Young children are accepting of everyone . . . until they learn that it is not acceptable to accept everyone. My son had a friend in elementary school who’s mother made a life decision to live her truth. When she left her husband for another person, it was not for another man, it was for a woman. In our small town, even though it is a well educated town with a rather large gay and lesbian community, this became a minor scandal for some parents gathering to pick up their children from school. I hadn’t ever broached the subject of sexual preference with my son, but I knew that it was now time to do so. I knew he would hear gossip and I didn’t want him to learn that this life choice was unacceptable. It just so happened that at that time, Rosie O’Donnell had an HBO documentary about a Gay and Lesbian Cruise that she and her family had organized. When my son came home from school that day, I sat him down and explained the choice his friend’s mother had made. At first he was shocked and confused and thought he should respond with disgust. It seems that he was already being programmed to hate people just because they were different from him. Children are not raised in a bubble. The environment and people around them affect their thinking. It is a parent’s job to be there to answer the tough questions and to correct misinformation.
I told him that I had a television program that I wanted him to watch and showed him the documentary that Rosie O’Donnell had made. I sat with him and explained that families were just families. He watched as the passengers of the cruise left the ship at various ports and were treated with disrespect by people who knew they were from a Gay and Lesbian Cruise. He saw the fear on the children’s faces when they were subjected to unprovoked hated from strangers. He saw the ugliness of prejudice against people simply because they were members of a different type of family. His attitude changed immediately.
Hate is learned. Fear is learned. Acceptance can be learned too.
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy