Teaching Tolerance – A Parenting Decision

My father was a racist.  I love my father and miss him still, even though he’s been gone for many years, but that does not change the facts.  He was a racist.  There’s a parenting decision, though, that made him different than your run of the mill bigot.  It’s a very good thing.

My father realized that while his views were not uncommon in small town Alabama when he was growing up, times had changed. His children were not growing up in the 1940’s, nor were his children in that little town in Alabama. Our own town was becoming more racially diverse, et cetera. For him to teach bigotry to his children would have been a disservice to us.

He made a point of not spreading his bigotry to his children.

So how does a bigot teach tolerance? Through careful moments of quiet embarrassment.

I remember hearing my father use the “n” word when I was small. I also remember him teaching us that it was a bad word, and a time came when he stopped using that word himself.

Racism isn’t genetic.  Hatred is not a family value.  Bigotry is taught the same way that tolerance is taught: a series of parenting decisions that may more may not have the consequences intended.  My father could have very easily raised a bunch of little future bigots who proudly pushed their bigotry on other people.  While he himself did not change his views, he did his best to encourage us to be not like him.  He also insisted that children were to be exempted from whatever racism their parents may experience.

It’s strange and confusing, but it just goes to show that it is entirely possible to make a conscious parenting decision to end racism.

Have you seen bigotry in your own family?  How did your family prevent the spread of bigotry?

A Bikini, Jessica Simpson, and a Parenting Controversy,

I do not comb the Internet looking for parenting controversy involving famous parents.  Honest.  However, it seems like my Google news feed loves nothing more than a parenting controversy that centers around a parenting decision made by someone with more zeroes in their bank account than I have in mine.

This time it was Jessica Simpson who made the news.

The headline that caught my eye didn’t even mention anything about the singer/actor/designer/whatever else she may be.  It was “What kind of mother parades her baby on TV in a string bikini?

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