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From the time our children are born we want nothing more than to give them a better life, it’s a simple goal that we as parents attempt to achieve. Trying to prevent them from making the same mistakes of intolerance and prejudice that we, or our forefathers may have made.
We give them the tools to ultimately have a successful future, as we struggle to help them pay for college expenses, hopefully insuring them a better quality of life and financial security for their future. This approach is global, as parents around the world hold similar ideals and wish the same for their children. When my daughter was born, my husband and I preached against prejudice. We told our daughter to embrace the diversity of all cultures and to be respectful of the difference between them. Throughout her life, as a parent I have played various scenarios in my minds imagination of the proverbial, “What If” game.
My mind has run the entire gambit of “What Ifs”, as I’m sure they have for every parent out there. What if she gets gets hooked up with the wrong crowd, arrested, in an accident, or flunks out of school, etc? The list can be infinite. If any of these situations occurred, how would I as her loving parent react? Would she be ostracized by the same two people who strove to teach her life’s lessons? The same people who openly spoke of their own mistakes and short comings, allowing her to make choices, grow and become a strong, self confident individual?
Here is one of the current “What if” scenarios recently discussed with friends: What if, you send your child away to attend college, where they meet someone and begin a serious relationship? You are told stories about how wonderful this new person in their life is. How amazing it is that that they have so much in common, and how great they get along. This new person has a solid plan for the future, gets good grades and is striving to reach an ultimate career goal in life. As a parent we become happy for our child, and begin to draw a picture of this person in our minds. What If, for example, as a parent, you are only privy to information regarding this mysterious new person, via text messages, emails, and phone calls? No photos. Will you envision in your mind’s eye, what you deem to be the ideal person for your child regarding looks and race?
Never in a million years would, or should the first words out of our mouths as a parent be……“Are they black, Hispanic, Asian, Jewish, Catholic or atheist?” Of course we would also never ask, gay. However, as a parent, I question myself, that if any of the previously mentioned situations were true, would I rise to the challenge and be true to the lessons I had taught, or be reactionary when finally meeting this new person face to face? When it comes down to it, we as parents should question ourselves and ask, “What is more important; the way this new person treats our child, their core values, or the color of their skin? Do we possibly as a society get more wrapped up and worried about what other people might think, rather than the happiness of our children? Ultimately this scenario challenges ones core values as a loving, supportive parent, making us put up or shut up, when put to the test. Taking this scenario even further; you finally meet your child’s boyfriend/girlfriend, you think they’re great and can see them building a good foundation with your child and having a future together. All is well with the world for the moment. Now, What if, you learn his/her family is here illegally? What would you do? Would you turn them in, become a sponsor or advocate for the family, or do nothing? Nine out of ten people when they hear someone is here illegally, envision someone Hispanic, due to the largesse of their footprint on the population. This isn’t always the case, there are hundreds of thousands of illegals of all nationalities walking among us, but the primary focus is on Hispanics due to the proximity of the Mexican border. Would your decision to act, or do nothing, change if the person’s family were Irish, Canadian, Chinese, Korean, Italian, African, or English?
It’s time to ask ourselves….. “Where exactly do I stand and what would I do?”