5 Things to Teach Children About Tolerance

If there is one hot button to set an Indonesian off, it would be religion.

Intolerance From a Mother’s Point of View


Yes, I know the above statement is generalizing and not all Indonesians are that short-tempered. Yet sadly, every day I see posts after posts on Facebook that talk about the religious uproar and witnessing the spike of intolerance in this country.

Friends attacking each other – don’t even start with how people will virtually attack strangers online for speaking up against intolerance, for stating facts that God does not teach people to be violent.

Friends call each other “kafir” (infidel) for not defending their religion or for deciding to be peaceful instead of spreading hatred. When my Muslim friends would say the true Muslim teachings are not what it has become today, they too got called infidels. How sad is that?

Not only on social media, but I am also deeply saddened to hear with my own ears messages of hatred being preached in places of worship. Places where one is supposed to pray and get closer to God. This country seems to be shaken with so much hatred lately it is frightening.

I am a Christian by faith so that means in the predominantly Muslim-populated country, my family and I are considered the minority. Please bear in mind that Indonesia is NOT a Muslim country even some Indonesians get this mixed up. Muslim is the majority religion here but our law recognizes Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Kong Hu Cu. 6 nationally acknowledges religious beliefs. If you are an atheist then you are pretty much screwed – sorry, but that’s the truth. Religion is a must-filled column in just about every official Indonesian paper works.

Seems like there’s a looming dark cloud of hatred hovering above Indonesia at the moment.

How do I explain to my son when he asked: “Why don’t they let Christian people have their event, Mommy?

How do I explain to my son when he asked: “Why do they say kill Ahok, Mommy?

When I hear little children shouting “Kill Ahok!” on the street, my heart shatters and I wonder what have we become as a country?

I cannot shield my son from the outside world and what’s going on in this country. Even when I don’t watch the local news anymore, my son can hear the preachers and he can hear my family talking about the issues.

For my non-Indonesian friends, Ahok is Jakarta’s governor who got himself in deep water from a religious accusation that he insulted Muslims. Ahok is a Chinese Indonesian and a Christian. The first Chinese descendent who hold office as governor in Jakarta. He is a great leader in my eyes even when he is quite vocal. He has brought great changes to this city especially in fighting corruption.

All political reasons aside, I am one for peace. My most concern is how this has spiraled out of control. Religious injustice has a long history in this country, yet lately, it has escalated to the level that I can’t even comprehend anymore.

I am so concerned about our children’s future – no, I am scared about what kind of future the world will become if we don’t take a stand now! I don’t want my son to grow up where differences become justified license to kill each other. I don’t want my son to accept that minorities will have to be second-class citizens always.

As a mother, I can only do these at home in hopes that my son will not get sucked into this cycle of hatred.

5 Things to Teach Children About Tolerance


  1. Respect. This is the root of all good things. Respect covers the bases of all other great qualities that make us human. Respect for others and also for himself. Bullying happens when there is an absence of respect for others. Respect for all religions, sexual orientations, skin color, etc. Different does not equal wrong. I will continue to teach and remind my son to hold off the judgment cards no matter what religious beliefs or sexual orientation someone has.
  2. Manners. This is very important for us parents to teach and to lead by example. Not only do manners increase our children’s social IQ but it shows them as responsible and thoughtful people.
  3. Agree to Disagree. Educating my son that hatred and violence are NEVER the answer to any conflicts or issues. I must keep teaching him that differences of opinion are a part of life and what matters is the way we react and how we control our own emotions.
  4. Acceptance. Teaching him that there are different kinds of people on this planet. Like rainbows; different colors, different shades yet it doesn’t make those who are different than us any less human or lost their rights as human beings. Being interracial, my son already understands that people treat him differently here and I constantly must remind him that no matter what, we are all human beings.
  5. Kindness. No one was born into this world with hatred. Children do not see the color of their skin or religion when they play together. Teaching my son to have compassion toward all living beings is very important. When he has kindness in his heart, then I will rest assured he will go far in this life.

We would have fewer angry people in this world if we all teach our children tolerance.

There is still hope to create a better future for our children if we start from home. Come on, people we are better than this. Please, please, please let us say no to hatred!

How would you teach your children at home about being tolerant? How can we raise our children to be agents of change? 


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5 thoughts on “5 Things to Teach Children About Tolerance

  1. Robin Masshole Mommy Reply

    Being tolerant is an important lesson for all of us to learn. I think the earlier we learn it, the better.

  2. Alli Smith Reply

    It’s so important to teach children about tolerance. In this crazy world of ours, sometimes it seems the people who scream tolerance the loudest are the same ones that aren’t tolerant when someone disagrees with them.

  3. Annemarie LeBlanc Reply

    There are so many crazy things going on right now, and even us adults are having a difficult time grasping the reason why these are happening. Children’s reactions to situations are brought about by emulating the adults around them. I guess the best way is to be good role models and to establish an open line of communication with them.

  4. Mimi Green Reply

    I spend my day trying to teach my kids and remind them of this list. I pray that they are getting the message even if they still fuss and fight with one another like strangers.

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