While racism is certainly nothing new, the events of the past week and the past few months have once again brought it to the forefront of our national discussion. The images of hatred we’ve seen have been truly horrifying, and those of the resulting protests both gut-wrenching and frightening.
At Kids Plus, we’re angry and shocked and saddened, and our hearts break for those impacted by the violence, past and present.
As parents, it’s hard to know what to say, or how to help our children process all that’s happening. We want to shield them from worry and harm, but we also want them to grow up to be strong and loving people who stand up for what’s right.
It’s always important to talk with kids. If nothing else, this moment in our nation’s history provides many teachable moments for our children as well as for us as adults.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents talk proactively with your children, to check in and see what they’ve seen and heard and ask what they’re thinking about. You can limit their media exposure, but don’t be afraid to talk about hard topics in age-appropriate language. Here’s a good AAP resource on how to talk with children about tragedies in the news.
While the children and communities directly targeted by racism are clearly the most negatively impacted, there’s now ample evidence that racism is harmful to the health and development of all children, whether they’re subjected to racial bias themselves, are bystanders watching how their peers or communities are impacted, or are themselves perpetuating negative racial stereotypes. As pediatricians and as parents, it’s vital that we work to help all kids understand and refute racism. The AAP also has excellent guidance about how to talk with kids of all ages about race and racism.
As pediatricians and as parents, we want to raise kids who have a healthy, positive self-image and racial identity, who see diversity as the healthy, positive norm, and who can be anti-racists, standing up for others when they see discrimination based on race or culture.
As always, our kids are watching and listening to what we say and do – and to what we don’t say or do. It’s important that we as adults work to help our kids understand and be able to talk about racism, and also to understand how to counter it, so they can grow into healthier, happier, more compassionate and capable adults. An excellent set of resources for parents, including information about how to talk about current events, is available from Embrace Race, an organization dedicated to “supporting caregivers to raise children who are brave, informed, and thoughtful about race.”
For every baby we see at Kids Plus, our hope is that they have every opportunity to be healthy and happy and to reach their full human potential, regardless of the color of their skin, or the culture or community into which they were born. Achieving this goal requires us all to learn from each other, and to teach our children how to value and respect diversity.
In response to the events of recent days, let us all commit to these important goals.
Drs. Todd Wolynn, Albert Wolf, Alicia Hartung, Sarah Springer, and Lucas Godinez are the physician owners of the practice.