These very words set the tone for how we treat people. What are we teaching our children?
WARNING: I will be ranting today! I have some major energy in the above topic. So, if you are easily offended or sensitive, please stop reading now and return for a later blog!
That said, let’s chat about tolerance versus acceptance. I see the word “tolerance” everywhere…teach kids tolerance, we need to tolerate others, human resources departments that have tolerance policies…ugh! This drives me crazy. The reality is that tolerance is much different and less positive than acceptance! I don’t want someone to “tolerate” me, I’d like them to “accept” me…for who I am…even if I am different than they are. Telling a child you tolerate them has a much different energy and tone than telling that same child that you accept them.
Dictionary.com’s definition of tolerance is “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.”
Whereas Dictionary.com’s definition of acceptance is “the act of taking or receiving something offered or favorable reception; approval; favor.”
As my husband and I raise our kids and as I sit with families who are raising children a bit “out of the range of normal development,” I observe how tolerance and acceptance play out very differently. A parent may tolerate a child’s bad mood for a couple hours. A teacher may tolerate a teenager dying her hair or wearing his pants too baggy. I will be “free from bigotry” and not say anything negative about your differences. Yet, I may not totally accept you for who you are.
What about just being accepting? Forget the tolerance piece. Think about the following words…”I tolerate you” or “I accept you.” Which phrase gives you warm fuzzies? Which one makes your heart feel warm? For me, the answer is “I accept you.”
I accept you knowing that you are different from me. I accept our differences and will embrace those differences so that my life will be more enriched knowing someone different than me.
I accept you just as you are…whether you have a mental illness or your sexual orientation is different than me or you have blue eyes or our political views are different or you are a different religion. I accept you.
I accept you because we connect on an emotional level, even though our life experiences are no where near similar. I accept you because we have mutual respect for each other and because you accept me.
Thank you for accepting me. I need that in my life. This world is tough enough to get through. I need people in my life who will accept me. Through your acceptance, I feel your love. By the way, acceptance doesn’t mean that you agree with me or the choices I make. It merely means that you will accept me through my choices and let me deal with the outcomes.
Thank you for accepting me!