It can be easy to fall into your normal routines and beliefs without so much as a second glance to what someone else may believe or be experiencing. But it can be detrimental to you and your family if you are always stuck in your own mindset and belief system. It can be a great learning experience for your kids to see and participate in other secular activities, or to at least be aware of how many there are today.
Kids grow up noticing differences, whether it be in how someone looks or the clothes they wear, or even how they walk. As parents, we can use these opportunities to explain how someone may walk different because of an injury or birth defect, but that they are still just as capable as anyone else. Growing up seeing these differences without any explanation may form ideas in your kid’s heads that may not be completely correct. It’s our duty as parents to have these conversations so children can feel comfortable with someone who may have a harder time talking (such as when English may be their second language), but that your child can still be patient and listen to understand. The same can go for someone else’s belief system, whether it is a viewpoint on life, how they perceive the world, or even religion.
This can be especially true during the holiday season, where there are many different religions practicing different holidays, although Christmas takes center stage. For many kids, it can seem like a no-brainer that everybody would celebrate Christmas and may seem a little confused if someone does not celebrate Christmas, but Hannukah or Kwanza, for example. They just assume that whatever they believe or celebrate is the norm, and may not understand that there are a billion and one other beliefs out in the big world. Explain at a young age how everyone can feel and believe whatever they want to believe, and to be respectful of that.
Of course, be sure to also explain to your kids the power of finding out more information if they want to. It is always nice to give your kids a lesson on other country’s or people’s beliefs. Explain to them what some other religions believe, and whether they celebrate it in any way during the year. At the very least, they can have a rudimentary understanding. And if they happen upon a child who believes in something other than what your kid believes, make sure your child is respectful when asking questions about the other child’s belief system so they do not feel judged.