Advocate and mother of a 12-year old African-American male, Daniell Rider from Central Texas, thinks that black parents should have an open and honest conversation with their children about recent police shootings and we think that she may be right.
“I always tell my son Malachi that he is a young black man and that he is not seen as just a boy,” Rider comments to KWTX in her hometown of Temple, Texas. “I think he understands what I say to him, but I don’t think he fully understands the full concept of death and the possibility of dying.”
How do you explain to a child that they could possibly be harmed simply because of the color of their skin? We have put together some helpful suggestions on how to start the conversation.
- TAKE A LOOK AT YOURSELF: First, be honest with yourself and feelings. Children tend to emulate the emotions of their parents. Let your first reaction be out of sight from them. Process and come to terms with your emotions. Once you can calmly voice how you feel, then you are ready to speak to your child child.
- HAVE A CASUAL BUT SERIOUS CONVERSATION AND BE HONEST: Parents should find a time when their children are not watching television, playing video games, or are more interested in the latest buzz on Snapchat or Instagram. Parents should sit down and first ask children what they understand and believe about what they are seeing and hearing in the media, from friends, and family. Parents should listen completely to their children, acknowledging their fears, concerns, and answer questions to the best of their abilities. Parents should have an open and honest conversation with their children about diversity, racism, respect for authority, how they are to respond should they be stopped by police officers, and make sure that they know their legal rights under the law. Remember, younger children express themselves better through play and drawing.
- REASSURE YOUR CHILD: As a parent, you want to acknowledge that yes, bad things do happen; however, you are their first line of defense and they need to know that you are doing your best ensure their safety.
- GET INVOLVED: We are social creatures by nature. Get children involved in events, rallies, church groups, etc. that strive to educate in conjunction with allowing a safe platform for kids to voice their opinions about social issues. This will let kids know that they are not alone, spread awareness, and hopefully open minds as a collective new generation.
- FOCUS ON THE FUTURE: [bctt tweet=”Let your children know that they are bright and beautiful and can one day grow up to be President of the United States of America if they wish.” via=”no”] Let them know the sky is the limit and their lives do indeed matter despite the fact that recent incidents suggest otherwise. Ultimately, at the end of the day, we all want to get home safely.