• Parenting

BLOG: Should I talk about race and racism with my children?

Dr. Danniella Jones, Psychologist, Palm Beach County Youth Services Department
Talking about race and racism is hard. But in today’s world, it’s more important than ever to have these conversations with our children. In a special blog series, Dr. Danniella Jones, a psychologist with the Palm Beach County Youth Services Department, helps parents navigate these difficult topics. 

Please keep in mind that while the following blogs outline a few places to start when discussing race and racism with children, the journey to becoming anti-racist and raising anti-racist children is one that requires continuous and active self-reflection, education, vulnerability, and determination.
Question: I’m worried that if I bring up race or racism to my children, it’ll put negative ideas in their head. Can I just keep quiet and wait for them to ask me about it?

Answer: One of the BIGGEST misconceptions that parents have is that by mentioning race or racism to their child(ren) they will somehow plant a seed of prejudice in their developing minds. This could not be further from the truth. Sometimes we communicate as much in our SILENCE as when we actually speak.

By taking a “colorblind” approach to parenting, you are teaching your child(ren) that race and racism are not important things to discuss or understand. Please know that talking about race and racism is not racist. Research has shown that babies recognize differences in skin color as early as 6 months and begin to ask questions about physical differences in others by the age of 2. Children are SOOOO smart! Regardless of whether you talk to them about racism or not, children “see” color and, just like little sponges, they are absorbing all of the messages they see, hear, and DON’T hear about the way People of Color are viewed and treated compared to white individuals.

If your goal is to engage in anti-racism (to make an active and purposeful effort to work against systems of racism), it is important to initiate and promote open and honest discussions around race and racism with your child(ren). 

More Answers from Dr. Jones

BLOG: Some helpful definitions in understanding race and racism
BLOG: What is implicit bias
BLOG: Why can't I say, 'I don't see color?
BLOG: How do I start talking to my young child about race and racism?
BLOG: How can I expand my child's worldview?
BLOG: Expert tips for talking with children about race and racism

Dr. Danniella Jones is a psychologist with the Palm Beach County Youth Services Department.