Raising Kids When the World Shows Its Brokenness

Note: BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, or People of Color; it is an inclusive way of referring to non-white people.

Jo

Katie, do you feel like you are in a movie right now, too? My heart hurts. Did you see the meme that said, “Alright…which chapter in Revelation are we doing today?”

Katie

Oh, Jo! It feels so surreal. And sad and infuriating. And … I just don’t even know how else to describe the emotions!

Jo

I feel angry and out of control, but I know how I’m feeling is not nearly as hard as people who are BIPOC* after George Floyd’s murder. We were already on the edge with Coronavirus, and then this happened last week on the heels of Arbery and Cooper.

Katie

Racial injustice and police brutality aren’t new, but I think that is part of what makes it so terrible, right? The fact that this brokenness and evil has been here so long – and it’s still here.

Jo

So, my son N overheard me on the phone the other day. He immediately said, “Mommy, the police are supposed to help people, not kill people. He needs to go to jail.” So, now we are walking through this with him at six years old…he is the same age as George’s daughter.

Katie

Oh, their little hearts! Our kids do pick up on everything, don’t they? And, honestly, as hard as I know those conversations with N must be for you, I do think they are so important.

Jo

I feel like teaching about racial bias and overall acceptance of people who are different is my responsibility as a mom, and we try to be aware of our perspective as a white family (our white privilege). How has it been going for you all?

Katie

You know, my kids weren’t aware this time of anything happening in the news. But, I decided to bring it up at breakfast this morning. I wanted to be intentional with them.

Jo

Good for you.

Katie

Not going to lie, it felt awkward. And I wasn’t sure if I used the right words. But, I’m really glad we took the time to have a conversation.

Jo

This is one of those times to be messy and real rather than concerned with the “right way.”  Home should be safe to let it all out and ask anything.

Katie

I’m certainly never going to get it all perfect – and waiting until I am totally sure of what to do won’t help. I’ve had lots of conversations with my kids about race over the years. I’ve tried to make it something we talk about and don’t shy away from.

Jo

That’s awesome. For me, race and hate are almost harder to take on than the sex talk. But the conversations about race and other kinds of prejudice *could* be totally avoided for people with privilege.

Katie

True. As a biracial family, we have been forced to talk about race. I am thankful for that. My Asian-American husband has shared with me some of his own personal experiences with racial prejudice, which of course is different than the African-American experience. I’ve tried to listen and read over the past several years, to understand more about the daily experiences of people of color – and I want to be intentional to keep listening

Jo

Our loved ones need us to listen now more than ever. And, yes, for sure, white women like us and our friends need to put in the work here. We just cannot expect our BIPOC friends and loved ones to hold our hands through this journey either.

Katie

I know I am privileged to be white and raised in a middle-class, suburban neighborhood. To have access to quality education and health care. To not be afraid of being wrongly accused by neighbors or police. But I also know I still have more to learn about just how much I have benefited from white privilege and opportunity.

Jo

This was the first time I had to explain injustice to N, and I know my conversation went differently than my friends’ conversations went with their kids who are not white.

Katie

I think having those honest conversations is one of the ways we can empower our kids to make a difference.

Jo

I asked, “What would you do if you saw someone being hurt by a policeman?” He said he would call 911 on the police. It was so simple in his mind. Of course it was much more complicated for the witnesses on that day with George.

Katie

I like that you made the point to challenge N to stand up for what is right.

Jo

It’s not always easy. Right now, I know people have been too afraid of doing wrong that they have just been silent to stay polite and “non-controversial.” I just can’t do that at home or publicly. One of my friends said, “Compassion is not political; it is human.”

Katie

Agreed. I’ll admit it has been easier for me to talk to my kids about history and racism in the past than current issues.

Jo

Yes, it is more comfortable when the pain is not fresh. And now more than ever, evil is sneaky and taking on every color and form. None of this is easy. Maybe that’s why I have had a headache for two days?

