Parents often feel the weight of their kids’ shrinking worlds. We have so many schools preaching more tolerance than ever before, whilst kids nevertheless feel the intolerance of their peers if in minority groups. These relate to opinions more than ethnicity, today; social conditioning (and social media) influences opinions more than we often care to admit.
Naturally, we are all biased to some degree, displaying various personal preferences and leanings. These are shaped by the influence of key adults, particularly in childhood. When voices beyond our preferences sing an appealing siren call of secularity, we trust that reason and restraint are somewhat resisted because of our input. So we should surely be concerned at potential harm from contrary voices preaching, for example, intolerance of anyone flying a lone flag of ideological difference.
For example, there is much hatred and haranguing of Christians for merely ascribing to the Bible’s claim that there is just one way to God. Jesus’ declarations that He was that way were not statements against anyone, but were couched in a context of invitation for all who would accept the Good News that there is an escape from eternal punishment. The Bible itself condemns aggressive and insensitive proselytising in favour of humility and grace befitting love in action, but sometimes this more mature response is unfortunately missing from both sides of discussions about Christianity. Therefore, our kids are often persecuted for their beliefs in a country that prides itself on freedom of opinion.
Religion doesn’t start wars, people do! And people can start them against our kids over all sorts of “you can’t believe that” guises. Therefore, when intervention seems to be taken out of our hands or when the values we espouse are under threat, it is all the more important to stay in the game and fight for, not with, our kids.
Parents can give kids resilience strategies by keeping open lines of communication, being slow to short-tempered or overly-dictated responses. Patient unpacking, playing devil’s advocate with questions, resisting the urge to fight their battles for them, and avoiding hypocrisy in setting boundaries, will all help invite responses that best prepare our kids to combat the real world. They need to shape their own convictions under a guiding hand that shows love in the process, and not just the content, of our speech.