Teaching Kids to Respect Other Religions

We live in a very diverse world with many different ideas and value systems that may differ from our own. One of the wonderful things about the United States is that you can express your diverse ideas with freedom. One of the freedoms Americans enjoy is freedom of religion. While around 70% of Americans identify as Christians (including Protestants and Roman Catholics), somewhere close to 10% are of various other religions and another 20% hold no religious affiliation. In such a diverse world how do we teach our children to respect others and their religious beliefs? Teaching kids to respect other religions is an important step to teaching students how to be good citizens in our changing world.

Respect

Understanding

Understanding your own religion as well as other religions is an important step. You can be devout and practice your own religion while respecting the religion of your neighbors and community. First, learn the tenets of your own religion and pass those on to your children. Then learn about and teach your children the basic beliefs of other religions so you can have factual discussion with your children. This is not about pointing out how your religion is right and the other religions are wrong. This is about understanding why others believe as they do and respecting their right to do so. You will probably find that many of your preconceptions about most religions are based on faulty sources and are not entirely true. Stereotyping religions is on par with stereotyping other races and should be discouraged.

Look for Common Ground

Many religions have similar customs or traditions. Look for common ground such as a version of the Golden Rule or some other basic idea that is similar to your own. If you know someone of a different religion, ask thoughtful and respectful questions to learn about other religions. For example, both Christianity and Judaism share religious writings included in the Old Testament. Islam even connects back to Christianity and Judaism through Abraham’s son, Ishmael. Most religions have tenets referring to charity or caring for family and community. Finding things you have in common with others fosters respect for their beliefs.

Common Courtesy and Respect

Educating yourself about other religions allows you to answer questions sincerely when your child sees a woman wearing a hijab or a man wearing a turban. If you know the answers to these questions, you can open a sincere discussion in which the natural curiosity of a child is appeased without judgment or stereotyping another individual. Children learn what they see and hear, and if they see you practicing common courtesy and respect to people of other religions they are more likely to practice the same themselves. No matter what your religious affiliation, you should always respect the beliefs of others and their constitutional right to practice their own religion. Being kind and respectful to others does not constitute lesser belief in your own religion, nor does it insinuate agreement with someone else’s; however, it does show respect for humanity that every individual is entitled to.

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Dealing with Kids Home from College

Kids Hanging Out

We all love to see our kids be independent and enjoy their lives at college.

But what happens when your child comes home from college yet still wants to run her own life while they’re under your roof?

Surviving kids home from college for the holidays or summer vacation has everything to do with communication.  This issue comes up more often for kids who are not yet 21 but are behaving as though they’re 40.

Communication

Let’s say your kid has just come home from college for the Christmas holiday and she’s going to be there for a month.  What’s the best way to handle situations like when she wants to stay out to the wee hours of the morning but her coming home late wakes up the rest of the family?

You know that’s what kids do in college.  The evening doesn’t truly start until 10:00 PM and sometimes kids don’t even get back to their dorms or apartments until nearly dawn.

But this isn’t something that’s going to go well in your household particularly if you have younger kids who need to get their rest.

Sit down with your college student and tell her what you expect from her activities.  Ask her if he she thinks she’s going to be out late often and, if so, find a way to give her the freedom that she has at college without upsetting the delicate balance at home.

Listening

One of the best things you can do as a parent is listen.  And sometimes that job is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, especially if you have a rebellious kid who has just had the freedom of being on his own for the first time.

Listen to what he has to say and why he wants to do some of the things that you may not be in favor of.

If it turns out that the activities have drugs involved – and alcohol is a drug – then the conversation may need to be more serious.

Borrowing the Car

Your college student may want to borrow the car to go hang out with old high school friends or even get together with new friends from college.  If it’s not a problem … meaning that you have more than one car in your family … let him borrow the car but make sure that there is a curfew. This is no different from borrowing the car while in high school.

Trust

If there hasn’t been an issue in the past with trust between you and your college student, then you can continue to trust their good judgment and know that they will call if they need you.

But trust (and respect) should also go both ways.  Your student needs to trust you and respect the rules that you have at home for the consideration of other family members.

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