The Thought Police
If you have read George Orwell’s masterpiece, “1984,” then you are familiar with the concept of the thought police. While such an institution does not technically exist in today’s world, you might well be teaching your child to act like a thought policeman if you are intolerant of other’s opinions. Most people today do their very best to avoid having children learn any sort of race or sex based prejudice. Parents who catch their children insisting that their sister is dumb simply because she is a girl are usually swift to correct that misassumption. That does not stop parents, however, from passing along an intolerance for diversity of thought. In fact, many parents would not think of themselves as being intolerant in any way, shape or form. If they cannot stand to talk about issues with someone from the other side of the debate, however, they are actually likely quite intolerant of differing opinions. This understanding that someone who thinks differently than you do is somehow lesser is often passed along in moments when a parent does not even realize the child is listening. If you complain that Christians are homophobic, Republicans are bigots, Democrats are morons, Muslims are terrorists or any other sort of cruel generalization, you are teaching your child that someone who believes different things about God or about how their country should be run is evil and somehow lesser. This is disastrous for civil discourse in later life. Your child will not be surrounded forever by people who think just like them. If you complain, mock, rant about or even wish harm on those who disagree with your position, you teach your child to act like the thought police. Only one way of thinking is acceptable. Everything else is somehow evil.