I have a love/hate relationship with the internet, but I’m all love for the world wide web when I see articles that aim to help adults talk to children about important issues like racism and violence. Unfortunately, this is a conversation that parents of color are used to having with their children. It’s time for white families to catch up.
At the bottom of this post are a few resources. And here are seven tips:
- Let your child know that no question is stupid.
- Provide age-appropriate answers that support what you want your child to believe about the world. Do you believe there are “good” and “bad” people? Then use that language. In my family, we talk about how when people feel mad or sad, sometimes they act in mean ways.
- Remind them what your family believes – and how that guides your family’s actions. For instance, “In our family, we know that everyone’s equal and important and so we treat everyone with kindness and respect. I’m sorry that other people don’t feel the same way.”
- Let them know that there’s also lots of good in the world. Brainstorm a list together of different things they’ve seen or experienced in the last day or two that have made them feel happy, loved and loving.
- Let them know your job is to help them stay safe.
- Limit exposure to upsetting media. Like adults, kids’ anxiety can go up when they have information they don’t have the capacity to fully process.
- Consider a realistic family project to help your child feel empowered to act. A few ideas are drawing a sign for your front yard, having a lemonade stand and giving money to a charity you believe in, or sending a thank-you note to an activist or politician you respect.
- Despite what many of us grew up believing, we know now that kids confront racism best when race is something they know they can talk about openly. Being “color blind” is a myth, and one that can be offensive to many people of color. Learn more about talking to kids about race here.
This article from the New York Times does a good job compiling book resources.
Local bookstore Charis has compiled a great list of books.
This article may be a helpful first-person perspective on talking with white children.