Teach Children Love and Inclusiveness

Christine Sweeney, LICSW Program Manager, Parent Connection, BIDMC

JUNE 11, 2020

Black Girl Hula Hooping at Neighborhood Party

If we, as parents, can teach our children love instead of hate, we can make a difference.

In my 30 years of working with new parents, this is a unique time. Making decisions about visits with family, figuring out childcare plans, and when or if you will be returning to work are complicated right now. These situations cause increased anxiety, stress and feelings of loss in addition to the "normal" adjustments of coping with sleep deprivation, learning to breastfeed, and trying to figure out just what is going on with your little one.

And then, as we watched from our living rooms, we saw the ugliness of racism in its worst form play out in front of us. For people of color, this was not new. For those who are white, perhaps this was the first true understanding of the reality of racism in our country.

I am glad to see the peaceful protests, demanding an end to the systemic racism in our country. Pictures of police officers joining with protesters and taking a knee give a sense of hope that love really is the answer

Perhaps you have participated in the protests, or with a newborn or young child at home, joining the marches isn't a possibility right now. Perhaps you are struggling with what you can do on a more personal level.

As parents we have an opportunity to influence the next generation, but first it starts with self-reflection. For those who are white, it means examining the messages we learned about race from a very early age, and looking at those messages from a more informed and educated, adult perspective. We can teach our children, not to be color blind, but to understand and embrace our differences.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has some great online resources for parents on how to talk to young children about race, including: Talking to Children About Racial Bias. As parents, we have an opportunity to shape the next generation. If we teach love instead of hate, one by one, we can make a difference.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
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