Yesterday evening, after Sausage had got her pyjamas on and cleaned her teeth, we snuggled on the sofa for her to doze off while Husband and I watched a re-run of Hairy Bikers, the one where they travelled around Bavaria, baking and doing all the usual stuff that the Hairy Bikers do. During the show we were talking about how much we’d love to take Sausage to Munich; Husband’s been before and I’ve wanted to go for a while, and Sausage suddenly piped up and said “Yeah, I also want to go to Russia!”. Husband and I immediately explained that, unless Russia changed their laws and opinions regarding homosexuality, then we’d never be going to Russia.
For us, teaching Sausage about what’s going on in Russia and explaining the situation is second nature. I’ve blogged before about our ‘no bullshit’ policy when it comes to her, and this is just an extension of that, but it did get me wondering how many other 5 year olds are being raised to have a social conscience .
As far as we’re concerned, if Sausage is old enough to question something, then it’s our responsibility as parents to explain things to her in a way she can understand. It would be so easy for us to just gloss over everything and let her come upon this information as she gets older, but it should be an intrinsic part of parenting to step up to the mark on issues like this.
We do our best to teach her love and tolerance in the hope that instilling these values from a young age will make them second nature, rather than something that has to be learned later in life. More than anything, I feel that teaching tolerance will make her life easier in the long run, she won’t spend her time questioning why people are the way they are, she’ll simply accept difference without even knowing she’s accepting anything.
Sometimes, when Sausage plays with her Barbies, she’ll pair them up with her action man and they’ll be ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’ in her game, but in the last year or so, she’s also started pairing Barbies up with each other and having them be ‘girlfriend and girlfriend’. I couldn’t be more proud of her for being able to open her mind more than many full-grown adults are able to and her willingness to embrace diversity is what I hope will help her to lead a fulfilled and happy life.
So, what of children who are raised by parents who fear and oppose difference? I’m not saying that I was raised in a household of peace and love as a child, I remember hearing things which go firmly against what I believe now, so I do have hope that it’s not an ever decreasing circle of prejudice as those children emerge into adulthood, but I also think that parents should be doing more to instil tolerance as a key value in their children. And further to tolerance should be teaching our kids to stand by their morals and saying ‘NO’ to countries like Russia.
Having said that, I’ve also had others question my parenting in the past and suggest that Sausage doesn’t need to know anything about homosexuality, which I found ridiculous. What do you think? Do you skirt around issues rather than explaining them? Do you ‘protect’ your child from the realities of the world, favouring the ‘they can learn when they’re older’ approach? Leave me a comment below.
And if you find it difficult to get your head around the idea of tolerance, watch this clip. The story about Winston Churchill absolutely warmed my cockles and made me very proud to be British!