3 Ways to Help Our Kids Process Racial Injustice
1. Educate Ourselves on the IssuesBefore pointing fingers, jumping to conclusions, stereotyping, or making generalizations about any of what you’re seeing on TV, study the history of the situation. Ferguson and Baltimore and now Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, and Dallas are not exclusive events. They are instead intertwined in a very complex history and underlying current of injustice and discrimination. Our children pick up our attitudes, feelings, and especially our words. They’re influenced by our verbal and nonverbal reactions to the events unfolding. As a white Christian, my initial response following Ferguson and Baltimore was to declare that #AllLivesMatter. Besides, I have white friends who were telling me that #BlackLivesMatter was nothing more than a political movement. But during the Baltimore riots, I had a black friend, Pastor Rich Villodas of New Life Fellowship in Queens, NY, gently explain to me the futility of expressing that #AllLivesMatter. He wrote:
“No one interrupts someone at a cancer fundraising event to yell, ‘there are other diseases out there too!’ Or ‘All diseases matter!’ When people exclusively say #AllLivesMatter it gives us permission to ignore the deep pain, wounds and injustice the African-American community continues to experience here and now.”This is how ignorance and apathy are passed on from one generation to another. There are three sides to every coin. Let’s be parents who study all sides and use these events to educate our children on injustice and doing what’s right.
2. Model Compassion to OthersThe Latin root of the word compassion means to “suffer with.” I could have easily slept last night. I chose instead to stay up through the night praying for the families and children of those killed this week. I’m penning this post to other parents because, if I don’t “suffer with” these fallen families now, when will I? If I want my children to value human life, they need to see me, their dad, practice what I preach.
3. Tell Age-Appropriate Truth to Our KidsDon’t lie, minimize, or justify the reality of the events when your children ask about them. We do our kids no favors by lying to them about or minimizing a situation. Be discerning but truthful about injustice.
- Pre K- Grade 4: Younger kids are not likely to understand the complexities of what’s going on in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, or Dallas. However, there’s no better time than now to help them label emotions like fear, anger, disappointment, and anxiety. Though you may shield them from the violence on TV, they still pick up on your feelings and attitudes about the event. Be aware of how you’re communicating to them. This age is critical for developing empathy for others, and our kids model after us.
- Grade 5-8: Middle school children are likely more aware of the details related to this week’s events. One of the best ways to engage conversation about current events is to discuss them in light of the racial history in America—where we’ve progressed and the challenges that remain. This is also a good time to familiarize our kids with the leadership challenges we face in government and public service.
- High School: Chances are teenagers have strong opinions regarding these events. Instead of getting into debates about right and wrong in the situation or taking sides, guide the conversation on how they can take a more active role in being a leader in their community and a voice against injustice and oppression locally.
Joshua Straub, PhD, is an author, speaker, family advocate and professor of child psychology. He has trained thousands of professionals in Critical Incident Stress Management. Josh uses his experience and knowledge in the area of trauma to help people around the world and speaks and writes on emotionally safe parents and spouses and the influence of technology on today’s family. Josh and his wife Christi reside in Nashville, TN and are the proud parents of Landon and Kennedy. Connect further with Josh at joshuastraub.comThe post 3 Ways to Help Our Kids Process Racial Injustice appeared first on ThomRainer.com.
January 12, 2017
January 12, 2017