Teaching Our Children to Be Allies
How a simple outing became a lesson about tolerance.
“Can you take my picture in front of this flag, Mommy?”
“Can I see?”
Holds phone down for my three-year-old to see.
“Why is it all those colors, Mommy?”
“It’s a rainbow flag, buddy.”
My three-year-old son is extremely intuitive and bright. He gives the best bear hugs and can talk smack like a kid twice his age. Yet, when my sweet, innocent little man asked me why a wooden pallet outside of a local store was painted like a rainbow with a heart to boot, I froze.
We’ve always talked openly to our kids about the importance of kindness. They have heard us say that some people have dark skin, some light, and some different shades in between. But, we always emphasize that all humans are the same inside. They ask questions about things and we answer them in the best way we can so that they will grow up to be tolerant and open-minded adults.
I have even told them that some families have two daddies or two mommies. They know all of this. Granted, not specifics yet as they are still young, but I always knew that when I had children my husband and I would work our hardest to guide them away from racism, sexism, ableism, or gender stereotypes.
Yet, how do you tell a three-year-old about the meaning of a pride flag? Or the history behind the Black Lives Matter movement? Or how even 101 years ago, their mother wouldn’t have been able to vote?
We all think we will know how we’ll do this parenting thing differently. We think we know how we’ll teach our kids to be just a little bit better than our parents taught us and their parents taught them.
But, as I watched him smile in front of that makeshift pride flag, I realized I already am doing all of those things simply by being me.
He is watching me every single day.
He watches me as I smile back at the sweet black lady as she hands me my receipt at the grocery store and we laugh about the unseasonable weather.
He watches me as I mention my best friend from high school, as we look through my old photo albums and I tell him she’s in love with a woman as if I had said it was a man instead.
He will watch me in November when I go to the polling site and practice my right to vote that so many women before me fought so hard for.
Children are not taught these things on one Thursday afternoon while out running errands. They are taught them on a hundred Thursday afternoons, at bedtime, while watching TV or when on vacation.
Every. Single. Day.
They are watching you. The question is…what are they seeing?
© Britt LeBoeuf, 2022. All rights reserved.