Talking about race with your kids requires reasoning skills.
It also requires that you understand what your kid’s racial development needs.
Feeling Caught In The Middle With A Middle Schooler?
As children enter their middle school years, their prefrontal cortex is still developing. Academic demands begin to require more independent management of their time. So, formal “sit down” times of “deep conversation” may get sidelined.
And they may need to be.
During this time, children are transitioning towards more independent thought. As a mom, your task then becomes to look for “teachable moments” in real-time.
Since children, particularly during this stage, learn more from what is “caught than taught,” the foundation you laid during their concrete thinking stage will be a key reference point for you.
And, even if you feel you didn’t do the kind of modeling needed early on, it’s never too soon start making the appropriate changes or shifts in your approach.
The following tactics for your middle schooler will help as you approach having the race-talk.
Tips for Middle School Race Talk
Reasoning with them involves fielding their questions about experiences going on around them. It also involves proactively pointing out things you observe and then state possible reasons for those occurrences. The key is not come across as a “know-it-all” but as someone who is curious about things.
Actions of others around them, particularly regarding what constitutes a kind or mean action. Since middle school is when the “mean girl” activities can begin to surface, helping your daughter understand this distinction in particular will come in handy during her later years.
Consequences of behaviors are another reference point when it comes to having race-talks with your middle schooler. This comes in the form of how you go about disciplining them and pointing out the ways in which there may be discrepancies in the way consequences are doled out to people from different racial backgrounds.
Educating them about the history of your own race and culture – the good, the bad, the ugly, okay.
Hiding From Your High Schooler?
Oftentimes, as a mom, it’s easy to fall into the “trap” of thinking: “They have the internet and don’t need my input.”
Knowledge with no compass
is like a ship with no rudder.
Your teenager does need you and your input more than ever. The key is to engage with an ear towards listening with an inquiring heart, and then looking for “reachable moments” – moments when you think they’ll be more receptive to your inquiries about their thoughts and feelings about race, current events, and life.
Tips For Race Talks With Your High Schooler
When talking about race with your high schooler, you want to make sure to focus on the following aspects.
Real world readiness. You accomplish this by inquiring more about their awareness of what’s going on around them…in their classes and in their school at large.
Attitudes of others towards them. You will need to ask them how others are treating and/or talking to them.
Core character. Reminding your high schooler about her/his core character is key because it’ll help them feel better about themselves and help them know what to look for and value in others, especially those of different racial backgrounds.
Equality versus equitable treatment. This is a larger philosophical topic but can be “reasonably” addressed with your high schooler by your acknowledgement that equality does not always mean equitable treatment.
As a mom, having the R.A.C.E. Talk with your middle school and high school aged children will entail reasoning skills that are being laid upon your earlier years of modeling positive race-related behaviors to them.
For middle schoolers, you’ll need to focus on:
- Education about your own race’s/culture’s history
And with your high schooler make sure your high lighting and checking-in with them about:
- Attitude of others towards them
- Character traits that you want them to value in themselves
- Equality and how it differs from equitable treatment
LOOKING FOR ADDITIONAL RESOURCES?
If you are . . .
- Still feeling awkward about discussing race with your kids…
- Not quite sure how to apply the tips mentioned …
- Desiring more effective conversations…
Then SIGN UP for the Mom Talks Race™ Course where you will get:
- Additional race-related information
- More tools and strategies
- Research-based instruction