Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Teaching Children Tolerance, Respect, Love & Compassion

Our next guest blogger is a self-proclaimed crafting novice who is successfully making ALL of her family's Christmas gifts this year, one month and one project at a time!  I think it was our mutual obsession with Christmas crafting, and the yearning to embark on outlandish, nearly impossible adventures that initially drew me to her.  But as I have gotten to know her, I believe that it is our mutual commitment to Christ and the way that we cherish our roles as Mothers that really makes me love her!

She's Elizabeth of Twelve Crafts Till Christmas!
And I'm pretty sure you'll love her too.

Here she is!


So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?" Jesus answered.  "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  There is no commandment greater than these."
Mark 12:28-32

Hello there!  I'm Elizabeth from twelve crafts till Christmas.  Last January I set a goal of making all my Christmas presents for Christmas 2010.  Twelve crafts till Christmas is all about my journey towards that goal.  Through my blog, I have come to know a variety of wonderful people - people who have different traditions, faith expressions, beliefs, cultural backgrounds.  The blog-world is a microcosm of the real world.  Differences abound.  In God's great wisdom people were created unique and different.

As a mom, one of my most important jobs is to model and teach my children the truths in the two verses above: love God with everything and love people without exception.

These two truths are linked and inseparable.  We cannot fully love God if we do not show love, compassion and acceptance of those around us . . . even . . . no, especially those who are different from us.

One of the many ways that I try to help my children grow in love, compassion and acceptance of others is to make sure that they see and experience differences on a daily basis.  This can be a challenge if you are the parent of very young children.  For most young children, their "world" is small.  It mostly consists of home and family.  So that's where I started . . . I started teaching love, compassion and acceptance of differences within the walls of our home from day 1 of life.

Here are a few simple suggestions for parents of young children:

1)  Purchase or borrow books that have images of children and people who are different from the people who live in your home.  We are of European descent.  Our skin is fairly pale.  So when we were expecting our first child, I purchased books that depicted a variety of skin colors.  These books don't have a direct message.  They are just children's story books that tell simples stories.

2)  Purchase or borrow books that specifically teach love, compassion and acceptance.  These books have a direct message of acceptance.  I have found some wonderful books that allow me to talk with my children specifically about differences.  Here are a few that I love:

Sometimes Smart Is Good - Dena Fox Luchsinger
  -This book helps start a discussion about developmental differences and those of differing abilities.

God's Dream - Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams
Whoever You Are - Mem Fox
  -These two books focus on cultural and physical differences.

In God's Name - Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
  -A greater discussion starter for religious differences.

We Are All Different - Kirsten Hall
  -A wonderful book that covers all differences from skin color and hair texture to braces and wheelchairs.

Chrysanthemum - Kevin Henkes
Stephanie's Ponytail - Robert Munsch
  -These two books are cute stories that help children celebrate their ability to be different and unique from others.

The Perfect Present - Cayle Opp
  -A wonderful story on adoption.  Many friends of ours have adopted children recently, and this book has helped my children understand the differences and similarities of adoption.

3)  Buy toys, dolls, coloring books, etc. that celebrate differences.  Dolls and action figures come in a variety of skin colors.  Make sure that dolls, actions figures and other toys depict the variety of hair colors, skin colors, facial features, physical abilities, etc. that children will see in the world around them.

4)  Attend worship somewhere else.  When we go on vacation, we try to find a place to worship that is different from the church we are a part of at home.  This experience allows your children to see differences in worship styles and churches, but it also helps you have a great conversation with your children about why you go to your particular church.

5)  Watch TV shows and movies that celebrate differences.  (First, I encourage you to limit TV and movie time and to preview all shows that you let your children watch.  I also encourage limited exposure to commercials.)  There are shows that celebrate or expose children to differences.  During rare TV time at our house, I let my children watch Little Bill, Dora, Ni Hao Kai-lan, Backyardagains and a few others.

6)  Have conversations that focus on similarities too.  At our house, we don't just focus on differences.  We also focus on similarities.  Many of the books mentioned above remind children that in the beauty of our differences we are also very similar in joys, hurts, physical and spiritual needs, etc.  We remind our children regularly that while God created us to be different and unique in many ways, we are also created to be like one another in many ways.

These are just a few ideas that we have implemented in our home to help our children learn love, compassion and acceptance of others so that our children can also grow in loving God with everything and loving people without exception.

I can't wait to hear your ideas.  What are some things you do or would like to do with you children to help them learn these lessons taught to us in God's Word and upheld in The Family Proclamation?

Thanks, Elizabeth, for sharing these great ideas with us to use in our own families!  Now, please remember to enter our CRAFT LINK-UP happening here this week.  You can also link-up your blog posts about Family below.

Each time you link-up or comment, you enter for chances to win this week's party favors (listed below)!  So go ahead...LEAVE A COMMENT! :)  And check out what they're talking about over at Chocolate On My Cranium today!


Here are the party favors for this week:

I will announce the winners of the following prizes on Sunday!
Custom Family Tree for Kids - 8x10 print
a custom family tree for children displaying four generations of family names
Para Siempre print, LDS Temple font
an 11x14 print of "Para Siempre" using LDS Temple Font
Description:  "Para Siempre", means "Forever". The font is made exclusively of LDS temple parts. This print can be personalized with your family name and established/sealing date." 
by Pseuzyn's Shop

LDS QUAD scripture cover PURPLE, BLACK and GREY

a quad Scripture Cover from To Jameson With Love

a customizable Family Proclamation Photo Album
It includes words from the entire Proclamation...You just insert your own family photos!

I BELONG handstamped baptism necklace

"I Belong" hand-stamped baptism necklace
Description:  "I BELONG 2010 stamped on one inch nickle silver disc. Attached to 24 inch silver plated ball chain. Chain may be cut down to shorter size. This item is designed with creativity and is custom hand stamped especially for you! That is what makes each piece unique." by Just Be Jewelry

Birthday Countdown- balloons

Birthday Countdown Blocks
This item helps you countdown 31 days until a birthday.  Lettering is customizable.

Expandable LDS Temple Tote with outside pocket (Black and White Houndstooth)

Expandable Temple Tote Pattern in PDF 
(There will be 2 Winners of this pattern!!)


  1. what a cool idea, love the ideas of books to introduce children to differences in cultures plus meeting and attending other churches. how about service projects-working in homeless kitchens, etc? Also travel...

  2. You are correct. Another good way is total immersion in your community. We moved to this bedroom community in 1976 on a Monday. By Thursday I had joined the local woman's service group and we still hang together today. Every woman had her own church affiliation and from that we shared and learned. We had continual projects of service and a lot of fun. I was often asked about my religion and could discuss the similarities and differences. We still meet today as Red Hats but our partying is only about service and even after all these years I get asked your nativity is Christ there all December or just after the 25th. Man...did my answer give them lots to talk about. Or most recently, will Marissa return to teaching when the baby arrives or will she, like your other girls, stay home to be a full time mother?

    The best part....they all accepted my beliefs with respect and when my parents died, they showed up to the funeral viewing (which I am not having for myself) and one was brave enough to ask a question for the group...and get a simple answer to take back.

    Differences are the best and lead to a much better understanding, and broader base. My best friends do not attend church beside me, but are always my rocks and my joys.

  3. To help my children understand differences, I often take advantage of their questions and encourage them to ask others about their differences. For instance, there have been times when we were in the park...and my children saw someone who was different and would ask me about them (in a loud voice usually!) If they are curious about why someone is missing a leg or in a wheelchair, I let them ask themselves or at least go closer to interact with that person. Then they can see for themselves that they have more in common with that person than different. People are usually happy to answer their questions, because they are children and they are genuinely curious. One time we saw a man of Asian descent at the park and my son said "Dad, that man came here all the way from China!" He was so excited, because my husband's been to China three times and my son knows that. It's funny, but I believe in just asking these questions straight out. I'm a journalist at heart, so I think that's where it comes from. Plus I don't have all of the answers...My kids can learn way more by talking with other people about their lives than from me just trying to answer their questions myself. But these books I think are an awesome way to introduce these ideas in the home for sure!

  4. I have been thinking on this alot lately as we go through this adventure that is adoption. We don't know where our children will come from, or who, or what they will look like. How do we teach our children how to love an accept their differences, and celebrate them? We have been doing different studies through our school, we have studied different religions, different countries and celbrated different people in our family.

    Thank you for the additional places we can try.

  5. Yes, small children makes it hard to expose our kids to different kinds of people. I haven't made a big effort in teaching them this. I usually just answer my son's questions about why that man is in a wheelchair or why that girl has earrings all over her face, etc. and move on. Thank you for helping me see that I've been missing an opportunity for deeper teaching. Something new to improve on:)

  6. For us talking about difference is basic as our family is filled with different races. What we are working on now is dealing with insensitivity and sometimes meanness that comes because of our differences. Teaching forgiveness and that our Heavenly Father loves each of us, flaws and all.

    Great post today!

  7. Having experienced intolerance because of my race growing up, it is a priority that I teach my children about being loving, kind ,and tolerant of all people. I tell them stories from my childhood so they can understand how it feels to bee hurt by others. We also try to make friends with everyone.

  8. My children are still pretty small. But as I thought about this when I was in high school and growing up, I decided that as they get a little bigger (and I get a little better at everything), I want to have a weekly "Who am I?" or "Travel the World" day during the summer when my children are out of school. On this day, we would go to the library and research a place or a situation or an animal or whatever and then take it home and have an activity/dinner associated with it where every one makes one thing that they share about what they learned. For some reason, I always thought I would have a hard time getting pregnant and would be adopting children from different cultures (maybe I still will - who knows?), and so making sure they understood where they came from and what their heritage was always stood out to me as something very important.

  9. Parents are the best examples and you guys are doing a fabulous job.

  10. I love these ideas. Thank you. We used to live in a more diverse community, my kids would describe someone by the color of their voice or type of personality and I loved that.

  11. I love this!!! I really should go out and get more books that celebrate our differences! Such a simple thing.
    I, too, like to make all my Christmas gifts! SO fun!

  12. Another great post. I love it when children's books are the answer.

  13. Great Ideas! Thanks for sharing!