There’s a heated debate raging out there right now. Well, there’s many of them, but I’m talking about two phrases you’ve probably heard being thrown around. “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter.” (If you haven’t heard either of those, open literally any social media platform and read for about thirty seconds… you’ll find one or the other.) I’m not here to tell you what you should be saying around the dinner table, that’s between you and Jesus, but I do hope to bring up a couple questions about what our kids are learning about the world we live in.
Kids are pretty dang smart. They see and hear what is going on around them and, more to the point, they are pretty good at putting it all together to make sense of the world around them. The problem, though, is that the world is a big place full of anger, opinions, and fear, and without a guide it’s an easy place for a kid to get lost. Without a guide, they have to find their own way, make their own assumptions, and learn their own lessons. The good news is that, for most of them, there is a parent or loved one to help them make sense of the endless stream of information that encounter every day. The bad news is that, unfortunately, in the pace of our lives, our kids are internalizing a lot of things that will go totally unnoticed.
Now, don’t hear me saying you are a bad parent. We believe that nobody is more committed to a child’s future than their parents. My goal is to simply ask you to take a step back. Consider what you believe to be true about people of every gender, ethnicity, and nationality. Unfortunately, our initial thoughts rarely reveal what we truly believe; they’re more of a conditioned response, so I would ask you to look deeper. Do you have a prejudice against men because of a man in your past? Do you have a prejudice against Mexican-Americans because of how your grandfather used to talk about them? What is your gut reaction when you see a black person walking down your street? It may be that you have no reaction at all, but I would argue that most of us, if we are honest, have some sort of residing negativity toward those who don’t look like us, act like us, or inhabit the world we inhabit.
I’m biracial. My mom is black and my dad is white. I grew up in a white neighborhood in suburban Texas. I had white friends, I went to a white school, and I distrusted the black kids because they weren’t like my mom. They were hood kids: dangerous, unruly, and different. When this most recent bout of civil unrest hit our country I, like many of my white friends and family, had to come face-to-face with my prejudice. When I pre-judged people in my life based on their skin color, I demonstrated my own racist tendencies. It doesn’t make me evil, it makes me broken, just like everybody else.
You probably aren’t a bad person. Whether it’s because of someone’s skin color, socioeconomic status or even as something simple as a tattoo, prejudice is everywhere and in everyone. As the Apostle Paul writes, “a little bit of yeast works through the whole batch of dough” (Galatians 5:9 NLT). If there is a little bit of yeast in you, it will work its way into your kids. They internalize what you demonstrate. They hear what language goes uncorrected at the family picnic. If you cross the street to avoid a certain kind of person, your kids notice. They feel your nerves around certain people and relaxation around others.
Today, we have an amazing opportunity to ask Jesus to make the yeast that works through our families His Holy Spirit. Your kids will hear what language you correct. They’ll see who you invite into your home. They’ll know who to love, but you have to show them.
Here's a few places to start:
- Have uncomfortable conversations. You don’t need to have all the answers, but when your kids see you struggle, they learn that their struggles are not unique to them. Seek out significant relationships with people from different backgrounds and ethnicities. Ask them about their experience and how you can celebrate their heritage.
- Get educated. Check out some of these resources we recommend to help you begin having conversations with your kids about racism.
- Pray. God is seeking those with humble and repentant hearts. Ignorance is not a commentary on character, but the willingness to remain ignorant is. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth. Truth about yourself, others, and the world around you.
AsburyKids exists to impact families with the whole message of God’s Kingdom. If you have questions or want to know of some resources to help you have difficult conversations with your kids, please reach out to us.