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Teaching Our Children What We Are FOR

Eboo Patel’s essay for the New York Times Tuesday reminded me that I want to teach our kids what we are FOR as a family. So we support restrictions on teenagers drinking alcohol, not because we are against alcohol but because we are FOR them having fun and learning how to make social connections in a way that is safe. We are going to talk to them about the problems of hook-up culture because we are FOR relationships that prioritize emotional and personal connections. We will frame challenges in terms of mistakes and not failures and we will congratulate them when they take risks rather than seek safe perfection because we are FOR learning and growth. 

Patel describes how, when it comes to race in America, he once only saw what he was against: white supremacy, institutionalized racism, and structures of oppression. And he describes how this posture of opposition started to distort his perspective. He writes:

“I lost sight of many things, like how fortunate I was to be a middle-class college student spending my days reading and the role I had in building something better. I was in a conspiracy against my own agency. I sense a similar tendency in the way race and racism are taught in some schools today. Calling out racism is part of the work, not all of it. After you get rid of the things you don’t like, you need to build the things you do.”

These words—whether about religion or politics or race or any other aspect of identity—are a helpful reminder to me that I want my life to be lived FOR people and ideas, not against them.

And I want to teach our children to live the same way.


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