• Respecting your House Staffer's Religion

    How do you touch on the subject of religion without offending your staffer while also protecting your child?
    by Tisha C. Bautista .
  • boy thinking

    Q:

    Our driver comes from another religious denomination, and during downtime, he shares stories with my son, who listens intently. I’m afraid this might confuse him. What should I do?

    A:

    Religion and spirituality are always quite sensitive topics to discuss. However, the foundation of any religion is based on respect and the importance given to trying to be the best human being possible.
     
    Before answering this question, it would be wise to establish certain realities ---
    1)    How long has your driver been with you? Does he have your utmost trust and confidence?
    2)    How old is your son? Is he at an impressionable age? Can he actually be influenced?
    3)    What is the tone of the stories told --- are they meant to convert a listener or only to provide entertainment?

    The answers to these questions may help determine the degree of action needed. Look at the following scenarios:

    a)    Given that your driver is considered part of your family, is well-trusted and admired and given that the stories told are more for enjoyment rather than any pedagogic value --- then exposure to different ways of thinking cannot be bad for a child whose own religious beliefs are intact. In essence, the goodness and kindness of a person is NOT determined by his religious preference. Separation between people is the real enemy of spirituality. A young person will do well to learn this. I would encourage him to ask questions concerning the stories and address them to both you and the driver.

    b)    Given that your driver is still new and you notice that his stories are slanted more towards effecting a conversion then it I would be more cautious. Explain to your child that perhaps there are other more productive things he can do with the time instead of just listening to stories. And although it is quite difficult to tell another human being that his religion is one that you prefer he not share, you can always explain to him with the best of intentions saying that you have all the respect for what he believes and on that note, you hope that he has an equal amount of respect for yours. Similarly, you would prefer that he not tell your son stories that may confuse him and that you are certain that if the tables were turned, he would agree with you.

    c)    Given that you are unsure as to the degree of trust you have for your driver as well as his intentions behind the stories, then it would be wise to err on the side of caution. As in the above example, take him aside and with the utmost respect ---- tell him with kindness that you prefer he not interact with your son in that way. It is nothing personal, only that you have your own religious preferences and at this point in your son’s life, you also determine his.

    At the end of the day, children learn by example more than just by words or stories. The key then,is to use spirituality to help you find your best self, for regardless of your religion, your individual actions as a human being will be the best teacher for those around you, no matter what their age.

    Photo by HaryoSuryo from flickr creative commons

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