Today, May 17th, is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
http://dayagainsthomophobia.org/ click to learn more.
First of all, I'd like to apologize if this post is all over the place. While writing this, I'm am just getting over a nasty head cold/flu, whatever that was, and I'm still a bit foggy.
Today, I'd like to talk about teaching children equality. And while I thought that title was okay at first, now I'm thinking it's better said as: lending your children a guiding hand and showing them that everyone is equal.
As a mother of two preteens, actually by the time this posts my daughter will be a teen, I'm often faced with a lot of questions as I'm sure most parents are. While many of those questions are easily answered, there are a few that aren't so easy.
There might be manuals on Parenting. There might be shelves of books on behavior management, child illnesses, and parenting techniques. But some questions and answers can't be covered in a paperback book. Such one issue is how to raise children to believe that everyone is equal regardless.
First, may I say that I have been blessed with a daughter who has always been non-stereotypical, and completely accepting of all. She has many different friends all ranging from different cultures and backgrounds, and even sexual preference. She's always been very open minded, and accepting of everyone.
However, my son is a different story. He also has friends from different cultures and backgrounds. But lately, he's been somewhat disrespectful of anyone GLBT individuals. Including mom.
How to I lend him a guiding hand and show him that anyone under the GLBT rainbow are the same as everyone else?
Certainly, I'm not the know all, say all when it comes to teaching children. I struggle, just as everyone else, but I'd like to share some things that I thought could help.
The first, and most important, is no pressure. I cannot persuade my son to accept everyone today. He's not going to turn his opinions around in a week. That's okay. He's got a long life ahead of him.
The second I found is probably the "do all" for everything. Be prepared to talk and listen. But most importantly, listen. Drop everything your doing and listen when he has a question, or when he talks about his concerns or feelings. My son has ADHD, and he's very vocal. Although a lot of this is "hyper words", I'll even listen to them for clues. I gently talk to him about his word choices, but I won't pressure or punish.
I also understand that by the time he's a teenager, I won't be the most influential voice in his life. He has friends, peers, that may be very vocal on their feelings. Yes, peer pressure is commonplace in everything, not just alcohol and drug use. His friends might curse and make fun of GLBT individuals at school or at social functions. And my child may do the same to look good, even though that is not the way he truly feels.
Anti-bullying programs. It's hard to tell at this point if he's going to be a bully in the future. But it's a great time to get proactive in bullying programs. Schools have these for students and parents. I admit, I need to look them up in my region. Also speaking to the teacher(s) about behavior with other students during PT conferences will also indicate if there could be bullying problems later on.
Some other things I've thought of:
Show the love. If you're friends either online or in person with GLBT individuals, talk about them. Not personally, but simply say something like: "My friend (or coworker, or new acquaintance) and I are going out to have coffee." Or "We're going to walk in the pride parade." Show your support. Attend GLBT functions, and let your child(ren) know why. "I'm going to rally in support of gay marriage." Then, be prepared to listen as your child(ren) may or may not have some questions.
Get your significant other involved or friends/family. I don't mean drag them to a rally. My boyfriend would stop in his tracks before we get to the door. What I mean talk to them, if they're open to it. Let them know how important it is to you that your child(ren) believe in equality. Ask them to refrain from possible derogatory remarks within your child's presence, or refrain from other discussion that might seem negative.
And, who knows, maybe they'd love to go to a rally or a parade.
I know there might be more tips, so I'd like to hear from readers. What are some other ways to lend that guiding hand?
Also, as a giveaway, one lucky commenter can win a $10 gift certificate to AllRomance Ebooks or OmniLit. All you need to do is comment with a working email address between May 17th and May 27th.
I'll draw one name from a hat and contact the winner after May 27th.
Don't forget to visit all the blogs participating in this wonderful event. Here is the list of all active and participating blogs so you can click on the next one with ease. Enjoy!