By Tiffany Eve Lawrence
You’ve given your military children a foundation for understanding how racism affects people of different backgrounds. Now, it’s important to reiterate that it is a choice. When people choose to treat others unfairly because of the color of their skin, their facial features, the language they speak, or where they are from, they hurt others.
Keep these strategies in mind during your dialogue:
Being a military family does limit some of our choices, like where we’ll be stationed. But we can choose to be intentional in the community where we are planted. Just like people choose to be unfair, we can choose to model kind and inclusive behavior, like when our families model openness to learn about the different cultures in your new area. It shows our children that by making the right choice, to show kindness and acceptance no matter what someone’s race or background is, we create a space where everyone matters and feels safe. Our children will see your positive actions matching your powerful words.
Be Their Main Source of Information
As the volume of racial injustice is turned up in our country, our children are exposed to it more vividly. For older children who are in school, don’t let headlines and side conversations catch them off guard. Here’s an example of how to gently let them in on current incidents: “A sad thing has happened because of racism. A person was mistreated and hurt just because they are (race, culture, ethnicity). It’s wrong, and it shouldn’t have happened.”
Sometimes, children don’t fully understand, and they don’t know what questions to ask. Here, it is important to pause and ask them how this discussion makes them feel.
Acknowledge Positive Changes
Many brave people have stood up for kindness, fairness, and respect. They created ripples of change that have become waves. Some children have made change in their communities, too. Share stories like Marley Dias, who, at 11 years old, started a campaign to have more books with Black lead characters in libraries and schools. Every small act matters, and no one is too young to stand up for what’s right.
Tiffany Eve Lawrence is a journalist who’s been writing professionally for several years. She has a unique way of unpacking topics that can be uncomfortable, ranging from parenting to mental health and social issues. Her ties to the military as a Marine Corps spouse put her in the center of sharing stories of how those who serve are impacted. Tiffany’s journalism and essays can be found online and in print in various publications, including Parents, Glamour, Romper, Courier Newsroom, Military Families Magazine, and more. www.bytiffanyeve.com