We choose love.
In our house, that is what we choose over everything. Over hate. Over anger. Over sadness. Over despair. We choose love. We have raised our boys to choose love. When our oldest son came home and asked us about a child whose skin color was different from his, we told him that was something special God does – he makes us all look different. Imagine if we all looked the same…how boring would that be? This answer was suitable for his then 4-year-old mind. This also set up his mind to choose love. We are loved even though we may be different and we are still valued.
So what does that mean? “We Choose Love.”
For our family, it means when we see people who are different than us rather that be due to their skin color, body type, abilities/disabilities, religion…whatever it may be, we choose to love them. Our differences are what make us special. When my oldest (who is now 7) went to Summer camp, there was a little girl who had braces on her legs and walked with crutches. That was how he referred to her – “the girl with crutches.” It broke my heart. I told him that I wanted him to learn her name. I was going to ask when I picked him up. I told him that he needed to be helpful if she needed help and I wanted him to be kind because she was just like him but that she may need help doing things that he can do. When I picked him up, he smiled and he said: “Her name is Zoey.” And then went on to tell me when he saw her sitting alone in the grass while the others played on the swings, he went and sat with her so she wasn’t alone. He could have gone and played and left her there but instead – he chose love.
We were at the park for a picnic recently and a Muslim family came to have a picnic also. They had a daughter and son, they had their picnic packed in a bag, they had smiles on their faces and were ready to sit and eat. They were just like us. The difference was the mother was wearing a burka. My son got really close to me and whispered: “Why do people wear those?” I explained it was due to their beliefs. He asked “Is it her religion?” and I said yes. He worried that maybe she would be hot wearing it in the sun and how it was a good choice to sit under the shelter house for their picnic like we did. She was different from me but she was still a mama and he was concerned. He chose love.
That being said, these differences that we believe are special about someone are often the differences that some people choose to use as the reason to hate a person. So there is the next question, how do we explain that to our children? How do we explain that one of the things we are most proud of about members of our family is their decision to serve and protect the citizens of our towns but there are people who don’t even know them but hate them because of it? We have friends and family members who have skin that is lighter and darker than ours and we choose to love them but others choose to hate them. What do I say to my children when they ask why that is?
It is not easy to answer their questions about such tough topics. However, when they do ask these questions it is our chance to guide them down the right path. We as parents, have the opportunity and most importantly, the responsibility to teach our children to do the right thing. Some people make decisions that aren’t necessarily the right decisions and it may be something that we would never do BUT we have the chance to do the opposite. We can make the world a better place by not spreading the hate, the judgment, the mean-spiritedness but instead choosing to spread kindness, love, and understanding. As parents, we can guide our children to do better. It is our responsibility to leave this world better than it is now and we can do that through teaching our children to value, love and respect one another.