Children are like wet cement; whatever falls on them makes an impression.
– Haim Ginott
It starts at home.
The first time I slipped up and dropped a four letter word and my son repeated it, I knew this to be true. For better or worse, the things that we say and do are reflected in and by our kids. So, why would that not also be true when it comes to things like bias and prejudice?
Regularly I see stories posted on Facebook that look too outrageous or unbelievable to be true. I came across one recently and had to do some personal research to fact-check. Unfortunately, my research found the story to be 100% true. Ronin Shimizu was a 12 year old boy. He enjoyed cheerleading. However, since this isn’t considered the “norm”, he was bullied for it. He was bullied so much, in fact, that he ended up taking his own life. Over what? Cheerleading? Certainly we’re not that dense as a population that we can’t wrap our heads around a boy wanting to be involved in cheerleading. Certainly we’re not so petty as to allow this to be the basis for ridicule.
But, alas, we are. At least in this case.
Sure, kids can be cruel. We’ve all seen how that works. Hell, a lot of us have been on the wrong end of that cruelty (I found out early on that I was not at an acceptable height for a lot of folks). Here’s the bothersome part, though: kids don’t come equipped with knowledge like this. It’s learned. My 3 year old son has no idea what it means to be short or why it even matters. He doesn’t understand the rationale of some that “only girls should be involved in cheerleading”. Further, if my wife and I are doing our jobs, these things won’t ever occur to him by virtue of any lesson we do teach.
“It starts at home.” This comment was attached the original posting I saw on Facebook, and it struck me as patently true and poignant. We’ve got to do a better job of showing our kids how to love and how to show compassion and empathy. Without those values, the cycle of judgment and hate will continue to repeat itself.
It starts at home.
Have an awesome Wednesday,