Growing up, a lot of us were taught to not stare at disabled people — to not ask questions or even acknowledge them as human beings.
But this only perpetuated stigma and inequality.
How are we supposed to understand something we're taught to not talk about? How are we supposed to learn empathy when we're taught to not even acknowledge those who are different?
Instead of telling your children to ignore those who are different than them, answer their questions and explain that everyone is different, but that we all have a lot in common, too. You can even encourage them to say hello!
If you want to, you can explain what disability is in a polite way — just speak matter-of-fact and don't dwell on it too much. When you act like it's normal (because it is), kids will see it as normal and move on, too.
Of course, disabled people do not exist to educate. Don't loop them into the conversation. Let them live their lives.
But by teaching our kids that disability is normal, and by encouraging them to be open, be friendly, and not be afraid of those different from them, we can raise a generation of empathetic, inclusive individuals.
And when we do that, we welcome all kinds of new perspectives, new opinions, and new ideas into the conversation.