I live in NYC. It is, to say the least, a diverse city. On any subway ride, there could be at least five different languages spoken, a least a dozen different nationalities, and every generation is represented. Let's just say Kiddo has seen and heard a lot in her seven years as we travel about our city.
I remember one trip, when there was a lot to see. It was crowded. There were some teens coming home from school, a group of tourists visiting from Japan, many regular folks doing their daily commute. We got off the train and Kiddo said, "The train was packed today with lots of different people." I agreed and was about to say something about the time of day or something, when she added, "But we all take the train."
She found something similar to tie all of the various types of people together. That, they say, is the main way to teach your kids respect -- expose them to different situations and people and then find a commonality. Granted, I didn't do any sort of teaching that day as that was just my kid just chatting about what she observed.
But the experts say, when these moments arise in your world, jump on them and see what convos you can have. It helps our kids' minds to see not just differences, but similarities everywhere...which makes them more apt to approach someone with kindness and empathy in the future. Yeah, a muchmuch better teaching method than just reminding them to do so on the way out the door.
Kiddo's school has a motto (one of many): you don't have to treat everyone as a friend, but you must treat everyone with respect. This is huge, I think, and goes along with this whole chivalrous discussion. In this world, we aren't going to be friends with everyone. We may not like everyone, we may disagree and so on and so forth, and that is okay. But, we should treat everyone with a certain level of respect and expect the same from him or her.
Being open-minded, being aware of differences yet able to find a commonality, being respectful to those you may not even agree with? These traits will help our kids to be successful in school, in their jobs, in relationships...and, hopefully, make our world a little better too.
I'd love to hear what do you think -- share how you teach your kids to have an open mind!
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