Parents Talk About Race in Different Ways
I had to pause long and hard to think about this one. Race is not a subject I’ve been very sure about how I’m going to approach with my daughter. Up until this point I’ve taken a “lead by example” approach to educating her about how people of various races should interact. I treat everybody I meet as the human beings they are and make absolutely no allowances for treating people differently based on the color of their skin. My daughter has grown up knowing the children of people that have different skin colors than we do, and I doubt she thinks there is any reason in the world that they would be treated differently for it at this moment. Racism is a taught behaviour, nobody is just born that way.
She is approaching the age to start school now. This is what gave me some pause after reading through this article and talking to a friend about it. I think I’m going to have to take a more direct approach to discussing this with her before she starts. At home, she may never see evidence of racism being alive in the world. Unfortunately, that’s not the case everywhere else. I would prefer the way she views it skewed by my opinion of the subject and how it is wrong before someone else can plant a different thought in there first. Children want to fit in and have friends. It’s all too easy for me to imagine a situation where a “friend” she has made early on in school decides to be a jerk to some other kid because of their skin color. I don’t want that to be her first actual interaction with the subject. I want to have it firmly implanted in her mind that that is wrong and not something she can sit and watch happen before it ever comes up.
This goes beyond even races. Kids will find a way to single people out for anything. If my child’s first real experience of this is formed on the school playground I fear I may be setting myself up for an uphill battle for the rest of her formative years. Our children are smarter than most of us realize. Having real conversations with them even when they are very young is super important. My daughter is 4 years old, and she repeatedly surprises me with regurgitating some lesson we had talked about during interactions she has with other people. Even on abstract subjects such as how to handle fear, or how to deal with other people when their desires don’t align with hers. Just because a subject is a little more abstract or objective don’t assume your child isn’t ready to comprehend it.
If we can all just talk to our kids more often and maturely, we can make the world a better place for the future from the ground up. We’ve come way too far in the world to let a new generation grow up with hate in their hearts just because we weren’t sure how to talk about it with them.
Good luck out there.
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