Addie had a girl in her Kindergarten class with two moms. Back home in Utah she has three friends with two dads. She came home from her first day of first grade proclaiming “TYLER HAS GREEN HAIR AND SAM HAS A MOHAWK!” Throughout her life she is going to have friends in wheelchairs, friends with learning difficulties, friends with different interests and friends with different family dynamics. When I see the unique families and situations Addie’s friends come from it makes me think back to my elementary school, where I was the only kid in Kindergarten with divorced parents.
That was weird.
No matter what you believe or what family values you hold within your own home, your child is going to come across many different people in his or her lifetime. Teaching them understanding and kindess early on will not only stifle the bullying cycle, but allow them to appreciate differences in others and realize we all have much more in common than the few things that make us truly different.
Several authors and illustrators have set out to foster understanding and compassion in kids with picture books that explain different families, situations and personality traits in easy to understand ways. From a duck labeled “sissy” by his overbearing father and neighborhood bully to the true story of two male penguins who became adoptive fathers, these books can help children to understand difficult concepts and develop compassion for their peers.
Children learn the most from what they see at home and from the actions of their parents or guardians. Regardless of personal beliefs, it has never been more important to teach our children kindness and understanding for others with our own example.
Do you have a favorite book that has helped your children foster understanding?