Developed by HRI Program Coordinator, Camila Dos Santos, M.Ed.
Parents know that sometimes, the lessons that young children remember the most are the ones that begin from their own questioning or experiences.
However, as parents, we can’t always wait for perfect moments to talk with our children, especially when the topic is one as crucial and urgent as racism and racial injustice. Therefore, finding opportunities to talk about racism in an authentic way is crucial to raising children that become adults who understand and fight injustices of all kinds.
If your child sees an interaction amongst adults that can prompt a discussion about injustices or inequality, use that moment to help your child understand what may have been done differently, or how a particular interaction can affect people differently. If they ask a poignant question about something they’ve seen or heard on TV, use that opportunity to talk about what it means in a way that is developmentally appropriate for them.
These conversations are not always easy to begin. It’s important to remember: “As parents and caregivers, we must have confidence in ourselves and in our children – that we, and they, can handle tough topics and tough situations.” (from PBS: https://www.pbs.org/parents/talking-about-racism)
If you’re not sure where to start or how to approach the conversation about racism with your child or children, check out the following resources:
- HRI Relationship Booster on Talking with Kids About Race & Culture: a one-hour discussion featuring two professors from UNC Greensboro, Stephanie Coard, Ph.D., and Laura Gonzalez, Ph.D.
- One Talk at a Time: Resource providing support for Latinx American, Asian American, African American, and Black youth and their families to have conversations about race and ethnicity.
- Standing Up to Racism by Sesame Street: a resource to help parents and kids can discuss racism and the protests nationwide
- How to Talk to Children Authentically About Racism: a PBS resource for parents
Perhaps what is most important for parents to remember is that when they make the most of opportunities to teach young children important lessons, they are more likely to occur in a way that stays with their child long-term and impacts their future behavior.