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?