In light of the horrific acts in Charlottesville, it got me thinking a lot about how I want to raise my children. We are taught from a very young age what to think of other people; especially those different from us. It’s something that is learned from those around us.
I have to admit, I’ve never suffered from prejudice. I grew up as a white, Christian, middle-class girl in the suburbs. Yes, I am married to a woman, but I’ve, fortunately, never experienced hatred. I was discriminated against once by a photographer who refused to take pictures of my family because we were gay, but that’s really the extent of it (her loss because our family is adorable!).
I cannot imagine going through life, day in and day out, feeling that way that I felt that one day with the photographer. We are all children of God or the Universe (whatever you choose to call it) and I wish that everyone would remember that.
I was actually nervous to have kids because i didn’t want to bring them into the world we live in where there is so much hate + violence. Yes, there are a million beautiful things, but the world has gotten scary recently. That being said, maybe my children – or your children – will be the ones to change the world. To start a movement towards acceptance + connection. THAT is how I choose to think about my children + our world. And that is how I will raise them.
So how will I raise my children? First + foremost, to lead with kindness. I want my son (and future children) to recognize that you never know what someone else is going through. Secondly, to lead with LOVE. No matter what color, sex, sexuality, age, socioeconomic class – we are all made of love + should be treated as such.
He will already have two moms, so he will be surrounded by people who are open + accepting around various sexualities. That being said, the reality is, he may be made fun of one day for having two moms and it pains me to even think that for one second. This is why I want to raise him to be strong, confident and so full of self-love that words won’t hurt him.
I plan to sit down with our son when he is a bit older and discuss the things that happen in the world. I want him to understand what has happened in history (he is the great-grandson of a Holocaust survivor and that is something to be so very proud of), how things have progressed, but how things have also stayed the same. I want him to choose to take a stand for the less fortunate. To choose to accept everyone around him. To choose to LOVE. My job is to lead by example – to show him how I do the same and to surround him with people who are loving as well.
I also got to thinking that I am so grateful that I was born into my family. Many of these white supremacists + terrorists were taught their beliefs from a very young age. They were taught to hate black people, gays, Americans. So while their acts make me angry, I feel compassion towards their younger selves – for they were children once too. Children born into a family full of hate + anger and it really makes me sad.
I’m reading The Four Agreements and the first agreement is all about being impeccable with your word – how words have so much power. And this is so true – Hitler started a war with his words, Martin Luther King, Jr. changed the fate of African Americans with his speeches, Edie Windsor knocked down DOMA by fighting for marriage equality. Words can lead to good or evil. They can break a nation or bring one together. They can shatter glass ceilings or knock down barriers.
So I’m starting to be more cognizant of the words that I am using. Not only for my son, but also for myself. For what we say + hear is what we start to believe.
The old adage, think before you speak, is actually so true + important. Choose love. Spread love. SMILE at strangers. Be the start of a ripple effect around the world. It can truly start with you TODAY.