Staring isn’t something that only kids do—there are rude people all around us who are happy to stare, long, hard, and unembarrassed, at people around them who look different than they do. But kids are prone to staring by nature simply because they’re absolutely full of curiosity and everything is new to them. They haven’t yet learned that it’s a rude thing you’re not supposed to do.
But one mother is saying that we shouldn’t be teaching our kids not to stare because that just means ignoring everyone around them who looks different, and that’s not exactly ideal either.
Jenna Gines wrote a post on Facebook about how parents should react when their kids are staring at someone who looks different from most people, whether it’s gender-related, a physical disability, or just about anything that people tend to gawk at. Instead of just looking, she suggests actually interacting.
Her post, which includes pictures of two of her sons, one of whom uses a wheelchair, reads:
Please stop teaching your children not to stare!
What are we teaching them when we say that? Don’t look at someone that is different then you. Don’t be curious or want to learn about something you’ve never seen before. Stay away from things that are different.
“Instead, let them stare. Let them ask questions, talk about it. What is it that they see? What is it that they’re curious about? What is different? What is the same?
If it’s someone using a wheelchair, say hi. If it’s someone that looks or acts different, say hi. If it’s someone of short stature, say hi.
“Teach your child about differences. It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to notice it & to talk about it. It’s even better to make a new friend. It’s not okay to ignore, look away, or act like a person who is different isn’t there.
Let’s embrace different. Let’s talk about differences & be the change we want to see in this world.”
People (other parents, as well as the people who so often find themselves being stared at) shared their thoughts in the comments.
Some moms learned something new and decided they’d be changing the way they interacted with people when their kids were staring.
Of course, there’s a difference between looking at someone and just straight-up gawking at them. Gawking is never okay.
And some people might not feel like talking about themselves, so it’s important for parents to be able to gauge the situation.
But it is true that by ignoring people completely, we teach our kids to be mean.