He must have been in grade 1. He came back home from school to excitedly announce that it’s a festival the next day and a school hoilday. He then asked, “Amma, are we not celebrating tomorrow?”
“No, we don’t celebrate Bakrid.”
Even before I could complete the sentence, I could foresee the inevitable questions that were to be followed because until then the boy did not know the existence of religions. Not that it was something to hide, but religion just never came up in our family conversations.
“We?” was the next question, as expected.
W – Why not to use ‘We & they’!
Post #23 of the series: Instilling Social Equality in Children
I don’t know if there’s any parent out there who has ever felt guilty in saying to children, “We don’t do like this,” or “We follow this and not that” when talking to children around religions, castes, or any identities.
While I understand that using ‘we’ isn’t wrong on its own, this post tries to introduce the possibility of bridging people in the minds of young children when we avoid using ‘we.’
For instance, if we had to replace,
“Bakrid is a festival of Islam. We are not Muslims, we are Hindus. We will not celebrate their festivals. Our festivals are Diwali, Navratri, etc.”
“Hindus and Muslims have festivals of their own. While Hindus celebrate festivals like Diwali and Navratri, Muslims celebrate festivals like Bakrid and Ramzan.”
Do you feel the difference? While the latter is a generalized statement that’s factual, the former is personalized and emphasizes the identities that make us different from another set of people.
Some words that we use though might seem trivial, can be potentially carrying the seed to generate differences in children unintentionally. One such is the ‘we and they.’
The next time a conversation arises with your children in this context, and you’ll have to use we and they, try avoiding it to see if it makes a difference.
Have you recognized words that you think is better not to be used when talking to children. Please share, it’ll be helpful.