My daughter suggested that I write a post about the importance of introducing your children to a diverse group of people. I hadn’t much thought about the effect our diverse group of friends and acquaintances had on her childhood until then. She explained to me that it was one of the most important things that made her accepting of all kinds of people. She grew up in a very unusual environment, being exposed to lots of hippies but also homeless folks, tons of musicians and artists and people from many cultures and sexual orientations. Looking back on it, I see how that shaped her perspectives on the world, and I wish more people had those experiences.
There was recently a Drag Queen story hour at one of our local libraries. I have no young children in my home anymore and didn’t go, but I would have taken my kids to it. In my daughter’s town of Greenville, North Carolina, there was a huge uproar when they held the same type of event. I don’t understand why people who were opposed to it, felt as though they needed to get so upset. Just don’t bring your children. But, there were enough threats made that they had to have police protection. We have entered a new phase in our country, one of acceptance but also one of violent rejection. The best way to push back against the negativity is to support and celebrate the differences around us. People are finally feeling safe enough to come out of the closet, lots of different closets.
I always encourage parents in my music classes to expose their children to a wide range of musical styles because we have no idea what they will end up liking. We don’t want them to rebel against the things we love, so we encourage them to hear everything. I’ve met young children whose parents don’t listen to classical music, but that is what they ended up loving. I was raised Catholic and, like so many others, I turned my back on the Catholic Church, never looking back. I introduced my own children to a wide variety of religions, encouraging them to choose for themselves what made the most sense in their spiritual lives.
Shouldn’t we be doing the same thing with lifestyle choices? We can’t change who our children are born to be, and we don’t necessarily know what that is right away. If we raise them in a static environment and they don’t fit into that mold, they will end up feeling lost. I know that I did, and it took me a long time to find my rightful place in the world. Let’s do our children a huge favor and show them their limitless possibilities without encouraging or discouraging any specific road.