Explaining It All

| May 30, 2016 | 0 Comments

I live across the street from Balboa Park. Most mornings when I wake up and look outside I see homeless souls still sleeping or just waking up to spend the day foraging for cans, bottles and whatever can get them through the day. My grandkids, ages five and 12 often stay with me and are well aware that who they see in my neighborhood is very different than the citizens of their world. As we take our walks, in the park or from Bankers Hill to Hillcrest, they have questioned me.

Questions like “why is that man so dirty,” Why is he going through trash cans? Doesn’t he have any food at home?”
Lately the older one has taken to commenting about other unfamiliar sights. He notices two girls kissing on the lips or two men holding hands as they walk. It is a far cry from the homogenous suburbs they dwell in behind a locked gate. I know their mother’s politics, religious and social views and they are different than mine. The question for me is do I share my values and judgements if I know they differ from hers?

Children learn from many sources and what they absorb at a young age may very well shape them into the adults they become. Parents, teachers, grandparents and the media are huge influence peddlers and when they clash, does it confuse the child?

I’ve given this much thought and have decided it’s okay for me to tout my beliefs as long as I preface them by stating they are my beliefs, everyone has the right to believe as they see fit, and when they get older they can choose to have their own.

We started with the homeless situation. I told them when you pass people like that, instead of thinking they are lazy people who don’t want to work, or just drug or alcohol addicts, think to yourself, you poor soul, what happened in your life that got you here. I tell them we have no idea about their background so we should not judge them.

They see me go into a 7-11 and buy water and bananas to give to a nearby man. I tell them I don’t give them money, I give them food and water because I know for sure that it is good for them. As for the gay population they have noticed, I tell them what I believe. I tell them I believe some people are born that way, just like you were born with green eyes and brown hair.

Knowing their mother believes differently, I stress these are my feelings and other people have a right to believe the way they believe, and aren’t we lucky to live in a country where we have that right. It’s amazing how a simple explanation, without disparaging the other side, elicits an “Oh, okay” from them.

This way of thinking began when they started going to a particular church with their mom. They are products of a mixed religion family. I married outside my faith and with agreement from my husband, brought my sons up in my faith. They in turn each married outside their faith and their kids, my grandkids are being brought up in a faith different than mine and their respective dads.

I knew the time had come for a talk when my grandson, knowing all this, asked if I was going to hell. I shared that I do not believe in hell, and he answered, my other gramma does.

Hearing me tell him that there are many ways to worship God and all over the world different people have different ways of doing that, he seemed content with my answer. I hope that when a child has an explanation from someone he trusts, he has the tools that will help him form his own adult beliefs in a world that has so much to choose from.

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