A white mom writes in asking for advice about discussing race with her children. This mom, who is white and who says most of her family and friend group are white and/or Hispanic, says her 3-year-old recently asked a question about race. She feels like she gave a bad answer at the time, and given the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests and discussions about systematic racism, this mom wants to know how she can effectively communicate sensitive issues to her young children.
A member of the community asks:
“How can I talk to my children about race?
I am white with an almost exclusively white family and a white/Hispanic friend circle. I have a 1.5-year-old and a 3.5-year-old. My 3.5-year-old came to me a few months ago and asked me, “Mama, what color am I.” I was shocked and tried to change the subject, my friend asked him to repeat himself, and I stopped them, saying that I didn’t want him to think about himself or others as a specific color.
Given what is currently happening, I feel like I may not have responded correctly. How do I have a discussion about race that a three-year-old would understand, and also have it be constructive and not plant ideas of inequality? I, as an adult, can understand the premise around the Black Lives Matter Movement, and I can clearly see the inequality, but how can I relay to someone so young? I would like people of color or mixed families’ responses. What can I do to make a positive impact on my kid’s perception, and help your voices be heard?”
Community Advice for This White Mom Who Wants to Know How to Talk With Her White Children About Race
To see what advice the Mamas Uncut Facebook community has for this mom in need, read the comments of the post embedded below.
The community offered this mom in need a lot of great advice. Read some of their responses below.
“Simple terms, when they are old enough and ask. For your older child, I used eggs, chocolate. Different on the outside, same on the inside. Also, its good to have diversity; wouldn’t it horrible to eat the SAME cookie every day forever?!?! See the differences in people (and cookies) and see what they can learn from the differences and enjoy what each race /religion/cookie have to offer.
Lastly, read, read them stories about diversity. Google it. Tons of good kids books out there. Good luck mama!”
“Open a box of Crayons pour them out ask your children what colors they see. Tell them God made people of all colors just like the box of crayons. Just like their toys, flowers, birds, food… He made a rainbow of colors and we’re all beautifully and wonderfully made.”
“He is a specific color, we all are. It’s important to help him understand that we are all different, and yet we are all human. Our differences are a part of what makes us who we are, and it’s important that we as parents of the next generation help them to understand that different doesn’t mean bad. Just as there are different cultures, different races, different nationalities. Different parts make up one whole, which is the human race. We should be proud of our differences, and at the same time be accepting and respectful towards everyone. Acknowledge differences. Respect them.”
“I used to tell my cousin that we needed all the colors of the rainbow for it to be beautiful and bright (she LOVED rainbows). I said that every color is beautiful separate, but together they are a masterpiece. Then I told her people are like that. Every race was beautiful and together we shine and that’s what makes the world beautiful.”
“M&Ms. Worked perfectly for my son. We all look different on the outside but are all the same inside.”
“Color comes from melanin and everyone’s is slightly different. Darker comes from people whose ancestors come from where it’s hotter. Lighter from where its cooler. Bam scientific and done. 3-year-olds don’t understand racism. Just teach everyone deserves kindness and respect.”
“With my 3-year-old, rather than ignoring color, we celebrate it. Nobody’s helped by pretending there’s no difference. There is. We simply acknowledge that people look different and that’s ok. Our differences are what make us beautiful. I’ve also ensured that she’s around kids her age that are of different races.”
“I am not a person of color, but I would recommend some books for your 3.5-year-old. You can read them to him. You can also buy him toys that show different races. I am doing this with my 2-year-old daughter.”
“Be honest, lead by example, and check out the Sesame Street episode where they talk about it.”
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