Have you ever sat quietly and watched how a child interacts with those around them? Not just the superficial glances that we use to assess whether they are still alive, but more of a football game style observation.
Apart from the little spats and occasional crying, they are pretty remarkable at showing genuine interest in each other. And the younger they are, the less they care about the menial things.
Think about it. When was the last time you made friends with someone who had shoes on the wrong feet, a snotty nose, and freshly soiled pants? As adults, this is a combination that would likely lead to nausea, not friendship.
A Personal Study
Although I would like to say that I learned this through my keen sense of child rearing, I’ll avoid lying and simply say that it was a happy accident. One that I stumbled in to…undeserving as I may be.
It was a relatively normal dinner at a friend’s house. The kids were playing. We were engaged in conversation.
As is customary, the girls were involved in an endless procession of dress-up, which meant a steady stream of cat-walk performances.
When the fairies and Disney princesses had finally run their course, they all crashed nearby. However, among the chatting, I overheard my 5-year old make a comment to our friends’ little girl. “S******, I love how curly your hair is and your skin is so pretty!”
No matter the circumstance, this is enough to melt any dad’s heart. What made it even more profound was that the little girl was (and still is of course;)) biracial. Her mom being of Italian decent and her dad being African American.
My daughter didn’t notice her as being different for the sake of being different, but she saw her as being uniquely beautiful. She genuinely cherished her friend’s diversity.
Now, I will admit that we have a lot of diverse people in our lives as a family. Our friends, our church family, our community; they have worked together to create a cultural tapestry of sorts.
This has certainly fostered a sense of acceptance within my girls, but it merely creates the atmosphere.
What’s staggering is how pure and sincere they are. And in the midst of all this, we dads are left with a lesson we can’t help but learn.
Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
What we have the opportunity to learn is this:
- Despite our diversity, there is commonality between all of us. Cultural, racial, socio-economic…these are simply attributes to be welcomed.
- Our differences simply make us more meaningful. Really…try befriending someone with stark cultural differences. If they don’t become more meaningful to you…well…then you may in fact be dead.
- We learn more from those whose experiences are unfamiliar. Think about the most interesting people you have met. I would venture to guess that their experiences are significantly different from your own.
- Our perceptions need a chance to be overthrown. When we involve ourselves with diverse people, our perceptions will often get a much needed beat-down. As should be the destiny for all the ignorant parts of our lives.
- We get a good gauge of the effectiveness of our parenting. If your kids are embracing those around them, regardless of their differences…then you’re getting some important things right.
How about you?
Do you live a life among diverse people?
What are your thoughts on its affect on your children?
Try it out…I bet you’ll be surprised at how much your kids will teach you.