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How to Talk with Your Kids about Charleston- Lisa Van Engen

No one wants to talk to kids about a shooting occurring within the walls of a church. Honestly, explaining the complexities of racism that motivated the events that unfolded at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church are no easier to wade through, yet we have a responsibility to do just that.

Not just when tragedy occurs, but intentionally and daily.

The more we talk to our kids about race their empathy deepens, their understanding widens, the desire for justice grows, and hope is ignited. Kids are amazingly wise about justice issues. They will use their faith, minds, and hearts to make a difference and to share what they know with their peers.

Expose your kids to different cultures, skin colors, and parts of the world. How often are you seeing various skin colors in your travels, books, and movies? Talk about the history of slavery and how people have been treated because of the color of their skin. Though history tells us segregation has ended, ask your kids if they notice areas where people of one skin color live, work, shop, or worship? As a group of people, how would it feel to carry the history of slavery and segregation? Talk about the meanings of privilege, prejudice, and stereotype. Do you think certain skin colors have advantages and disadvantages? If we are all made in God’s image, how do they feel about people being treated differently because of skin color?

We need our kids to know it is never all right for others to be thought of as less than.

We always start with letting our kids know that we trust them, know they are wise and kind, and able to handle the information we are going to tell them. We don’t tell them so they can be frightened, but to help them know what is happening in the world and understand they can make a difference.

You can pray together that all kids can feel safe no matter the color of their skin.

Pray that this generation can be the one to rise up and truly live like everyone is created equally.

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