Parents who raise compassionate, self-aware children do 4 things when talking about race: a parenting expert

Many parents do not realize that children recognize race at a very early age. In fact, research shows this at six months, they notice racial differences; preschoolers show a bias towards the group when choosing friends; and from primary school, children recognize inequality of power in skin color.

Raising children who are aware of the problems of social justice requires open, honest conversations and modeling of inclusive practices. Of course, there is no reliable way to discuss the complexity of race.

That is why, as a professor who teaches the development of racial identity, I always tell parents to prepare for a constant and sometimes confusing conversation. However, the effort to create more belonging, inclusion and compassion in the world is worth it.

Here are four things that parents who raise compassionate, inclusive, and self-aware children do when talking about race:

1. They are open to race

Children pay attention to physical differences, including skin color, facial features, hair color and texture. Creating categories is the way they make sense of the world and try to name and rationalize these differences.

If your child notices and comments on someone’s skin color, support their curious questions and comments: “Hmmm, you’re right. This is a great observation. It’s nice to see different types of people and skin.

It’s also great to talk about “why” and “how”: “Did you know that everyone’s skin color is different because of the amount of melanin in their body? The more you have, the darker your skin. When you have less melanin in your body, your skin will look lighter. ”

2. Unpack stereotypes

Our race and ethnicity are part of our identity and bring us pride and a sense of belonging. But it is also important to note that race is a concept that has changed over time.

Race has been used throughout history to grant unjust privileges to some groups while hurting others. We all have biases and these ideas are passed on to our children through daily interactions.

Talk about your own biases and stereotypes that your children may have internalized: “Sometimes we have assumptions about people based on their race or gender. Do you ever do it? keep that in mind. “

These moments can be a great way to practice vulnerability and compassion with your children.

3. They create space for change

Anti-racism is the practice of actively working to eliminate unfair treatment of people based on their skin color. It is the dismantling of laws, policies, attitudes, behaviors and practices that are unfair and unjust.

The aim is to actively fight racism, not to be complacent in our position of faith in justice. Support your child’s natural desire to help others through thoughtful conversations: “Sometimes we need to talk when things aren’t fair, even when it’s hard. No problem telling me you’re scared. I’m scared too.

Another example of what you might say is, “When you stand up for people who are different from you and you want the world to be better for them, you become an ally. An ally is like a good friend who always takes care of you. treated fairly and always on your side. “

Action, however small, is the basis of anti-racist work.

4. They expand the conversation

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