Raising Kids to Stand Up For What Is Right
With the recent tragic events that occurred in Charlottesville, I feel, as parents, there is no time like the present to sit down and speak to our kids about hatred and bigotry.
It is important for us to raise children who will stand up for what’s right. To raise them to have a complete understanding of the history of this country and embrace all of it. To understand that loving the country we live in does not mean we negate its ugly history. That it means educating them and refusing to tolerate anyone who chooses to hate someone solely on their skin color.
In our home, we have been having conversations about race with my eight-year-old when he entered second grade because a classmate pointed out the difference between his skin color and hers and he didn’t understand what the big deal was. For us, these conversations have been happening with more frequency because it is important for our kids to know people should not be treated differently because of their physical appearance.
As New Yorkers know we are in a unique situation, we are exposed to people from all walks of life and have a different mindset when dealing with race issues, but even in New York, these issues still exist. So to raise engaged and open-minded children, I believe as parents we should:
- Have conversations about race. Avoiding certain conversations with our children because it makes us uncomfortable does nothing to preserve the innocence of our children. Sticking our heads in the ground and pretending racism doesn't exist does not prepare them for life outside of their familial bubbles. Also, we can not expect our kids to stand up for what is right if we are not willing to equip them with the tools and values needed for them to do so.
- Understand teaching kids to be colorblind is not a solution. Raising children not to see color will not help them understand the differences that exist. This approach does not help them fully comprehend the importance of treating everyone fairly and with respect.
- Educate yourself first. To teach and guide our children, we need to do our homework. We need to go deep into the history of racism and go beyond what we learned in history class before making any attempt to explain it to our kids.
- Know what children are watching. We have to be tuned into the content our children are consuming. Be open to having those difficult conversations, listen and empathize with how they are thinking and feeling.
- Normalize diversity. Be active in seeking and providing diverse experiences by exposing children to different environments/communities and books with characters that are different than they are.
We are the starting point for our children. They rely on us to teach and show them how human decency and empathy works, let's do our best to fail not them.