So I was just watching a live video by a blogger that I follow, during which she was talking about racism and how we as parents have a duty to teach our children how to be accepting of each others differences. While I absolutely agree with her that it is our responsibility to raise our children to be kind, respectful human beings, sometimes the younger generation are the ones that are teaching these lessons to others and perhaps we need to stop and listen for a minute to what these voices of the future are telling us.
I was reminded of something that happened a couple of years ago, when The Youngest Child used her voice to teach others an important lesson and I wanted to share the story with you.
The Youngest Child’s classroom was on the top floor of the school building and every afternoon, at home time, the children would line up ready to leave the room to meet their parents. As they were lining up, through the window they had a clear view of the path that the parents would walk along, as they came onto the grounds to collect their children. Each day they would see a particular mother walking down the path. This lady was a Muslim and she chose to wear a Niqab, which covered her head and body, leaving the area around her eyes clear. On this particular day, some of the children began to make comments about the way the lady was dressed, using derogatory terms and making assumptions about her way of life. The Youngest Child found this extremely offensive and made her feelings quite clear to the other children. When she came home she told me what had happened and said that she wished to speak to the headteacher about it and could I make an appointment for her! Dutifully I emailed the school to explain what had happened and requested that she be able to speak to the headteacher the following morning.
The next day, The Youngest Child was invited to the headteachers office, where she proceeded to explain what had happened. She made it quite clear to the headteacher that the lady in question has the freedom to wear what she wants and to practise whatever religion that she chooses, without having to suffer people making unkind comments about her. The headteacher listened to what she had to say and commended her for having the confidence to speak up for something that she had witnessed but did not agree with. She was 9 years old at the time.
Subsequently the whole class took part in discussions about the issue of prejudice and the importance of being respectful towards other people, and so a whole group of children learnt something important that day.
I was extremely proud of The Youngest Child, that she had used her voice to do the right thing. I hadn’t had any major conversations with her about prejudice, however I would like to think that our moral outlook as a family, had helped to shape her into the positive, open-minded person that she was clearly becoming. She has always been feisty, argumentative, outspoken and determined. Traits that, dealing with as a parent can be frustrating and exhausting, but traits that are allowing her to stand up for what she believes is right and to speak up for those who she feels are being discriminated against. Perhaps we can all learn from these voices of the future and have the confidence to use our own voices to speak out, when we see acts of prejudice and injustice in our day to day lives.