There is no right way to start a blog post addressing all of the brokenness in the world right now. I’m writing to you humbly and prayerfully, aware that I need to listen and learn more than I need to speak. I’m writing because many of you, who are white mothers like me, have asked how my husband and I are leading our family in talks about racism. I’m writing to you from a place of hope.
Let me start by saying that racism is real and it is a sin against God and his beautiful creation. There is no room for argument here.
As a white mother, I can often feel helpless in the fight against something as huge and disgusting as racism. Without realizing it, I believe that feeling of helplessness leads to apathy. “Well, I can’t fix it so I’m not going to do or say anything.” I’ve felt that before. Or this thought: “I don’t want to say the wrong thing.” These are the mindsets where a lot of the parents I speak with have landed. I also hear many parents say things like, “I’m busy raising my family. I cannot engage in this right now.” We have to realize it is a privilege to choose disengagement. Our black brothers and sisters do not have this privilege.
We throw our hands up in unintentional apathy and in doing so, throw away the enormous gift AND responsibility that has been graciously given to us in the form of parenthood. As parents, we have the God-given blessing and responsibility to shape an entire generation, starting with our own children. And shape it we will. Either with apathy or with intentionality.
You may not want to say the wrong thing to your children, but we can be silent no more. You may wonder if your voice matters. I want you to know that it does. Especially in the life of your children! You may wish that you were on the front lines of a march when instead you are “stuck at home” around a dinner table. But let me encourage you: the jumbled words spoken at your dinner table, during your car rides, and your words whispered beside bedsides have the power to start a revolution.
So even before I engage in conversations with my kids, I have started asking myself: what stories am I telling?
When I see someone who doesn’t look like me, speak like me, dress like me, act like me, live like me…what stories am I telling?
When I drive through a neighborhood in my city that does not mirror my neighborhood…what stories am I telling?
When my children ask about the marches and protests…what stories am I telling?
When I look around at my friend circle and realize that it is either wonderfully diverse or cookie cutter same-as-me…what stories am I telling?
When I say nothing at all…what story am I telling?
And I humbly ask you the same question: What stories are you telling?
The stories we tell about ourselves and about others become our beliefs and those beliefs eventually work themselves out as behaviors.
The narratives we take on as truth shape our worldview and that worldview directly impacts how we interact with the people around us.
The work of a parent is POWERFUL. The voice of a parent can and will shape a generation. The stories we tell now to our children will be acted out in their behavior for the rest of their lives and most likely passed down to their children.
As parents, we can no longer stay silent in the face of racism. We must actively use our voices to tell better and true stories to ourselves and our children. And first, we must dig deep and ask ourselves what stories have we believed that need revision?
Our kids are listening. Even when we are not speaking directly to them, they are listening. They are watching us for clues and cues and forming narratives in their minds that they will take on as truth and eventually act upon.
So let us use our voices in all of the small, hidden moments of parenthood to tell the hard and true and good stories. This is a moment in history, parents. May we steward it well.
Here are some more resources to help you as you lead your family in these important conversations:
Conversation & Celebration: a Guide for Embracing Diversity & Discussing Race
Raising Kids Who Will Initiate Racial Equality
Raising Kids Who Embrace Those Who Are Different