After Jordan Davis: Talking to Kids About Racism
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The shooting death of Jordan Davis is an all too familiar scene in America – and sadly, so is the verdict, which found Michael Dunn guilty of attempted murder, but a jury deadlocked on whether he murdered an unarmed Black teen whom he found intimidating. While conversations around racism happens often amongst adults, having productive and empowering conversations with our children can be awkward.
Parents from all races are often at a loss when talking about race or racism with their children.
But there is some good news: kids and teens are ready to have that conversation and are already talking!
For parents who want to have a healthy conversation with their children about race, the following are some tips to creating a safe environment to have a conversation about race:
1. Make conversation about race a normal part of discussion at home. The more open you are to talking about race, the safer it becomes. If you grew up in a home where race was avoided or your family had strong racial views, it may be awkward to broach the topic as a parent. If this is your first time talking about race, expect to be a little uncomfortable, but trust that you will do just fine. Do more listening than talking and encourage your children to be honest in what they think and feel.
2. Don’t freak out. If your child says something that you think is inappropriate or racist (even toward his or her own race), don’t get angry or embarrassed. Instead, be curious and ask him what he means or how he came to that conclusion. Listen to what he says and try to understand his perspective. Once you have heard your child, validate his feelings and then help him correct the faulty thinking by sharing examples that disprove the stereotype or prejudice.
3. Look for lessons. When an opportunity presents itself to learn about racism and discrimination, use it to help your child look past our differences and see the similarities in people and situations. This helps her develop empathy, objectivity, and compassion as well as teaches her how to think independently and develop courage.
4. Meet your child where they are. Having age-appropriate conversations with your child is important to helping them understand that we are all the same. My 4-year-old talks about his friends who are fun, but have bad days. We focus on the common human experiences that shape and impact the way people respond to situations and others. On the other hand, my 15-year-old is going through the “That makes no sense” phase. Our conversations are usually around the irrational logic that people have when they are afraid of losing something or are in denial – regardless of their race.
5. Walk the walk. While our children are greatly influenced by society and community, we are their first influence. They see and take in everything we do and say like a sponge and spread it to the world. If you see something in your child’s behavior that causes you to pause, take a look at how you may have modeled that behavior. If you realize you modeled that behavior in some way, it doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, it means that you’re human. And, guess what?! That becomes a teachable moment, too.
6. Give them permission. Our kids are so much stronger and smarter than we were at their age. Give your child permission to call you to the carpet when there is a lesson to be learned or a conversation to be had that can enrich everyone’s experience. You’ll be surprised at how being able to have a conversation with their parents builds their courage and confidence to stand up to racism outside the home.
There you have it, six tips how to talk with your child about racism. Do you have any tips? If so, please share them with us in our comments section!
With love and light. Pleasant journeys…
Do you have a question for our “Moment of Clarity” JET Therapist, Jinnie? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be sure to keep it anonymous and confidential.
Jinnie Cristerna, affectionately known as “The High Achievers Therapist”, works with talented people to help them release emotional pain and psychological roadblocks so they can achieve their personal and professional goals. Specializing in psychotherapy, heart centered hypnotherapy, vibrational energy, meditation, and personality development, Jinnie has a nearly 90% success rate with her clients. Sign up for Jinnie’s High Achiever newsletter here or join her on Facebook and Twitter!