One of the things I say ALL THE TIME to my kids is “get along.” A great example of getting along was the late Justice Antonin Scalia and the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. These Supreme Court Justices are some of the most looked up to and respected people in our country’s history. These two individuals couldn’t have disagreed more when it came to their view of politics and the law, but they were great friends. USA Today quoted the late Ginsburg as saying, “From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies.” If that doesn’t emulate getting along, I don’t know what does.
In today’s culture, I see a serious issue with adults. It seems like we just don’t know how to get along. This has become glaringly apparent on social media. It seems that you could say, “The best color is blue,” and someone will say that you have made the most egregious statement known to mankind. Social media has made it too easy to disagree with people because you can’t see the other person or hear their voice. It dehumanizes the person on the other end of the phone, computer, or iPad. It makes them seem less human, giving them less feelings. Popular culture wants us to raise children to be inclusive of all people. The problem is that we, the adults, aren’t practicing what we preach. We may say we are inclusive, but as soon as someone has a differing opinion on social media, it’s World War III. Individuals call others names for anything from how they chose to feed their children to their political leanings. Is this how we want to raise our children? I know I don’t.
I want to raise my children to agree to disagree. Does that mean I want my kids to never stand up for their beliefs? Nope. I want them to stand up for what they believe in, but I want them to do it face to face and with tact and grace. I want to teach my children that social media is for being social and connected with friends, not having heated arguments. I want to teach my children to respect the opinions of others and when they have come to an impasse with someone that it is okay to walk away, knowing that you said your piece with dignity and as a cool, calm adult.
How do we teach our children to find common ground and respect others despite differing opinions? We lead by example. We don’t fight on social media. Social media, no matter the privacy settings, is public and can be accessed. Kids are fantastic at hacking into their parents’ stuff. We treat others how we want to be treated. We teach them that we can love our extended family members who don’t have the same opinions as we do by having a peaceful Thanksgiving dinner. We can teach our children that if they don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Now, are we going to make mistakes and lose our cool? Absolutely. That is the best time to teach our children that they will get frustrated and lose their cool in life, and there is no shame in apologizing for their actions. We can teach them to get along.
I hope that my children can learn by my example and the examples of people like Ginsburg and Scalia. If they can get along, so can we.