In a recent conversation with a (child free) friend about teaching kids respect, she said ''What I am fascinated by is the absolute hatred in some people for a particular type of person - particularly when they are parents, or want to be - and yet have no idea how their child may be in adulthood. Will they love that child or be proud of them? What pressure goes on a child to be a certain way, or to not become what the parents despise? How does that pressure show itself in a child?''
As the parent of two inquisitive kids, I am often confronted with some tricky questions - why do they believe that Mum? Why is that person fat? What does gay mean? You know the stuff... I want to raise my children to be tolerant of others, to accept differences but to remain true to their own beliefs and values. So this poses an interesting question:
If there's a particular belief/lifestyle choice/view that I strongly disagree with, how might that affect the way I parent? What if YOUR child grew up to be the ''someone'' who chose to live a lifestyle you found totally offensive? For example, what if they are a supporter of a political party you abhor, or in a religion you find unacceptable, or chose a path - stumbled into a path - you didn't understand and couldn't condone - atheist, gay, obese, drug addict, alcoholic, criminal, bankrupt, hermit, abuser. Whatever. Its not an exhaustive list, and it's not my own personal record of no goes - just some examples to get you thinking.
My own view is that it is imperative to teach some tolerance, with boundaries, to our children. So that might mean explaining the impact or consequences of certain behaviours, but giving children the freedom to choose a path for themselves. Which is all very idealistic when the child is 7 or 8, and less realistic as they approach adulthood. My main concern is that I do not allow any hatred to form, particularly when it relates to people who are different to ourselves - and yet make it clear that there are certain behaviours (as opposed to beliefs/values/inborn characteristics) that are not OK.
How about you? Do you have a no go area? Is it ok for children to know their parents own prejudices? Are there prejudices you are aware you are passing onto your children? Why?