Really, no one can do right if they are on the other team.
As many of you know, our current President of the United States plans on addressing children about education in a televised speech to be aired at schools this coming week. Many parents who disagree with many of the elected President's politics threw hissy-fits and forced several schools, including the one for my neighborhood, to forgo showing the speech.
The overall message? Don't listen to someone with whom you disagree.
Or ... Don't listen to him! I'll tell you already that I don't know what he's gonna say, but I'm sure it's stupid!
How long are these parents intending to send this message? For the remainder of this administration's term? What if the next president isn't to their liking? What do they suppose the consequence to this repeated message will be? What might their child learn to do when they disagree with their own parent? Their teacher? Their clergy? Their spouse?
People who are upset by the idea of their kids listening to the president of their own country for one measly day are insecure. They believe that their kids have no ability to discern, that they will be brainwashed. If your kids have no ability to discern, the problem is at home, not at the White House. Or, perhaps, you have the rare magical child who remembers what you told them after being told only once. (As far as I know, President Obama will not be planning on saying, "Look at me when I'm talking to you! If I've told you once, I've told you a hundred times! Do I have to tell you until I'm blue in the face??")
Instead of seeing this as an opportunity to open up dialogue with their children, some parents have freaked out and avoided an opportunity to add another teaching moment about respect for authority, interest in the political system, and common courtesy.
Parents: If you disagree with someone's beliefs, at minimum teach your children to disagree respectfully. If they disagree with their teacher, you wouldn't expect them to just not show up to class. If you disagree with a traffic cop, you wouldn't be expected to not show up to court. (Well, not without accruing fines or a warrant anyway.) Keeping a speech from the leader of your country out of schools is the equivalent of "not showing up." I don't believe your intent is to create a person who immediately shuns or ignores people who hold different points of view.
- M. Russell Ballard -
Had Mitt Romney become president and decided to address school kids, would there have been Southern Baptist groups up in arms? The same parents who called schools today whining about Obama's address would have written off the Southern as ignorant paranoids.
Teach your kids to listen and discern, not to invoke the blanket response of ignoring the Commander in Chief or whoever else they disagree with. You would be embarrassed if your child reacted like this to anyone. What better way for your kids to learn better strategies than from your example?
- Russell M Nelson -
Listening doesn't equate embracing the speaker's ideas. It doesn't even mean silent endorsement. At minimum, it is polite. At best, informative. Why the knee-jerk reaction?
- Dallin H Oaks -
- Statement of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, Oct. 1992 -
It goes without saying (and yet, here I am saying it), your child will not always live in a community that readily understands their beliefs. Your child may not foresee the variety of value systems out there. Regardless, a well-adjusted child deals with differences courageously and compassionately.
I do not support any particular agenda or political party. I DO support behaving like adults and teaching children how to interact with others appropriately. I also support equipping children with the skills they'll need now and as they move through the diverse world.
How will they learn these skills? By segregation? Through censorship? They will learn through your careful teachings, and their knowledge will be cemented through their experiences.
For me, scarier than a one-time speech from a political figure with an "agenda" are parents who handicap their children's abilities to resolve differences. Scarier than that is a mob mentality in my own backyard.
Articles of Faith, 12
Regardless of your stance or feelings on the leader of your country, wouldn't this be a fantastic opportunity to watch the President's message (whether at your kids' school or online) and then discuss your family's beliefs? Would this not be a safe environment to teach your children HOW to discern as opposed to simply WHAT to think?
Teach your kids how to process thought and they will grow up to be adults who are less prone to jump to conclusions. They will have an easier time making friends. They will develop better communication and compassion. If you merely teach them what to think, they will be unsure of themselves when you aren't around. Or when your opinions change.
People we dislike and even people we love will say and believe things that we do not agree with. How and when will children learn how to respond and discern in these situations if what they hear is continually censored?
“Each of us is an individual. Each of us is different. There must be respect for those differences. …
“… We must work harder to build mutual respect, an attitude of forbearance, with tolerance one for another regardless of the doctrines and philosophies which we may espouse. Concerning these you and I may disagree. But we can do so with respect and civility.”
- Gordon B. Hinckley -