Explaining to our sons and daughters that they live in an unequal world is important. In the first place, because we cannot leave them out of reality, put them in a bubble and avoid all the disappointments or disappointments that they will run into throughout life, adopting an overprotective style that, as psychologists consider, ends up producing long term more pain than you intend to avoid. Secondly, because even trying to keep them away from the harshest reality, they will discover sooner rather than later that there are differences, inequalities and injustices in the world. They will discover it by chance, playing in the park, walking down the street, watching television or, they will experience it on their own flesh.
Child psychologist and mother Sara Tarrés He assures that, sooner or later, they will ask us if we are poor or rich, or why that person asks for money at the supermarket door, or why someone else sleeps on the street surrounded by garbage. Questions that we must answer as honestly as possible, adapting our language to their age and level of understanding. “Explaining to our children that these differences exist allows us to educate in such important and necessary values as humility, a sense of justice, generosity, compassion, altruism or empathy. Values that must be strengthened from the family and the school to counteract the injustice, selfishness, lack of solidarity and arrogance that we come across so many times in our environment and that this consumerist society pushes us towards those abysses ”, affirms Tarrés.
The psychologist and expert in children’s literature Gemma Benito tells us: “Talking to them about social inequalities is part of their approach to the world, knowing its wonders and also its miseries, to gradually form their own ideas and perhaps creative solutions.” Regarding how to raise the issue, he considers that the day-to-day offers many scenes from which we can ask them questions, “how much, more open, the less we condition their response. In travel, theater and children’s literature, we can also find various contexts of social inequality, which help them to think. I consider that helping our sons and daughters to think, and extract their own ideas, is one of the best inheritances we can leave them ”.
Talking about the abundance of natural resources, biodiversity, and the balance between humans and their environment would be a good way to start. “To add that these resources, although abundant, are limited, and some people accumulate them for their benefit. Producing exploitation and wars, which give rise to the existence of rich and poor ”, affirms Benito. Stories with which he works these issues that (to boot soon) may seem complex: What you want by Elle Duthie and Daniela Martagón (Editorial Wonder Ponder); Clouds and Scrap by Emilio del Peso and Julia Antúnez (Tramuntana Editorial); A long trip by Daniel Hernández Chambers (Kalandraka); The economy in comics by Jézabel Couppey-Soubeyran and Auriane Bui (Spaceship) or The book of greetings by Arianna Squilloni and Olga Capdevila (At a good pace).
For the psychologist Mireia Carrera It is important to educate in respect and equality: “Explaining why there are social differences is telling them that some have more money than others, but some are not happier than others or have more love or they simply cannot choose to have more. or less money in the future. ” He continues: “For some children, also depending on their age and understanding, understanding that there is hunger in the world, that there are other children who do not have toys or clothes, is too broad an idea and perhaps abstract.” So to explain them the best thing is to show a button: “Surely our children have a little friend who does not bring lunch from home or goes with torn and old clothes. Well, we can make them empathize with them and reinforce ideas such as sharing or not discriminating. When we see a person begging on the street we can encourage them to give them money or offer them something to eat. As well as taking the opportunity to explain the situation to them ”.
Her 9-year-old daughter asked Mireia Carrera a couple of months ago if they were rich or poor, Carrera says that even at these ages they cannot understand the concept of money. How much is a lot or a little. “It is more important to instill in them the value of sharing, of not feeling superior to others for having objects. The truth is that if we shared there would be no poor people, and in front of such a sad message a solution should be offered. We must take into account and teach them that being supportive makes us happy, different studies show it. The happiest is not the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least, ”says the psychologist Carrera.
Little match girl by Andersen or The happy Prince by Oscar Wilde They deal openly with class differences and poverty, Sara Tarrés recommends them: “Two stories that have passed from generation to generation awakening feelings of compassion and that allow them to understand that there are disadvantaged people around them for different reasons.” Reading these types of stories, even if they seem sad or (directly) cruel, but explained with sweetness, in a warm and affectionate environment facilitates the understanding, (not acceptance and approval), that unfortunately these social differences exist. Tarrés concludes: “It is our role as parents to educate our children in such a way that they develop and put into practice altruistic and supportive attitudes, that they learn not to hoard or squander, that they value small things and learn to live without so many superficial needs.”