We have found it impossible to discuss politics with some of our friends. They are so vehement in their convictions that exploding opinions makes having a meaningful conversation on the subject impossible. Children in these homes are soaking up their parents' attitudes and the way they are expressing them. Highly opinionated parents tend to produce highly opinionated kids. Instead of allowing their children to work out what is right and wrong when they come to an age of really understanding the issues, the parents are modelling intolerance.
1. We need to accept that other people think differently than we do and that their beliefs have
value to them.
2. We need to think seriously about how we came to believe what we do, and not just because our
parents or significant others held those opinions e.g. "I am voting for X party because our family
has always done so." We need to have rational reasons for our beliefs and share these with our
children as they reach their teens.
3. We need to allow our kids to ask questions and even disagree with us, without us becoming
defensive. We need to listen and therefore give value to our children's ideas and inquiries.
4. We need to seriously evaluate our opinions and attitudes and be graceful in admitting when we
5. We need to be respectful of others even if we strongly disagree with their beliefs.
FORGIVING OTHERS IS A HEALING THINGTerrible atrocities have occurred throughout the world when one group of people rises in power to overcome another e.g. the mass killing of Jews during World War 2 and other ethnic cleansing in more modern times. Admittedly, it takes a huge heart to forgive others in these circumstances, yet it happens over and over again. I have been sincerely touched when I hear a parent forgiving a perpetrator for murdering their child or other family member. Hatred is destructive. It causes a person to constantly smolder over the offense rather than letting it go by forgiving. When a person says, "I will never forgive you," they imagine they have a lifelong hold over that person. What actually happens, is they have imprisoned themselves.
ASKING OTHERS' FORGIVENESS IS ALSO HEALINGIt is often very difficult to admit you were wrong and to utter the words, "I am sorry." It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength of character. We need our children to hear the words, "I am sorry" from us at times. It is important that our children learn to apologize also. The real test of asking forgiveness, is in not repeating the same action again.
By being forgiving and teaching our children this value, we do indeed positively influence the future.
Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families