No matter how open-minded or accepting we believe ourselves to be, and no matter how good a job we think we are doing when it comes to raising tolerant children, this fact remains: We all carry prejudice and biases.
The personal biases we hold as parents significantly influence what we teach, and don't teach, our children about valuing difference.
Some of us may have internalized negative attitudes about our identity groups because of racism and discrimination that we experienced growing up. As such, we sometimes pass these negative attitudes along to our children, or we are reluctant to have open, honest dialogue about discrimination with our children because these conversations are too painful.
Others of us may have been raised in families where parents and other relatives conveyed racist and discriminatory attitudes about other groups of people. Even if we do not openly display such behavior, it may affect our beliefs about others on a subconscious level. Knowingly or unknowingly, we can pass along many of these unspoken beliefs to our own children.
Simply living in a society in which discrimination — at times, legal — has played such a prominent role affects us all on some level.
We know that biases are learned. We also know that we as parents impart many of the most important, lasting lessons in our children's lives. If we hope to pass on lessons that emphasize acceptance and tolerance, we have to be willing to live those values. This calls on us to take on the crucial work of reflecting upon and addressing our personal biases. It is work that is rarely easy — and work that must be ongoing.