The way parents talk to their children about acceptance and understanding of other people, religions, cultures, and ethnicities is so important — especially now. During those formative years, kids absorb it all, so it is our responsibility to show them that ourdifferences should not be the thing that separates us, but should be something worth celebrating.
In a post on the Love What Matters Facebook page, Noor Wazwaz, a Muslim woman, championed this message by recounting an experience she recently had when she overheard a conversation between a father and his two daughters about understanding different religions.
"I'm at a (I'm Muslim) restaurant eating and there's a dad sitting with his two girls. I overhear their conversation. The girls are asking about everything and anything. I'm fascinated by their curiosity. One of the girls looks at me and asks, 'Daddy, why is she wearing that?' Her dad responded with something that made my heart so warm. He said, 'There are different religions and cultures and languages. We have to learn about them.' He then proceeded to share a personal experience of when he lived abroad and learned to speak Spanish. This reminded me of a Harvard research that I was reading about. 'Children exposed to racism tend to accept and embrace it as young as age 3, and in just a matter of days.' This is how you teach love, acceptance, understanding and respect. It starts from an early age. Kids listen and imitate their parents' views and behaviors. You are their role model."
Since the post went up on Nov. 5, it has received 67,000 likes and 12,000 shares. Many Facebook users are writing about similar experiences they've had with their children. One wrote, "One of my favorite moments this past month was a young boy coming up to me to ask a question in class. He looked up and pointed to my crucifix and asked, 'Do you go to church?' I replied that I do, 'Oh. I go to mosque.' And off he happily went. It should always be that simple and matter-of-fact."
Many are also commenting about how this is the positive, open-minded attitude society needs to have. Another person said, "To me, this is the key to ending racism. Children are not born racist. We all must do our small part to teach our children to peacefully live side-by-side with others who may look different than we do or worship differently."
The commenter concluded, "We can turn our differences into building blocks to [create] stronger relationships."
Religion has been a hot point in the 2016 presidential election, with Muslims being a particular target. Despite the anxiety the election may bring, people must keep fighting the good fight toward acceptance. It is people like Wazwaz, the father from Wazwaz's letter, and his daughters, who will help create positive change.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article credited Rabia Ahmed instead of Noor Wazwaz.