Man, it’s been beyond chilly in California. (Mid-westerners, no snide chuckles, please. I don’t care what your definition of winter is, 23 degrees is cold.) But still, I’m into this. I love watching the dogs romping in the 5 pm sunset over at the park. I love making soup and lighting candles in my living room now packed with plants wintering inside. I love how business meetings get pushed off til January and that most people are down-shifting to a family-oriented gear. With our first grandchild on the way, I’m thinking more about the chain of love, life and the power we have, generation to generation… to teach kids to be kind, compassionate and open-minded. To help you do that, here’s an excerpt from my parenting book, Teaching Kids to Be Good People.
We assume we know so much more about other folks than we actually do. Teaching kids to be good people includes helping them understand how biases get in the way of knowing who people really are, what they need, and how we can help them (because that’s what we’re here for.)
From the We’re on This Speck Together file comes some food for thought from Carl Sagan: “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.” Think back to middle or high school. What did your peers assume about you that wasn’t true? How do imagine those assumptions affected people’s relationships with you? Think about a former classmate who had a certain “reputation” which led you to have certain assumptions about him/her. How did your assumptions color your behavior toward that person?
• Talk with your child(ren) about the concept of the “judge” within us who rates other people mostly in terms of what we like/admire about them and what we don’t. Discuss how unfair it can feel to be judged, especially when the “judges” don’t really know us.
• Make a pledge to monitor your “judgmental” thoughts more carefully between now and New Year’s Day. Try to catch those critical thoughts before they become words. Each time we let The Judge put someone down, we stack another brick in the wall of misunderstanding. With less judging, we get to know each other better. Let’s teach kids to build bridges, not walls.