This past week my children came home from school repeating political rhetoric they no doubt heard from classmates at school. Instead of counter with our opinion, we chose to have a conversation about it.
I can’t scroll through my Facebook feed without seeing it. Trump is refusing access to Syrian refugees. Trump wants to build a wall on the boarder of the United States and Mexico. Trump wants to use tax-payer’s money to do so. Trump is misunderstood. Trump is the anti-Christ. Give Trump a chance. Here’s what Trump’s executive order really means. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah….and blah! I just want to see what people are up to on Facebook! Is that too much to ask?
Truth is, I can ignore it all. Trust me. I’m really good at ignoring stuff I don’t want to listen to, or discuss. I rarely watch TV news, and I don’t care who won what reality TV show contest or gave what rose to what girl. But since my kids, who live in our multi-racial family, go to school outside of the home, they’re hearing all of the refugee ban and wall talk too. Not on Facebook, not on their USA Today app….from classmates. Elementary-age classmates who no doubt heard it from their parents.
Let me be clear- I do care about the ban, the wall, and Trump’s election. In fact, I have some very strong opinions on all of it. But, I’m not going to share them in this post. My opinions are not the point. Nor are they the point when my children come home spouting rhetoric they heard from their classmates, who heard it from their parents, who spend way too much time watching cable news and believing everything they say. The point is what I can teach my children in the middle of all of this. And that’s precisely what we’re doing. We’ve decided to put our personal political opinions (even though we have them), aside and have 3 critical conversations with our children…
- A Conversation About Equality. The most important thing we want our children to learn through this recent election, last year’s police shootings, the recent Women’s March, and #NoBanNoWall is that every single human being, whether they are black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Syrian, Iranian, Iraqi, Haitian, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, female or male, gay or straight, religious or not, is equal. E-Q-U-A-L. There is no lesser than, or greater than…there’s just equal. If we, as adults and parents, represent this truth to the best of our ability to our children, they will see the truth in everything being said and done in our country, and the world, right now. One more thing we’re teaching them- when you fear someone or something without reason, or just because you were told to, you are behaving unequally.
- A Conversation About American History. We live in the land of the free, and the home of the brave. This is a country that was built on the backs of hard-working, honest immigrants who came to our soil looking for the opportunity they, and every other human being on planet earth, deserves. Our forefathers designed a nation where tired, poor, hungry, abused, homeless, and fearful could find solace. This is what makes our land great. This what makes America beautiful. This is the dream our forefathers had for this great land. Not that we insulate ourselves, but that we throw open the gates to help those who are oppressed and mistreated around the world. I want my children to have this perspective toward the human race. I want them to have hearts that help, and spirits that propel them toward those in desperate need.
- A Conversation About Biblical Principles. Our family holds true to the teachings of Jesus in the book of Matthew, Chapter 25- “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:37-46, NLT)
I don’t ever, ever, ever want to find myself on the wrong side of the Lord’s judgement because I turned someone away who was in need…who had less than I had…who needed help, or longed for hope. This is a truth we will live and die on. The truth is, some of our children could have been homeless, or left for dead, or alone and cold on the streets. They could have found themselves oppressed, unfairly judged, or mistreated. They could have been the least of these that Jesus describes. But they weren’t. And because of this, we are raising them to see the world without boundary, without division, and without walls. We are raising them to care deeply for the least of these.
So, no, we’re not filling their heads with our opinions, or political rhetoric. We’re teaching them equality, what true American values are, and the words of Jesus Himself. We’re teaching them to extend the same freedom they’ve been given. After all, there is no greater privilege.
Question: What conversations are you having with your children? Share with us in the comment section of this post. You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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