking about symbols and what they represent. It means discussing what it means for America to be the land of the free and home of the brave. It means talking about where we succeed in this as a country and where we fall short.
It means asking your eight-year old why she thinks the girls on the other soccer team are making fun of her team. It means asking her how she feels and when she answers, telling her you don’t ever want her to make someone else feel that way. That character will always be more important than winning in your family.
When your four-year old comes home from preschool and starts telling you about a kid who’s being mean to him and all the other kids, it means talking about that kiddo with respect instead of labeling him. It means assuming the best of his parents and their parenting instead of deciding he must be one of the those kids who rules the roost. It means asking your kid if he feels the teachers are keeping him safe or if he’d like you to talk to them about it.
It means asking questions, trying to figure out why people feel the way they do, and listening to others’ perspectives. It means sorting through our own baggage and desire to reduce complex issues, emotions, and perspectives to memes and insults. It means looking at Jesus’ life and example of seeing beyond the exterior.
Pretty soon our kids will become a generation of adults. A generation born and bred on sarcastic memes, 140-character jabs and echo chambers. Unless we, as their parents, raise them on respectful conversation, good questions, and broad perspectives.
What will we choose?
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