Your Values, My Kids | Giftie Etcetera: Your Values, My Kids

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Your Values, My Kids

In our home, we value kindness, intelligence, and compassion. We try to guide our children, first and foremost, in treating everyone with dignity and respect.

We also teach, though, that a person can lose your respect and that, should that happen, the person should not regain respect easily, but should have to make amends and take time and effort to earn that respect back.

Duggars, values, off topic, parenting

Now that my kids are six and nine, it is getting more and more difficult to deal with the values of those outside of our immediate family. After all, I want my kids to continue to act with kindness, intelligence, and compassion, but I don't want them to go so far as to believe whatever others tell them. After all, kindness doesn't always mean agreement or saying yes.

But I struggle with teaching that when they are now interacting with so many people while physically separate from mom and dad.

A teacher once made a comment about the president being a "murderer" to my first grader during pro-life week at my kid's Catholic school. (The school took appropriate and swift action, much to my pleasant surprise.) A relative regularly uses the n-word in front of my children. Once, someone who my child is supposed to respect commented that my child better not come home with someone of a different race or of the same gender. They said it in front of my child!

I spoke up each time, but my kids are getting old enough that they need to learn to speak up, too.

I'm teaching the kids to respond by balancing their kindness, intelligence, and compassion for the person that they are speaking to WITH kindness, intelligence, and compassion for those being talked about. In other words, a politician, a person of color, or a gay couple deserve the same respect that the person speaking deserves, even if the speaker is a teacher or grandma.

(Yes, I did just say that politicians deserve human dignity! I'm a softie like that!)

But is that too much to expect from a child? On one hand, I want my child strong enough to say, kindly but firmly, "that language is racist. I'm not going to listen to it." But what happens when the person doesn't respond to my kid with kindness? Can I expect my kid to keep standing up?

I think I have to.

After all, the biggest danger to my child is not television or their peers. Instead, I worry most about the people that they are supposed to respect, who teach them unhealthy values with good intent, but values that we do not hold. My kids can see bad people on T.V. and easily recognize them as bad. But "good" people can fool you.

I don't want a preacher telling my kids that Jesus is the only way to salvation. (Catholics believe that someone who has no religion, or is even an atheist, but follows his/her conscience, is saved.)

Instead, I want kids who say, "good people are good people, regardless of their religion."

I don't want a well-meaning relative to tell my kids that people who are transgender are "weird" or that LGBT folks are "bad."

I want kids who say, "stop judging people for their love for others." 

I don't want a great aunt to talk about "black people" deserving to get shot in the streets.
I want kids who say, "no one deserves to die." 

I don't want a friend to comment on how she does all the housework.

I want kids who say, "here, let me do the dishes" regardless of their gender.

It's the Duggar problem. I love 19 Kids and Counting, but I don't think it's healthy to not date (preferably for a long time) before getting engaged. We don't have their brand of Christianity, and because of that, I sometimes worry more about my kids watching these clearly nice people and learning the wrong lessons from them than I worry about my kids watching Futurama.

At least, with Futurama, my nine year can articulate, "this is NOT appropriate." And, much to my shame, my six year old can question, "we don't say 'kiss my shiny metal ***, do we, Mommy?" No son, we do not. Parenting fail.

With the Duggars, I find myself saying, over and over, "Mom and Dad don't believe that." But they seem so sweet and nice that it's easy to assume they are doing things right and, just maybe, Mom and Dad are doing things wrong. That scares me.

I want to raise kids who value character over race, gender, gender identity, sexual identity, or even religion. But the well meaning people make it a struggle for me.

Character, for us, is about how a person acts, and rarely about what a person believes. (I make an exception for actively hateful beliefs.)

Unless I lock my kids inside of the home, they will keep stumbling upon people with very different values than mine. What is a mom to do?


P.S. See Giftie at:

 All Kinds of Things


KariP said...

Passing on a lesson learned – the road of parenthood, is a bumpy one. The highs, are high, but the lows are equally low. All we can do is hang on, and trust that somewhere inside our precious children, those lessons are alive and well learned. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

The Duggars are NOT nice people. They are full of hate. Please tell you children that nice people do not hate.

Anonymous said...

You can't stand on a soap box and say how tolerant you are while talking bout bad people. That's casting the first stone, don't you think?

Starla J. said...

Parenting is hard. We all do the best we can and pray for the best for our kiddos. Praying over their lives and that God will lead them to be all that He created them to be.

Giftie Etcetera said...

The Duggars are certainly nice in the sense of treating each other with kindness. I worry about how they treat others, but the kids never see that.

Thea said...

Thankfully, regardless of outside pressure, what happens inside the home is still the major determinant of how children behave outside of itt.

Generally I find that explaining WHY you think the way you do about something rather than just saying do this, say that etc, is very effective. Even better is getting the child themselves to articulate why they think the way they do.

Then, at some point you just have to trust that your children will do the right thing, and let them know that you trust that they will.

There is nothing wrong with a soapbox. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

From the sounds of it, I think you are all okay.

Giftie Etcetera said...

I don't think I said I was tolerant. For example, I have zero tolerance for racism or sexism. Zero. And since the intolerance of people based on their own hatred comes AFTER they hate, I'd say it's casting the second stone.

Still, we, in my household, don't STONE or harm racist people. As an attorney, I even have had opportunity to protect the First Amendment right to free speech (even hateful speech that I disagree with). I leave if such speech occurs in front of the children, but sometimes, they won't be able to leave. I expect them to stand up for right, but in a polite way.

None of that is the same as stoning, which in biblical times (and some places on modern Earth still), meant serious injury or death.

I do not subscribe to the death penalty for being a bad person.

Anna said...

My oldest is 15, so this is something that I have thought about for quite a few years! I also want my kids to treat everyone with respect, and it has been hard at times for them to process someone who they respect overall but does things they know are wrong. (Like mistreating someone in front of the kids, lying, etc.) It's hard to explain exactly without writing paragraphs! We have to talk about how people aren't perfect, that we can love the person without agreeing with them, things like that.

We live more isolated (in Congo & an isolated area of the Congo) so we aren't exposed to a lot of current things- like the Duggars. All I know about them is that they have a lot of kids! But living in another culture helps you talk about culture and beliefs, and respecting another culture and differences without believing it yourself.

For the most part we are going to be considerate & not offensive, but there are times when you have to speak up. For example, we will dress more modestly than we believe is necessary so that we don't cause offense. But on issues like domestic abuse, we will disagree with the culture and say that it is wrong. (Here it is perfectly acceptable, even thought needed for a husband to hit his wife- or wives.)

More than teaching my kids WHAT to believe, I want to teach them basic principles to use in life and base decisions on that. I hope that I can always provide a safe place for them to talk about those things and think them through. And I hope that they will know they are loved even if they decide on different beliefs than I have.

Unknown said...

That is a tough question. Everyone believes different things and it can be difficult to teach your own morals to children once they get older. We can only do our best to teach our children the best morals and beliefs that we believe in.
Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids