Help children value all differing views of the world

Published 4:53 pm Saturday, March 15, 2014

QUESTION: How do I help my children become peacemakers in this life?

ANSWER: When I was in my 20s, I attended a faith community sponsored state conference at St. Olaf College. The speaker was a Catholic priest who had lived several years on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He shared an object lesson on the importance of clearly communicating our own culture and our need to ask questions and listen carefully to others, if we ever hope to understand our world.

First, he asked us to think about everyone in the room standing up and making a big circle. I am rather certain that all our mental pictures had everyone in the circle facing each other — facing toward the center of the circle. The priest challenged that idea that day. In fact, he said, we live our lives in a big circle facing outward. Those of us closest to each other see similar, but not exactly, the same things. If we are ever going to understand what is outside our normal range of vision, even if we turn our heads, we are going to have to depend on others to share what they see — just as they will have to depend on us.

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It is to everyone’s advantage to look closely at what we can see and work to describe what we see accurately — and to ask good questions of others and then to be good listeners.

It’s our responsibility as parents and grandparents to remind our children that our own view of life is interesting and valuable — and so are the views of the people next to us, which may well include experiences similar to our own, and so are the views of the people who live across the circle from us, which until we should have the opportunity to stand where they stand, may be very different from what we are seeing now.

Peacemakers in this world value their own perspectives and also want to hear the perspectives of others, because they know that one person can never see the whole picture.


If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in child- raising, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out and Children Just Like Me at the PRC Specialty Library (105 First Street S.E., Austin).