Religious tolerance has long been a concern for many parents, but it is becoming a bigger and bigger issue for most Americans today. There are many reasons for this, but the primary one is that the access to global information has become greater and greater in recent years, and people are exposed to all types of religious beliefs and values. While this has the potential to open your child's eyes to a wide array of different peoples, beliefs and ideas, it is also possible that a child can learn to be intolerant of those beliefs as a result as well.
1. Provide a Firm Understanding of Your Own Beliefs
If your family practices, inform your child from an early stage as to not only the fundamental ideas and beliefs of your faith but also why you have come to follow that practice. This can be a great way of introducing your child to his family history and learning about the history of your faith as well. If you are not practicing, explain to your child your reasons for not subscribing to a particular faith. It's important to make sure that your child understands his own background first so that he can appreciate how other people have unique backgrounds of their own.
2. Teach Your Child The Beliefs and Practices of Others
Secure your own understanding of other religions and faiths before you attempt to teach your child about them. Get accurate information by visiting official websites or by receiving informational brochures from local institutions in your area. This way, you'll be able to give your child a good idea and an accurate representation of the customs and beliefs of others around him, rather than any misinformation that may exist in the outside world as well.
3. Participate in Multi-Religious Events
Most communities have celebrations for different religious services and holidays. In order to give your child a chance to learn about these different beliefs and practices, allow him to experience them for himself. Learn about the holy days and practices of other communities in your area by attending events that are open to the public. Give your child plenty of opportunities to ask questions and to learn for himself what the other beliefs are.
4. Discourage Intolerance
It's important that you set a good example for your child in terms of displaying religious tolerance. Do not say anything that may be construed as intolerant, hurtful or misinformed about another religious group or set of people. If your child makes any statements of this type, explain to him the damage that his words can cause and ensure that he understands that you will not tolerate statements of that kind as well.
For more information, it's helpful to share teachings in religious tolerance with other people; encourage your child to develop friendships with people of all different backgrounds and religious beliefs, if you find it appropriate.