The M&M’s Talk…

I am a parent. The job comes with no instruction manual. Believe me. I looked long and hard for one. I read a lot of nonfiction in hopes of finding out how exactly I was supposed to nurture, love, support, enrich, and provide for the autonomous extensions of my heart.

I love my kids. My parenting game is so very passionate, but so very flawed. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m trying really hard just the same. And days like yesterday, don’t make it any easier. My heart breaks for Charlottesville. And when my lovies ask me, “Mommy, why are you sad?” What do I say?

In my search for parenting-how-to, I read Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman’s Nurture Shock. This was an enlightening read. And one of my takeaways from this book was that I needed to talk to my children directly about race. The vague “everybody is equal” statements are not enough, according to Mr. Po, Miss Ashley, and research study. Children need to have specific conversations with their parents about race, equality, and acceptance. It needs to start young, it needs to be specific, and it needs to be reinforced frequently.

My efforts at this conversation always involve M&M’s

I went out and bought M&M’s today, and we had the M&M’s conversation again. It starts like this: “Honeys, people are like M&Ms. We come in different colors on the outside, but we are all the same on the inside.” It includes eating chocolate. (This is important. I site the Betsy-Tacy books and then Harry Potter for teaching me this.) And we talk about loved ones and heroes who have different amounts of melanin in their skin. We talk. Today we talked about what happened in Charlottesville and that it is not okay.

These M&M’s chats are not perfect. They don’t even begin to explain this.  But it is a start.

How do you broach complicated and disheartening subjects with your babies? Any suggestions on what a concerned mama can do about racism and violence? How do I build the utopia my children, your children, all our children deserve?


  • Ona August 14, 2017 Reply

    I think it’s important to help our kids see their privilege. I’m white, my kids aren’t, but they’ll probably have the option of passing, which is complicated and certainly a mixed bag, but can equal privilege.

    While we ARE all the same in all the ways that should matter, history and society mean some people are starting out with some pretty unfair stuff: people of color, women, the LGBTQ+ folk. Income inequality matters too. But race in this country and sex and gender everywhere are where the ugliest stuff goes down. If my kids struggle to understand why we have affirmative action (even when it appears to disadvantage them), why their momma supports reparations (even though her white ancestors didn’t own slaves), I haven’t done my job. If they think equal pay is feminist griping or that women (or men!) are biologically unsuited for certain kinds of work, I’ve failed.

    Books, when they’re older. James Baldwin. Cesar Chavez. Gloria Anzaldúa. I recently read Michael Eric Dyson’s _Tears We Cannot Stop_. I hope they’ll read widely. I hope we raise them to be thoughtful and kind, to always question their assumptions. It’s hard. But we’ve all got to try.

    • Amelia Hollingsworth August 26, 2017 Reply

      It’s not fair, and it’s complicated. And I’m not sure how I even begin to explain privilege, because as you say history and society mean some people _are_ running hard, tougher, and longer sprints. Thank heavens for books! I want to hug everyone in the writing/publishing/reading world who is making #ownvoices a priority. Books are often the answer.

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