DETROIT – As we wrap up another emotional week of protests in cities across the country, worried parents are struggling with how to talk to their children about racism.
Cynthia Reynolds is a Bingham Farms therapist who works mostly with children. She said being against racism is just as important as making sure your child is against bullying and violence.
She said the message all begins with mom, dad and the grandparents.
“You have to honestly look at how you feel about racism and other people,” Reynolds said. “The first thing you need to do is educate yourself. Take an authentic look at how you have treated people in the past and what you think about them.”
Reynolds tells parents their children learn by example and they’re watching you closer than you might realize. She says to take an honest look at yourself and be willing to talk about what you’ve discovered with your children.
Start by asking yourself tough questions
“Do you have relationships with other people who are not like you? And if you do have those relationships, what kind of relationships are they are they?” Reynolds asked.
The conversation will be different depending on the family.
“For African American families, we have to always reaffirm who our children are for how important they are to us, and how important they are have been our people, our ancestors have been to this culture,” Reynolds said. “I think for African American families and other families of color is good to share this might be a little different share stories and history of other races. You know, a lot of times people grow up thinking black and white that only Africans were enslaved. You know, it helps when you share other history of Native Americans how the Irish were treated when they were here how the Japanese were treated.”
Reynolds said parents can’t remain silent and need to have these conversations. In a perfect world, she said, the conversation would start with parents and children at home, but with so many outside influences, that can be a challenge.
“I think the conversation starts from our culture ‚from our media, and from society,” Reynolds said. “I think that’s one of the problems is that the conversation has not started at all. But we need to kind of shift it and add on to what the conversations have been from our culture in our society.”
She said it’s a responsibility and not a choice to show children the right way.
“Acknowledge what’s going on. I think that would be the first step. Not ignoring, not skipping around and acknowledge what the problem is. The problem is racism,” Reynolds said. “Start off by finding out what the kids are thinking, what they’re feeling and where they’re at and then you can steer the conversation with that. "