July 7, 2020
By Lisa Keane
Special to The Alabama Baptist
On Sunday, as we watched church online from our couch, my 8-year-old daughter asked a very important question. An elder from our church had just spent a great deal of time in prayer about racial unity, healing and reconciliation. As the prayer was concluded, my daughter asked, “What was that prayer all about? Why was he talking about race?”
In our family, we do not have the news on, and we do not talk about the news around our young children, so for her this was new information.
She has learned about the civil rights movement in school, and she knows that her dad is pursuing a doctorate to help those who do not have as much privilege as we do. But in her mind, she could not reconcile that what she has learned in civil rights history could still have work that needs to be done today.
Her exact words were, “Why are people still having to fight for their rights?” This broke my heart.
As a family that afternoon, we watched the Sesame Street Town Hall special on racism. We had thoughtful conversations, and both of our children asked wonderful questions.
As Mister Rogers said, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”
We did just that. We talked about upsetting things, sad things, and made them all mentionable because as parents, this is where we allow our children to become aware and make changes for future generations.
We defined racism and civil rights. It was good and serious, and then later that night we prayed about all that we had learned.
Talking that afternoon opened up the opportunity to have some great spiritual, gospel-centered conversations around injustice, race and equality.
We reminded our kids that all people were created in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). We talked about how we treat others like we want to be treated no matter the color of their skin (Matt. 7:12). We discussed how God has called us to help the oppressed and those that might not have the same privileges that we have (Prov. 31:9).
My prayer is that these truths will always reign true in both of my children’s hearts and that those truths will be a guiding star for the way they treat people. We are praying they stand up for what is right and pray for those that oppress others.
As a therapist, I commend parents all around our country that are having these hard conversations with their kids around their dinner tables or while driving down the street.
It is good for us to mention and talk about things with our children, as that action takes away the secrecy or taboo nature around a topic that often makes children more anxious.
Taking this step allows children to know you are a safe person, one they can trust to tell them the truth and process hard feelings with.
If you find yourself struggling to talk with your children about racism and civil rights, consider what may be stirring in your heart that may be holding you back from having these important conversations.
Personally speaking, there was a part of me that did not want to introduce a hard conversation out of fear that I would ruin some sense of innocence in my children.
No. 1 faith-trainers
But the reality is, they will hear about it, experience it and eventually be introduced to the conversation.
As their parents and No. 1 faith-trainers, I want my kids to hear the right gospel messages from us, their parents. We are all image bearers of God, and we are called to stand with those who are not being treated as such.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Faith & Family is a bimonthly look at important spiritual, cultural and relational issues facing today’s families. For more articles on contemporary topics like these, go to PathwaysProfessional.org/blog. Lisa Keane (MAMFC, LPC-S, NCC, Registered Play Therapist Supervisor) is clinical director of marriage and family for Pathways Professional Counseling, a sister ministry of Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries.
For more articles on contemporary topics like these, go to PathwaysProfessional.org/blog.
Lisa Keane (MAMFC, LPC-S, NCC, Registered Play Therapist Supervisor) is clinical director of marriage and family for Pathways Professional Counseling, a sister ministry of Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries.