Mom Wants Us All to Get Along

A Scientologist, a Buddhist and a Mormon all walk into a house…

It’s not the start of a joke, it’s the beginning of a family gathering in my home.

In our family, the principle “respect the religious beliefs of others” gets woven naturally into family life. My mother-in-law is Buddhist and my own mother a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have more in common than one might assume: We do not have to worship God the same way to acknowledge the human spirit.

Photo by FatCamera/E+ via Getty Images

Starting Off on the Right Foot

Religious tolerance is taught by example.

My own “little ones” are teenagers now. But as toddlers, my husband and I enrolled them in a Seventh-day Adventist preschool. Their teacher had a high white bun, a contagious laugh, and so much love she taught preschool for over 50 years.

My children respectfully participated in Adventist-style prayer before every preschool lunchtime.

Throughout their lives, when we visit one grandma, they join her for yoga class and listen to her readings from her favorite gurus. When they visit the other grandma, they attend Sunday school and sing Latter-day Saints hymns.

When they reached school age, my children had friends from all over the world—Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Jewish and lots of branches of Christianity. They have learned about—and from—each.

Teach Them to Think for Themselves

Was I worried that all of this exposure to different religious beliefs would confuse my children?

Not at all!

A core tenet of Scientology is to think for oneself.

I have certainly raised my children to have their own interests, their own ambitions, and their own mind. But in order to truly teach my children tolerance, I felt they also needed some understanding of others—including others’ religious beliefs.

They now communicate respectfully with anyone, even those with very different ideologies.

And of all the many things my children do, I am most proud of them for being kind.

A Gift for Mom

I used to think my mom was being so lame when she asked for things like “a clean house” for her birthday. I would dutifully do the dishes and mop the floors, while secretly thinking that the latest Strawberry Shortcake or Rainbow Brite toy would be so much cooler!

Now that I am a mom, I get it.

So what do I want for Mother’s Day this year?

My heart’s desire today, and every day of the year, is for a world full of love, inclusivity and tolerance.

Tolerance starts at home.

I call upon all the moms of the world to teach our children to respect the religious beliefs of others.

May Livingston
May Livingston is a visual artist, writer, and mom, who would love to see her children living in a world free from bigotry.