Saturday, September 4, 2010

Just stop to think of the power that you have as a parent.

With all the non-stop political flurry a few weeks back,
my 7 year old quite insistently and repeatedly asked who I was going to vote for.
Not that he had any knowledge of what any of it meant.


I remember finding out who my parents voted for when I was a teenager.
Only partly due to political apathy,
that decided my vote for a long time afterwards.
It was mainly due to the influence my parents' view had on my own.

Do you ever stop to think about that?
The huge power, the amazing responsibility that we have on influencing our children's attitudes and their future points of views?
Each and every day.
Whether you are talking about the weather,
the awful driver who just cut you off
or your favourite colour,
your children are listening and absorbing.

I always think how sad and scary it is that to perpetuate bias- racism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance
(and much more)-
 in the next generation is so easy,
simply because children get to hear what their parents may have to say on the matter.

When hubby and I travelled around Europe 10 years ago,
we visited some Holocaust museums.
One of the most heart breaking things I remember seeing
was a young child's reading book in a display cabinet.
It resembled a normal children's reading book,
lovely bright pictures and large text.
But it was propoganda that was written to teach children how horrible Jewish people were.
I can't remember the specifics
but children were being taught, being indocrinated to believe that Jewish people
were "ugly" and "smelly" and inferior.


How could any young child grow up thinking any different
when this is what they were taught to believe?

At this point Goole images offers up photos of young children,
the same age as mine,
dressed in Klu Klux Clan costumes or in homophobic tees.
You can find them if you look.
But I don't want to put them on my blog.

I do hope that I bias my children.

I want them to believe that cigarettes are bad and will kill you.
That acting like an idiot when you are behind the wheel of a car is beyond stupid.
That dirty socks are for the washing basket, not to pile up under the bed till they are in such numbers that they could start a civil revolution.

But I also hope that I can instill in my children the knowledge that,
 deciding to like, respect and love other human beings
 based on their personality
or their sense of humour
or their morals and attitude,
will make them far better human beings than they could otherwise be
if they made the choice based on by someone's race,
socioeconomic status,
physical capabilites or appearance
 or sexual preferences.

A knowledge that it is isn't about tolerating people's differences;
it is about accepting them as the norm.

That is what I hope that I can use my power for.


Tanya said...

Tas, interesting post, because I don't tell my kids how I vote and have been thinking about it over the past few weeks. I am happy to talk about the whys and why nots and issues to consider when choosing who to vote for. I think I have a few adult friends who are hanging onto their parents beliefs without examining them and I don't want my adult children to be like that- I think I am quite into the process (very grey person here, not at all black and white!). I think we need to exercise our influence with caution and respect and be mindful of that power you talk about. Thanks!

Kat said...

Hear hear! Thanks for bringing it up - so important. Hugs, Kat xx

willow and moo said...

Tas, I do think we are the largest influences on our children. IT is very important to remember that. I am mindful of it for a couple of reasons. One is that Steiner education is big on the little ones learn by emulating the adults, so your behaviour around children should always be considered. Have that brought to your attention and then seeing it, you do it is true.

Secondly growing up in a family of "ugly", "smelly" and inferior people, you have a history that you can not escape. Knowing that your great, great aunt was murdered in a pogrom and how you grandmother was scared as a little girl as the KKK marched through her Mississippi town.

willow and moo said...

Far out I'm so tired from the fair that my comment is missing words and punctuation is in the wrong place! Sorry Tas. I think you can fill in the blanks.

Carolyn said...

Tas- I agree! Its amazing what as parents we pass onto our kids without even knowing it. Parenting is such an important job!

Karen said...

What a fabulous throught-provoking post.
I too want to teach my children that they should respect others and judge them based on the person they are, rather than where they come from, what colour their skin is or how much they earn.
Already I have to gently quiet my girls when we walk down the street and they see someone smoking and proclaim loudly about how bad that is for the person (I am strongly anti-smoking!!!!). Already they have learned that it is the person's choice to do that, but know why it is that I think it is a bad life-choice.
The fact that you consider such things suggests to me that your kids have a fantastic learning-ground.