Facing Your Own Bad Attitudes

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Were you raised in a home where everyone was expected to follow a strict party line, or were you exposed to a variety of points of views? Were you allowed to express your feelings and beliefs? What if your beliefs differed from those of your parents? How did your parents respond if someone made a prejudicial comment or joke in their presence? Can you think of instances in which your parents demonstrated intolerance toward anyone? What were they about?

What were some of your parents' political biases and personal prejudices? Do any of those remain with you today? Do you feel you are passing any of these on to your child? If so, which ones? Take time to reflect on how you might be projecting those outdated ideas to your child.

Take a serious look at yourself. Do you consider yourself tolerant and unbiased, or intolerant and prejudiced? Would your kids, colleagues, spouse, and friends agree with your self-appraisal? What are your secret, even embarrassing attitudes that you hate to admit even to yourself? How many friends of other ethnicities or cultures do you invite to your home or include in your family activities? What response, if any, do you make if you hear a prejudicial comment in your presence? What if your kid is in your presence and hears the comment as well?

Do you allow discussion, dissension, and debates in your home? What if the views of your kids (or spouse, friends, or colleagues) differ from your views? Do you listen openly to where they come from? How receptive are you to hearing all sides of an issue before forming your views? Do your kids feel you listen fairly to their opinions, or are they more prone to stay tight-lipped, figuring you already are set in your views? Is there anything you can do to cultivate more open-ended discussions among your family?

What can you do temper your own narrow-minded attitudes so that they don't become your child's views? What is the first step you need to take to be a better example of openness and acceptance to your children? Write it, and then commit to doing it.

I will_

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