Identity Formation

Here is how it happens.

Margaret, age 3, sees another little girl in the park and begins to talk to herself:

“What language does that girl speak? Hebrew or Arabic? That’s OK. That’s OK she speak different language.”

(This year she’s interested in language differences; last year it was racial differences: “I like white people. I like brown people. I like all the people.”)

Hannah, age 5, talking with us about religious conversion:

Terence: “So Daddy was raised Catholic and then changed his mind. When you are a grown up, you can decide what religion you want to be also.”

Hannah: “I could decide to be Jewish.”

Terence: “Right, you could. Or you could decide to be Muslim. Or Hindu. Or whatever.”

Hannah: “No, not Muslim.”

Terence: “Why?”

Hannah: “Because I lived in Israel, and Israel was having a war with Muslim people, so I wouldn’t want to be that.”

Addition (after Terence’s comment): of course, we continued this conversation and asked Hannah a lot more questions. I was just startled that Hannah came to that conclusion after 6 weeks in this country. And she’s surrounded by peers from all backgrounds and religions, and she has us for parents. It really made me understand how perspectives get ingrained quickly.


About hilarymead

Taking two young kids, a great husband, and a whole lot of questions to Jerusalem for a year's sabbatical.
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4 Responses to Identity Formation

  1. tgilheany says:

    Just so everyone knows, that was most emphatically NOT the end of that conversation!

  2. I love the open approach you are taking with your daughter regarding religion. Your take-away is such a good reminder–one that reminds me to be tolerant, especially when teaching tolerance. I remember my mom floating this concept to me:
    If you hate a bigot’s thoughts and actions, then aren’t you just like him/her/them?

    I try to remember this.

  3. Suzanne says:

    Your children are the most extraordinary lens through which you two can see so many things that might otherwise have stayed in the realm of theory…Thanks for sharing!

  4. launaschweizer says:

    Floored, again, by Hannah. It seems to me, through the lens of child development, that Hannah’s intensity of feeling about this is SO age-appropriate for a young philosopher. If she just blandly soaked in your own complex adult politics (I’m OK, You’re OK, but the terrorists are inexcusable) she would not be talking about this stuff. But to NOTICE it, to feel it so intensely — this is a stage on the road to understanding, and the stages on the road are not the same as the destination.

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