Teaching Children Love and Acceptance

Yesterday evening, as we were getting ready for bed, WB said something to me that made me stop what I was doing, wrap him in a hug, and feel completely blessed to have him in my life. 

"I love all the people!"

"I love all the people"

That was it. Out of nowhere, he just suddenly said those 5 little words, and my heart exploded. On any given day, I would have loved to hear those words, but yesterday they seemed so incredibly important. 

You see, here in the UK we just voted to leave the EU. There are so many articles about the EU Referendum (commonly known as "Brexit") and what the result means, so I'm not going to go into this now. But what I do want to say is that the entire campaign has been marred by fear-mongering on both sides of the table, and the atmosphere over here has become pretty toxic of late. 

The entire nation has become divided over this key issue - should we remain a part of the EU or leave, and the arguments for each side have been based more on heightened emotions than quantifiable stats, and playing on people's emotions is never a good thing. So it is hardly any surprise that with a result of 51.9% for leaving and 48.1% for remaining, the nation would continue to feel divided after the Referendum was over.

Put this into a wider context, with the murder of Jo Cox last week (one of our MPs), and the shooting in Orlando earlier this month, and it's clear to see that fear and division are a major part of our world today. And it can feel like an incredibly dangerous and scary world in which to raise our children, can't it? But it doesn't have to be so...

If WB's comment yesterday teaches me anything it's this - love has no boundaries, except the ones we put there. WB has no knowledge of all the division in our world and so his beautiful, innocent heart has absolutely no problem in expressing how much he loves all the people, just like that. It's his natural response and I want to ensure that he keeps hold of that even as he grows older and discovers the division in our world.

I want that heart of his to continue to shine, bringing love to the world to heal those divisions, rather than being dulled by it. What a huge and overwhelming task that feels right now, but what an honour it is to do so.

In some ways it feels like the title of this blog post is wrong - I'm not so much teaching WB about Love and Acceptance as I am empowering him to keep hold of that which he already has. But our children learn from how we live our lives and what we do and say, so in that respect I am teaching him about Love and Acceptance through the things I do. 

I initially intended this post to be one with a list of ideas, things like involving your kids in local causes and talking to them about politics, but it ended up being much more about how that love and acceptance already exists in their hearts. Those things are, of course, important but I've come to realise that our role is not so much to teach them about it, but rather to ensure that they continue to be able to express it throughout their lives.

I'm going to leave you with one last thought, from one of WB's favourite books at the moment "The Sneetches and other stories" by Dr. Seuss. The first story ends with this:

But McBean was quite wrong, I’m quite happy to say
That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day,
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars
And whether they had one, or not, upon thars
— Dr Seuss

And then the following story, "The Zax" ends quite differently:

‘Never budge!’ That’s my rule. ‘Never budge in the least!
Not an inch to the west! Not an inch to the east!
I’ll stay here, not budging! I can and I will
If it make you and me and the whole world stand still!’

Well...
Of course the world didn’t stand still. The world grew.
In a couple of years, the new highway came through
And they built it right over those two stubborn Zax
And left them there, standing un-budged in their tracks.
— Dr Seuss

Well... I know which I'd rather be like! He's a clever one, that Dr Seuss!

I'd love to hear from you about how you are teaching (and learning from) your kids about love and acceptance - Do you talk about it? Are there books or films you feel express these two things in a way kids can truly understand? Or do you feel totally lost?

1 Comment

Amanda Shortman

I'm a 30-something mum to one, blogging her way through the completely beautiful and yet utterly confusing world of faith and spirituality. Ever since I started uni I've been on a journey of self-discovery that has led me to where I am today, somewhere between liberal Christianity and New Age Metaphysics, with a deep interest in interfaith dialogue. My greatest hope is to raise my son in a way that engenders confidence to find and walk his own path in life.