5 Things I'm Teaching My Kids About Handling Racism


Racism and Rage
Racism and Rage

5 Things I'm Teaching My Kids About Handling Racism

This is a difficult post to write. I'll warn you now that some of you simply will not understand. Some of you will think I'm reading into things, that I have a chip on my shoulder, am paranoid or I did something to bring this on myself.

To you I say, walk a mile in my shoes.

For as many of you who scoff, click off this post and shake your head, convinced that I am overly sensitive, there will just as many who understand. I won't have to explain the indignity because you've lived it.

I'm an African American woman, married to an African American man for nearly 19 years. Together we are raising a family right in the middle of middle class, where I was raised.

Related: 7 habits of highly effective kids

But sometimes when we leave the place where we know people and they know us, we run headlong into a world with some who, regardless of what they'll admit publicly, see color first.

I ran up against such an incident recently. The details are not important; it just reminded me that along with helping my children navigate the labyrinth that leads to adulthood, I must also teach them how to deal with the unpleasantries delivered by people with an abundance of anger and ignorance.

1. I Teach Them Not To Return Fire
If you've ever been on the receiving end of an unfair attack based on hate, you know this is easier said than done. But using similar weapons to fight back just ratchets up the madness. I teach my kids not to feed into a stereotype or get drawn into a battle they can't win and ultimately is not worth fighting.

Related: How I'm using the upcoming election to teach my kids about respect

2. I Teach Them Not To Let It Throw Them Off Their Game
I never let race and racism throw me off my game but it did almost throw me off my bike. I was about nine-years-old, riding down the street when a boy hurdled that horrid "N" word from across the street. I was so stunned, thinking, "Is he talking to me?" that I almost fell off my two-wheeler. I never want my kids kids to expect to hear that word, but I don't want them to be as naïve as I was.

3. I Teach Them To Hold Their Heads High
The messages from me to them are: "You are smart. You are worthy. You make me proud. What you say matters. You have a right to be here" or some variation thereof.

4. I Teach Them To Come Home To Cry
As many of you know I'm a big believer in allowing your vulnerability to peek through. In most cases. But in instances that involve race, I urge them to come home to mom and dad. We'll hug, love and arm them with the tools they need to deal with ignorance.

Related: 7 things you should NEVER say to a kid

5. I Teach Them To Complain With Their Cash
I teach Casey and Cole about purchasing power. I refuse to spend my money at a place where I am not appreciated. I don't have to make a scene, but I do have to be treated like everyone else; I'll take my dollars and ease on down the road.

- By Rene Syler

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Rene Syler decided it was time for a change after two decades as a television news anchor, including four years on CBS' The Early Show. René was determined to find her own voice and inspire women like herself - juggling busy lives, raising children and trying to live up to impossible parenting ideals. The result is René's missive on modern motherhood, Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting and its subsequent website GoodEnoughMother.com.

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