We are increasingly at odds with one another. It can be increasingly obvious as the United States continues in such a bipartisan split. What’s important in raising our children is to teach them to understand, to learn, to question, and to never just take things at face value. Exposing our children to diversity in religious, cultures, beliefs, languages, backgrounds, abilities, and appearances, can help them to become more accepting and understanding as they grow into adults.
As a parent we should want our children to grow up with an open mind, accepting of all differences, not just tolerant.
What does it mean to be open-minded?
The definition of open minded is the willingness to consider new ideas and to be unprejudiced. This includes being receptive to a wide variety of ideas, arguments, and information.
The world is very polarized. There are many topics, many that are political and many that should not be political, that separate people with differing opinions. When it becomes so easy to just take sides many within these polarized groups can grow defensive and closed off to listening and learning about the other point of view.
It’s okay to teach our children to create their own opinions and feel strongly for them, but in order to really take a knowledgeable stand they should be willing to learn about other sides to every story, culture, religion, and political topic. That takes being open-minded. Willing to learn and willing to change their opinion if they’re faced with new research, information, or points of view that agree with their own reasoning.
Why is open-mindedness important?
There are many benefits to being open minded. They include:
- Gaining insight, being able to challenge your existing beliefs can help you gain insight about the world, people, cultures, and so many different groups and situations.
- Being open to new ideas can help you remain open to new experiences as well.
- Having an open mind helps you grow as a person. Willing to learn and change your own opinions and beliefs based on new information.
- When someone remains closed-minded it often leads them to greater negativity. Open-mindedness helps you remain positive and optimistic.
What do you need to remember as you our raising your children!?
Set the Example
Children observe and learn directly from their parents first and foremost. In order to teach them to be accepting of other cultures, ideas, religions, people, you need to do so openly every day. Watch what you say even if they are meant as “jokes” or off-handed remarks.
Expose your children to different races and cultures. As a family, participate in different community activities, festivals, and religions. Try different foods.
Answer Questions Honestly
When a question comes up about a person, activity, or religion answer them honestly and if you do not know the answer, look it up and learn with your child about something new.
Take the Chance to Teach Your Child When the Moments Arise
Every day you will come across teachable moments. If you hear your child repeat something rude or offensive stop them and discuss why it is so. Do not ignore any comment. Point out prejudices and stereotypes in tv shows, movies, as you’re standing at the store, or any other instances that will show before you.
Encourage Your Child to be Friends with Those Who Are Not Like Them
Encourage your child to make friends with other kids who are not like them. This includes races, religions, and abilities. Encourage them to sit with the child sitting by themselves.
Teach Them How to Listen
It’s important that you listen without judgment or prejudice in order to truly understand another’s opinion or point of view.
Teach Them to Question Everything
Your child should learn to question everything that is taught to them. Why is something the way it is? Should it be different? Does it make sense to their own reasoning and understanding, their own understanding of morals? Does the history back the lesson taught? All of these questions can be hard when you’re teaching your child, they make you grow yourself, make you look for answers you don’t know. This is good. Find the answers and learn with them. This will also help you grow this closeness as you learn together.