I wonder, at what point do kids learn how to hate other people?
I have been around numerous babies and have noticed that they are all born with the inherent ability to smile, laugh, and love. Hate, however, doesn’t seem to be one of the traits that they gained from the womb, and therefore it makes me think that it is a learned behavior. Something that we are supposed to teach them along the way.
My kids are now 7, 5, and 3 and the idea of hating someone has still not registered on their radar screen. It’s an unknown concept. Like the Internet was to Abraham Lincoln. Now they certainly dislike things, but dislike is not the same as hate. Dislike is a passing thought. They dislike peas, picking up their toys, and waking up early for school. They don’t spend a lot of time thinking about these things though. Hating someone or something on the other hand is a much stronger emotion. It is something that marinates in your body and grows a little bigger and stronger each day. It quickly takes control of your thoughts and ideas and has the amazing ability to change your entire perception of the world. It stays with you for hours, or weeks, or years, or even lifetimes, and always seems to produce the same result: anger and sadness.
I want my kids to learn from my own mistakes, and as I look back on my life I have never been proud of the times when I have entertained the idea of hate. It would seem logical then that I should simply erase that from the curriculum from which I choose to teach my kids. Scratch it right off the list. Move on to more important learned behaviors like proper technique to making a peanut butter, jelly and potato chip sandwich or how to believe in yourself.
Now I am not naïve enough to think I can cut them off from hate completely. For as much as we all seem to hate “hate”, we seem to spend a lot of our time focusing on it and talking about it. It fills our TV’s, our movies, our video games, our emails and our conversations. I wonder what would happen though if we spent all that energy focusing on things that we loved instead.
No, I know I cannot shelter them completely, but I can try to limit hate from my own life, which will in turn decrease my kids’ exposure. I can be more conscious of the messages that I spread, the words that I speak, and the shows that I watch. Who knows if these changes will delay my kids learning this horrible concept, but I certainly think it’s worth a shot. Sometimes not teaching something can prove to be the most powerful lesson of all.