Dos and Don’ts of Discussing Race with Children
White parents need to talk about race with their children in the wake of racial protests. Getting the conversation started is easier said than done.
It’s possible that the national outcry over racial injustice will mark a watershed moment in the history of the United States. White parents must bring up the subject of race with their children if they hope to instill in them a sense of tolerance and acceptance of those who are different from themselves. In this article, experts offer seven tips on how to start a conversation about race in your home and explain why it’s important to do so.
Don’t keep your mouth shut.
In contrast to Black parents who frequently discuss prejudice with their children, white parents who want their children to treat others with fairness typically believe that they must avoid discussing race. Being silent, on the other hand, gives the message to children that this is a taboo subject and that inequality is acceptable. Despite the fact that children are terrible at forecasting their parents’ racial sentiments, talking about race is an important part of the solution, even if it is uncomfortable.
Make a start as soon as possible.
Research has demonstrated that children are able to identify racial distinctions at an early age. The period between the ages of two and five is essential for children’s acquisition of knowledge about the outside world. As adults, we should answer preschoolers’ questions regarding skin tone gently and appropriately. Despite the fact that the term “race” has been used for centuries to classify and divide people, the truth is that there is only one race, of which we are all members: the human race.
Don’t halt the chat, please!
As soon as your children are old enough to attend school, start interviewing them like a journalist to learn more about what they know and believe. The assumptions that children make can be unpacked with your assistance. However, don’t be too quick to correct your child when they express an implicit bias. Ask yourself, “Why do you think that?”
You should widen your social circle.
Studies have shown that children who have friends from different racial and cultural backgrounds are less likely to exhibit bias. Friendships are critical for children’s development because they help them overcome prejudices and foster an appreciation for other people’s cultures. You should also make an effort to connect with parents from all walks of life, regardless of their race or ethnicity. It’s easy for white kids to conclude their parents don’t like them if they don’t see them interacting with their Black peers.
Set the right tone.
Because of the messages we have received throughout our lives, biases do not form on their own; rather, they form as a result of those messages. Children notice if their parents show symptoms of apprehension or discomfort when they are with individuals of color. You’re creating a tone for your children if you label a mostly Black neighborhood as dangerous or a predominantly Black school as awful.
Constructing a connection between people can be accomplished through the use of literature.
For youngsters, it’s crucial to see themselves represented in the pages of books they read, and novels that include friends from different racial origins can make a good difference. White children between the ages of 6 and 12 who read stories in which a white youngster has a best friend who is Black is less likely to be prejudiced, according to research. When it comes to friendship, shared interests, not ethnicity, are what matter most to children, especially those who grow up in predominantly white neighborhoods.
Don’t be scared to make mistakes.
If we wait until our children ask questions about race, the talks may never take place. It’s okay if you don’t always get it right. Talking to your children about race now will help them carry on the conversation when they are adults. The more conversations you have now, the more comfortable you’ll get.