Tips for talking to your children about racism in America

Some tough topics aren’t only here on the news lately, many parents are now having difficult discussions at home with their kids. So we have tips for you moms and dads to make those conversations a little easier.

Talking with your children about racism, injustice, about topics you may not fully understand may not be easy but the experts say it’s certainly necessary and the tough questions from your kids have likely already started.

“She looked at me and said well are they going to kill Reese, which is her brother and it was so disheartening for me. I just started crying,” says mother of 3 Ashley Alston.

TX Children’s Hospital Pediatric Psychologist Dr. Gia Washington Readoux says acknowledge any fear your child is having and tell them the plan to keep them safe.

“Addressing that concern can be really helpful and maybe as that child gets older being able to extend the conversation beyond that, letting them know these are some things I want you to do when you’re away from me to help keep you safe,” says Dr. Readoux. 

”The problem we’re discussing more is the systemic racism,” says Houston-area mom Gracie Sukech who says current events has her family discussing racial disparities, in incarcerations for instance.  "A black man, 1 in 3 will be in prison. Hispanic is 1 in 7,” Sukech says.

The Sukech family believes the solution is learning about other cultures, in turn, learning to respect people who are different.

”We try to go to festivals, the Polish Festival and International Festivals. We try to go to museums,” Sukech explains.

Dr. Readoux says that's a great way to teach kids. Take Ashton Villa in Galveston for instance, you don’t even have to leave your car.

“Drive-by that building and show the kids back in 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was established but it didn’t reach Texas until 1865 and that’s the building where it was read,” explains Dr. Readoux.

“Honestly it’s just fun. You can experience the whole world here in Houston just by going to other areas of town. I live in a community that’s not very diverse and I went to church in a church that’s not very diverse,” says Lesley Conway.

Lesly and Gracie actually live near one another and are now more than neighbors. They’re in a bible study group together.

“The Be The Bridge group that we started gave us the opportunity to hear people’s stories, to create empathy for one another, to be honest with each other,” Lesley says Be The Bridge changed her so much her family changed churches, to one that’s diverse. “That’s what it’s going to be like in Heaven you know,” she smiles. “One of the last things Jesus did before he was crucified was praying for unity for his followers and when I looked at my church I couldn’t say I saw that."

Dr. Readoux says your established family values should re-enforce what you say. She says another great way to begin a conversation is to start a family book club and talk about what you’ve read.

“The more you practice something, the more you’re exposed to it the less you fear. Talk about physical differences between people, racial differences, limit making value-based judgments because of someone’s skin color or tone,” says Dr. Readoux and she adds “Parents think about the kind of adult you’re raising, not just the child you’re raising but the endpoint, the kind of adult you want that child to be".