Are you comfortable speaking to your child about social issues? My son is 7, however, he has always just been an old soul, very precocious or as my gran would have said – if she was still alive – “ougat”. I never sat him down and was like… Hey people are racist, homophobic, biased and bigoted, so keep an eye out for that, but we chat.
This is some ways I’ve chosen to explain things to my kid…hopefully it helps you,or perhaps you can help others in the comments… We are here to learn and share.
Okay so when it comes to speaking to your child about social issues there is no right or wrong answer.
I lie, turning them into homophobic racists would count as the wrong answer in my book, but that aside… I believe you as a parent know your child, you know how much they can handle and you also know your own views and your own situation.
Like with us, Aidan is very light skinned, meanwhile Caleb (his brother from another – my sister – mother) has very Asian features. This means that although they are growing up as “young black men” genetically, there is a chance that they won’t be treated the same as even their cousins for instance.
So although they are Wakandla at heart they have both received racial stereotyping that does not reflect that. Caleb has been teased using derogatory terms usually reserved for people of Chinese or Japanese decent while Aidan has had friends pulled away and told not to play with the Mlungu (joh guys can you pick up how I’m trying not to offend with that paragraph… But you are following right?)
Anyway what I’m saying is that these are the ways I have gone about discussing sensitive topics with my child and I hope it helps you with ideas for speaking to your child about social issues…
Black lives matter
I actually never said anything about this to Aidan. I asked him what he thought about it and he said he had never heard it before but would guess it means that black people’s lives also matter. I asked if he felt this meant that other races didn’t matter and he looked at me like I was loony and said. No it means their lives also matter.
He knows that there are people who think that race define people. People who think that because you look a certain way you are not as worthy as they are. He says “that’s weird, nothing about that is right”
He thinks of race in terms of white, black and brown. This conversation came up when he came home one day asking if he was white. Someone at school had told him he was and I explained to him that he is actually a brown person but that it’s really just about how he looks not who he is
He knows that we are Christian and go to church and believe in God and Jesus. BUT he is also aware of other religions, Islam and Rastafarianism most closely because those are people he knows. In general I have chosen to teach him that there is one God and many ways to praise him. He knows that there are people who don’t agree and that they look down on other religions and I’ve explained to him that we don’t subscribe to that.
Homosexuality and homophobia
I know many people like to avoid this subject. I haven’t. He knows that some men like other men, some women like other women, some people like both genders. He knows that some people feel like they aren’t born in the right body and might change to fit the body they believe they were supposed to be born into. He also knows that people aren’t always very nice about this and that bullying is very real.
He knows that there are certain things that only certain groups of people do. Like different ways of celebrating things, different clothing, different food. I love highlighting the beauty of diversity and reminding him that this is not cause for segregation, its an opportunity to learn.
I think my “big tip” regarding speaking to your child about social issues is not to make it a big thing. I never have these BIG let’s talk Aidy, moments… He asks me a question and I answer honestly. If something happens or he sees something on TV, I talk to him about his feelings and my beliefs.
I leave plenty of space for his own experiences and his own beliefs (like he can’t phantom how people can be “cruel enough” to eat animals and I haven’t told him he is wrong, just that he is allowed his opinions, but not allowed to be mean about them) and I’m here if he needs to talk through his feelings.
Oh and my biggest tip is this: DONT BE A BIGOTED A’HOLE and then there is less chance of your kid being one.
Children mirror our behavior, they see how you interact with people who are different from you. They hear the jokes you laugh at, they interact with the people you interact with.
So keep checking in with yourself. Are you displaying the attributes you want your child to display? Doing is way more important than saying