Democrats & Liberals Archives

Do the right thing..but how?

Being a liberal in a family of rightwing Christian conservatives can be a trying experience. It’s especially trying, I think, for my daughter.

I’ve tried to raise my children to be open to the ideas and beliefs of everyone. Not necessarily to take the beliefs as their own. But to allow themselves the opportunity to understand and be empathetic to what other people go through and why. I’ve also attempted to provide a strong moral code borne not of religion but of a belief that doing the right thing yields good and doing the wrong thing yields evil.

Last weekend we went out to visit my sister. As I've blogged before, she and I have extremely different attitudes about child rearing. My daughter is very sensitive to their beliefs and doesn't wish to offend. But at the same time doesn't want to be made to feel like she's bad or "less than" for doing something that in our family view breaches no moral or ethical standard.

This brings me to a discussion I had with my daughter on the drive out to my sister's:

Daughter: Mom..what do I say when B (her cousin, my sister's son) asks me what I'm going to be for Halloween?

Me: You tell him what you're planning to be for Halloween. He's asking you so you tell him the truth.

Daughter: But Mom, when I tell him I'm going to be a witch, he'll say that's evil and bad.

Me: Do you think being a witch is evil and bad?

Daughter: It depends on if you're a good witch or a bad witch.

Me: Well..I think you can say that to him. I also think you can talk with him about people having the ability to use their talents to do good or to use their talents to do evil.

Daughter: But his family believes all witchcraft and witches are evil and bad.

Me: Maybe you could use this as an opportunity to share your own beliefs with your cousin. After all, you know all about his beliefs. It doesn't seem like he gets to hear about your's very often.

Daughter: What if Auntie gets upset for me telling him something that his Mom and Dad don't want him to believe?

Me: I guess you'll have to let me know and I'll talk to her.

I wish I had greater words of wisdom for my child. I don't know how you explain to a girl that the people she loves are intolerant and closed minded. I don't know which words to give her to let her feel free to talk about herself with her relatives without her being in danger of being scathed by them. She already expects them to be intolerant. But I don't know how to make sure she gets through the experience of their intolerance toward her beliefs without feeling crushed.

Or if I can at all, for that matter.

Posted by Carla Ryan at October 10, 2005 6:41 PM