Conversations With Your Child | Racism
Our children see and hear everything. They are aware of our world and the things that are happening in these times. They listen to your conversation with others, and they are listening as you watch the videos and hear the news. You might not think that they are paying attention; it is entirely the opposite. They are attentive to everything you do, which means they know what is going on and reserve their own feelings or may experience thoughts that they cannot yet verbalize. It is time to engage with our children in conversations about racism and everything that is taking place in our world. We must use this opportunity to educate our children on what is right and what is wrong and listen carefully to their perspectives and feelings connected to it.
How to talk to your children and, more so, how to listen?
James 1:19, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry...”
There is always time to listen and a time to speak. And the best way to start conversations with our children is via probing and providing time for them to talk freely. Children will not speak freely if they fear your judgment or that you will respond harshly to them. Children speak their mind when they feel they are in a safe environment. Let them know that you are there to listen and to help them understand certain truths.
Ask them what they have heard about what is going on in our world? First, find out what they know and the thoughts that run through their minds. As you listen intently, nod your head and validate their thoughts and feelings. Remember, you do not have to agree with them to validate them. Then begin to answer and respond to their doubts and provide clarity. Teach them about racial injustice and talk to them about what prejudice is and the right way to respond to these harsh realities.
Racism is Taught
We teach racism through the subtle comments that we make in front of our children. When we categorize people as being delinquents, thugs, lazy, and other negative labels, we are unconsciously alienating people, cultures, etc. We stereotype people, and our children are learning how to view the world through that skewed lens. Our words are powerful and shape the way our children see the world.
Genesis 1:26-27, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Racism is not something that God approves of because he designed us in His image. He called us to embrace our differences because we all represent a different facet of who He is. If we were all made in His image, then we all resemble God in many different ways—physically, emotionally, with our gifts and talents. We are all designed by God, the Creator, so we are all connected in this way. And as we honor each other and love one another, we are walking in the way God has called us to live.
Children are God's Expression of Hope
Luke 18:16, “But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Have you ever noticed a child’s ability to forgive easily? Have you noticed that when two children are playing, one minute they are fighting, and the other minute they are back to being best friends? Yes, children do not hold on to grudges. Their need to abide in love, peace, and in a moment of belonging overpowers any anger they may feel. Children have a remarkable way of extending love and showing kindness to other children despite skin color, physical, and behavioral differences. When the scriptures tell us that the kingdom of God belongs to all children, it is because they embody the kingdom of God. And what is the kingdom of God? It is a system of love, forgiveness, benevolence, goodness, gentleness, and humbleness. Children are remnants of the love of God and the ultimate emblem of peacemakers.
Pastor Alicia Partee