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Some people tend to think that the words tolerance and acceptance are synonymous.  While they’re close cousins, they’re definitely not the same thing.  I’d like to demonstrate using my children and our cats.

Here’s Claire ripping away lovingly at Hercules while Evelyn reminds her in the background to be gentle:

Evelyn’s not completely innocent herself.  She tormented the cats a fair share (and occasionally still does).  Here’s her getting a little carried away with RJ:

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So what exactly does this have to do with tolerance versus acceptance?  The cats are generally patient and tolerate the only way the girls know how to share affection with their feline companions.  Once in a while, the cats get lucky and the girls scratch them just right though for the most part, they’ve got an obviously expression in their faces, confirming the abuse isn’t exactly their idea of a good time.  The girls, on the other hand, tolerate the occasional warning swipe that they’re going to far as long as they get to dig their hands into the cat’s fuzzy bodies when the mood strikes.  Neither party approves completely of the others methods but are able to endure them for the mutual benefit of both.  I like to think of this analogy whenever I hear talk of tolerance and acceptance.  They’re close, but really quite different.
It seems there is a way to live happily with one another.  Cats and children can sure simplify things.
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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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