How I talk to my kids about racial injustice
Elaine Su |
June 4, 2020
If you’re like me, you’ve probably been trying to figure out how to process, navigate, and communicate the tensions we are experiencing in our country. I’m one of the pastors of Vineyard Kids and also a parent of two boys aged 13 and 11 years old, and here is how we start the conversation.
Just as we, as adults, have witnessed the unjust treatment of Mr. Floyd, our kids may have also watched the same heart-breaking video. Your kids may be watching our nation protest against racial injustice; likewise, they may also be watching the looting, the destruction of buildings, and the tensions between law enforcement and people in the crowds.
These images can stir up emotions such as confusion, sadness, fear, and anger. All of these emotions are completely normal. And now is a good opportunity to sit down with your child to have a conversation. But where do you even start, especially when you might be feeling the same rollercoaster of emotions?
First, Go to God
So much of what we digest from the news, radio, and social media can definitely trigger emotions within ourselves. I personally caught myself blurting out words that I regretted in front of my kids. And later apologized to them and explained how my response wasn’t reflecting the love of Jesus.
If you feel like you're being exposed to information or content that is making you fearful or confused, I want to encourage you to take a deep breath, and step away from the source of your emotional triggers.
When Jesus became overwhelmed by the chaos and the large crowds, he would often find a quiet place to talk to and pray to His Father.
Before having any conversation with your child, I want to encourage you to go to God in prayer. Bring any feelings of confusion, anger, or frustration to the Lord, and ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with His love, peace, confidence, and wisdom to speak His Truth into your child.
Sin Exists, but God is Working
Once you are ready to have the conversation, let your child know their emotions are completely normal. It’s okay for them to grieve, to be angry, or even confused. Remind them that they can bring all of their feelings to God through prayer. He will help them sort them out.
As a family, ask God:
- To release each of you from the bondage of your fears, anxieties, frustrations, anger, confusion, or any other emotion consuming your heart. Invite the Holy Spirit to give you a quiet heart, mind, and spirit.
- Ask Him for increased compassion to hear those who are hurting, and for His love to overflow in you so you can be an instrument of peace and light in the darkness.
- Ask Him to increase your trust in Him, as He works throughout the details.
We can witness His handiwork through acts of kindness, love, peace, and unity. Point out to your child examples of how people in your community, nation, and world are expressing God’s love. Discuss ways that your family can show love to those in your community who are hurting.
What Else Can I Do to Help?
Your child might also be asking, “What can I do to help?” Affirm that your child can play a powerful and positive part of reconciliation by showing God’s love. The key is to ensure the best way to model God’s love is loving like Jesus. Jesus loved people of all color, shapes, and sizes. He was inclusive.
Remind your child that Jesus loved all people, good or bad. He even showed love and compassion to those who persecuted him. Remember when Peter cut off the ear of a servant during Jesus’ arrest? Jesus did not condone Peter’s reaction, but responded with love by healing the man.
How Do I Love Like Jesus?
First, we listen to those who are hurting. Encourage your child to listen to and be present for those who may be hurting. Simply being present is a powerful act of love. It also displays a servant’s heart by being attentive and present for those who are in need.
Second, they can pray for those who are unjust. Remind them that God can perform miracles. Share the story of Saul (before he became the Apostle Paul).
Saul used to persecute innocent men and women, but later turned from his sin and instead showed love by sharing the Good News of Jesus. If God can transform Saul (the persecutor) to Paul (the Apostle), he can certainly change the hearts of those who hurt us.
Finally, consistently pray. One way my family is ensuring consistent prayer is through a prayer challenge. We committed to praying at a specific time during the day over the next 30 days, with the goal of making the act of prayer a daily habit.
Involve the whole family and decide a way your family can be challenged to consistent prayer.
Here are additional Resources for talking with kids