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10 Things To Remember If You Want To Raise Your Kids To Be Open-minded

10 Things To Remember If You Want To Raise Your Kids To Be Open-minded

In the modern world, you are exposed to diversity everywhere you go. People share different beliefs, languages, traditions, backgrounds, and appearances. Diversity fuels the world, creates numerous educational opportunities, and keeps conversations interesting.

As a loving parent, you want your child to grow with an open mind, tolerant of all the differences out there and capable of making thoughtful decisions based on facts. If you want your kids to be open-minded, here are 10 important things to remember.

1. Open-mindedness doesn’t come from racial diversity

Diversity is largely dependent on different socioeconomic factors. Public schools are location-based, and your kids will go to school with other kids who live nearby. Unless you are based in a major city like New York, there is a relatively small chance that you’ll get any sort of real diversity. It’s hard to admit, but the world is still segregated as housing is segregated economically. Now, I’m certain you know which neighborhoods in your city are “good”, “expensive”, “Chinese,” and so on. Yet, many modern parents opt to take their kids out of the typical suburban exodus once they finish kindergarten, as they see that the suburbs as not a realistic preparation for their kids’ lives. If it’s an option for you — consider it!

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2. Open-mindedness comes from an open learning environment

However, not all schools can boast this type of environment. A lot of teachers are fired because they don’t teach to the tests, and sadly, fringe ideas are not part of the national curriculum. If you want to raise an open-minded child, don’t let them learn in the test-based environment where they just grow up knowing that all they need is to remember the right answer to pass a test.

Help your kids develop critical thinking and teach them to make independent judgements. When they ask for your help, don’t give them a ready-made solution. Instead, brainstorm different ideas together. Help them find the best one on their own by encouraging them to ask questions, slightly guiding them in the right direction. Stop saying things like “I know better,” or “Because I said so,” when they don’t understand why they should do it your way. Let them make mistakes and even fail sometimes. Yes, it might be hard for you, but to raise your child to be a successful, open-minded adult, they need to learn how to get over failure, analyze their mistakes, and make more successful attempts.

3. Always monitor your own attitude and open-mindedness

Kids are constantly watching you deal with different situations and people. If you want your kid to be open-minded, you should always stay alert about the things you say and the way you act. Avoid dropping even casual statements of intolerance, such as “Janine’s mom isn’t right because she doesn’t accept evolution theory,” or judging anyone because of traditions they follow. Your kids should grow up knowing that if someone does the usual things in a different way, it doesn’t mean they are wrong and should be criticized. Difference isn’t bad— difference is what makes the world go round.

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4. TV shows and movies are full of prejudice

You should explain to your child that not all Russians are cold-minded villains as the movies often show, not all Mexicans are illegal immigrants, and so on. Explain to your child that the world is much more complicated that it is shown on the screen and that there is lots of bias in the media. Instead, offer them raw facts about different cultures and ethnic groups so they can learn to make their own judgements.

5. Teach them languages

Languages open people up to understanding of different cultures and their values. Yes, English is commonly spoken around the world, however, understanding another language exposes you to more possibilities to see things from a different perspective. Besides, your children will be able to access information presented from a different perspective and become more tolerant of other cultures whose language they can speak and understand. Intolerance and hostility often comes from miscommunication and misunderstanding of foreign traditions.

6. Expose your child to different activities and cultures

Watch documentaries about different countries, go to museums, visit exhibitions and cultural events organized by foreign organizations. Try various cuisines, read stories about different cultures, and see the world through photos. Choose books and movies where the main characters are not necessarily Caucasian. If your child’s friend invites you to Hanuka, accept the invitation and explain your kid why he’s celebrating it instead of Christmas. The more your child knows about the world around them, the more they will be able to approach it with an open mind.

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7. Let your children have friends who are not like them

Your child should realize that there isn’t a “norm” of how people must look. Encourage them to have friends of different backgrounds and ethnicities. Playing and communicating with other kids will help him realize that they are just like them, despite their color, religion, or cultural background.

When I was a child, I spent two years in Japan playing with the local kids and other expat children from all around the world. I’m grateful my parents never suggested whom I should be friends with. This helped me to grow into a “colorblind”, open-minded adult, curious about the world and other cultures.

8. Respect your child’s individuality

If you really want to bring up an independent, open-minded child, don’t try to push them into stereotypical molds such as, “girls should play with dolls and wear dresses.” If you son wants to paint his nails blue — why not? If your daughter chooses wood work as her after-class activity — fantastic. Ask what she’s up to. Let your child grow outside the so-called “feminine” and “masculine” roles and try different things they like. Who said a boy can’t like cooking and judo at the same time?

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9. Teach your children to deal with criticism and prejudice

Unfortunately, not all kids and adults out there would be equally open-minded and tolerant. You’ll have to teach your child to be assertive and to stand up for himself (or his friends) without being overly aggressive. When he or she faces some prejudice because of his hobbies, friends, shape, or size, talk with them through the problem. My friend’s son was teased because he took ballet classes. Yet his mom just told him about all the modern male dancers, showed him Sergei Polunin, who could hardly be called girly, and explained that in a couple of years, all the girls would chase him because he would be really good-looking and maybe even famous. Now, when he hears something skeptical such as, “So you do ballet, huh?” he simply says, “Yes!”

10. Foster logical thinking

Open-mindedness comes hand-in-hand with logical thinking. Intolerance and racism mainly come from bias and false beliefs about different cultures. Don’t let your child grow up believing each and every thing they hear from their teachers, other kids, or their parents. They should be able to evaluate statements, analyze the facts, and create their own opinions about everyone and everything, rather than just relying on ideas presented by others. If you want your children to be open minded, they should be independent thinkers.

Featured photo credit: Julie Kertesz via flickr.com

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Elena Prokopets

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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