How to (not) Talk About Race With Your Children

How we should talk to our kids about race and three things we need to stop saying when having race discussions with our children. Plus helpful scripture as you prepare to have a conversation with your children.

This is a guest post

As the pandemic is still lingering and riots are slowing down, the conversation of racial injustice is still at the forefront. What started to be solely about police brutality, turned into a full battle of the races. 

Sitting in the living room with my child, it’s hard to get updated on events when there are constant killings and bickering between political parties shown every day.

As a single parent, our country’s turmoil has reared its head, and now we have additional conversations we have to have with our children.

Our children are dealing with more challenges than we ever did, from school shootings, cyberbullying, social media, and a constant influx of digital information. It’s hard for our children to decipher what they’re experiencing.

But racism and racial unjust have been around longer than we like to admit. 

group of girls taking groufie
Photo by Aline Viana Prado on Pexels.com

My personal experience with racism as a child

For some people, my experience may seem like kids just being kids. But to me, this one incident at the age of 11 still impacts me today.

I was at a Christian Youth Camp in Williams, AZ. An exciting experience for any kid that has never been outdoors before (just a city kid).

One day, we were outside during our free time playing soccer on a field. Teams were chosen, but it wasn’t divided with diversity in mind.

We played and played, but tension started to grow. In the end, of course, my team won, which was primarily of minorities.

Related: Let’s Talk About Social Justice Issues

A young, caucasian boy came up to me and said such hurtful words, “at least my parents didn’t put me on the stove and burned me.”

Remember, this was a Christian camp, but my rage caused me to blackout. Yes, I got into a fight.

It was my first fight ever, and I almost was sent home early. However, God has a great sense of humor because, later on, that even during worship time, I had an encounter with Him.

At that moment, I felt misunderstood, hurt, and frustrated about being judged and disrespected due to my skin color.

I never remember my parents having a full-on conversation with me about race. But as I grew up, I definitely heard more problematic conversations and experienced more injustices that shaped my view on race as well. 

Racism through the lens of faith

Once I gave my life to Christ and had a different perspective on life, I have been spending a lot of time correcting past beliefs and thoughts that have kept me in a place of oppression, prejudice, and ultimately hate.

How Not to Talk About Race with your kids

Like I said before, God has a great sense of humor. He gave me a very outspoken daughter, and that serves as a mirror to my own flaws.

Related: 3 Things Christians Can do About Racial Injustice

I have been more aware than ever of what is being said around my daughter and being readily available to explain and help her process what she’s hearing and seeing in the world. 

Which brings me to certain statements that are being said and conversations that are happening that are truly problematic.

These small but impactful words can shape the minds of our next generation to continue the turmoil.

But with the help of all parents, especially parents, we can step up and be the change for our children’s generation and beyond. 

3 Problematic Race Conversations With Children That Needs Tweaking

“We don’t see color.”

This is one statement that I feel is very vague and does not address the issues with racism.

A large part, of course, is based on colors of skin, but the greater impact is with the idea of oppressing another for your own gain or feelings of superiority.

The right statement would be to encourage everyone to see equality. I say this because I don’t want my child not to appreciate other’s differences and uniqueness as it relates to culture.

We desire our children to learn the concept of equality no matter the color of their skin is the right way to live.

“Those white people! Those Mexicans! And black people are always!”

I’m not sure if this is something that is being said in every household. But when I heard my daughter say it, I knew it was time to better explain to my child how to communicate or describe other people that don’t necessarily look like her. 

One thing that is problematic to this statement is that it is often used with a specific behavior or stereotype associated with a particular group. I become so annoyed with these statements because they began to put us all in a category, generalize and eliminate people’s individual uniqueness.

As adults, we don’t like this way of thinking, but sometimes in our words, we can pass this type of understanding to our children.

photo of girls wearing dress while holding hands
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

“In God, there is no race.”

Don’t get me wrong; the bible specifically states that in Christ, there are no jews or gentiles (Colossians 3:11).

However, we still live in a world that continues to create separation in people. I love to teach my child the ways of God and how they should perceive the world they live in.

Related: Talking to Your Kids About Racism

But I don’t want to sugarcoat or not prepare my child for what they will encounter in the world. You can inform your child, but you don’t have to conform to the world to live in it. 

Our children today understand more than we think.

I’ll share about the other night when my daughter was trying to tell me a story about a police officer. Her climax was the man not being able to breathe. What hurts is that I don’t even watch the news in my home, but she is being exposed whether I expose her or not.

I would have instead wanted to be the first to explain it to her. But now, I have to re-organize her process of understanding at the tender age of 4.

Hard Conversations

There are probably many other things we say in the privacy of our home that is beneficial and some unintentionally damaging things. The good part is that we all face the truth as it relates to racial injustices and finally having hard conversations.

As much as we dread to have these conversations with our children, this is the world in which they live and grow up. Whether we like it or not, we have to be the ones to teach and prepare them for the world we live in while we’re waiting for our eternal life.

Scriptures to Lean on

Here are some scriptures to meditate on as you prepare to have the conversation with your children:

  • Acts 10:28: He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. (NIV)
  • John 13:34: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (NIV)
  • Acts 10:34-35: Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. (NLT)
  • Acts 17:26: And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. (ESV)

It is unique that most scriptures are in Acts, the book of actions. So what are you going to do?

All in all,

This post is not to condemn you but to cause retrospective reflection in the way you have talked about race in the past and in the future.

I encourage you to be mindful in your everyday chatter and gossip that there’s no minor listening in and learning from your conversations. 

For our future to change, we have to bring up the next generation in the values and morals that our nation so desperately needs.

Being made new is more than just being changed by accepting Jesus. It’s about you making the necessary changes and adjustments to be more of a light to the world than fuel to the fire. 

We are called to be stewards of the next generation.

We shouldn’t take our responsibility lightly. Have those hard conversations, correct when needed, and love on others who are different from you in front of your children.

Remember, they’ll be more inclined to adopt what you do more than what you say.

I hope this post blesses at least one single parent to speak up and change the narrative of racial injustice within their family!

About the Author

Chyna Nicole is a Single Mother of a four-nager, Christian Blogger, and Confidence Coach. She helps women, specifically single moms, figure out what’s important to them and ignite a spark of confidence and boldness in them to live the life they were destined to live. Chyna enjoys music, romantic comedies, and laughing with family and friends until her face hurts.

You can find Chyna at Made New Mama or on Instagram.

How to (not) Talk About Race With Your Children