Katie

And maybe why I keep replaying everything in my mind and wondering if I have done enough.

Jo

No joke. The past five days I have been in a frenzy of researching again and reflecting. Have you posted on social media?

Katie

To be honest, I have felt myself pulling away from social media and from all the articles. 

Jo

A lot of people have numbed out or turned it off. But think about it. If you are not white, you can’t. You live with it all the time.

Katie

I don’t want to ignore it or turn numb. I also don’t want to just post my outrage on social media and then forget about it next week. I want to respond in a way that is meaningful and that lasts. I think that’s why I’m trying to be intentional with my kids.

Jo

You’re so good at being intentional, not just with injustice but in all of your momming, Katie! Honestly, I have struggled with striving and performing in a lot of areas. The older I get, the more I feel comfortable with vulnerability. Having friends who challenge me helps the most.

Katie

Thank you, Jo. We need to challenge each other, and we all need help making change happen at our kitchen tables.

Jo

Yes! I keep thinking of this quote from Mother Teresa: “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” So what does love at home look like when the world is showing all its brokenness?

Katie

I think love includes having hard conversations with yourself, your spouse, and your kids as an informed mama.

Jo

Preach. Let’s get to work. 

Truth to Inhale

Soaking in the Truth

Scripture to encourage you:

  • “Help to carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.” – (Galatians 6:2, GNB)
  • “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27, NIV)
  • “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well . . . All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13-14,16, NIV)
  • “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, NIV)
  • “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8, NIV)
  • “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1, ESV)
  • “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV)
  • “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:11, NKJ) 
  • “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV) 
  • Jesus turning over the tables in the temple (Mark 11:15-17) 

Music to inspire you:

Readings and Resources to come alongside of you:

Truth to Exhale

Living Out the Truth 

Ideas to try right now:

  • Be honest, simple, and straightforward with your children about racism – even if it feels awkward or you aren’t sure how to start the conversation. During breakfast this morning, I (Katie) just read several of the verses listed above to my children. I asked them what they thought those verses meant, and they said things like “God made us” and “God wants us to love everyone.” I explained to them that I picked those verses today because there were lots of things in the news right now about people in our country being mistreated because of their skin color, because they are black. And people protesting in our city and many others. My seven year old was confused and surprised, “That’s really happening now? Didn’t that happen a long time ago?” I told him, yes, and unfortunately it still sometimes happens today. I reminded my kids of what they know about how God made everyone in His image and with purpose, how everyone is equal and valuable and beautiful because God made them, and how He wants us to treat everyone with love and respect. 
  • So, how I (Jo) handled the rest of the conversation with N about George and the policemen went like this. In response to the police, I said, “Just because someone has a title like policeman does not mean they automatically always do the right thing.” We talked about how those with hate in their hearts abuse other people (even those with important jobs like police, teachers, doctors, and other leaders), so you always have to watch how people treat everyone, not just you. 
  • Go out of your way to acknowledge the beauty and worthiness of people of all colors in front of your children. Sometimes parents may be embarrassed when their young children verbally comment on someone’s skin color. I don’t think we need to be embarrassed. Instead, let’s give our kids the vocabulary to talk about race and to show respect for people of all colors. The goal is not to raise children who are color blind, but who see and appreciate the diversity of all people.
  • We have friends who look different than us and have different backgrounds. Like, real friends. Not just people on a “friend list” or casual acquaintances. If you are always surrounded with people who look like you and share your world view, consider if that is really the healthiest way to live and raise your kids. How might you work to expand your horizons? 

Treasured Products we love: 

Going Deeper into Truth: 

  • Before you post something, ask yourself: Is this just trying to look good without doing anything of significance? Or is it an authentic means of showing support and raising awareness?
  • We all know how it feels to be judged and hated for reasons beyond our control, even if we have not experienced systems of oppression overtly. We can identify with the kind of pain the Black Lives Matter movement is trying to eradicate. Let’s reflect for a moment on the most recent three… Do you help your friends feel safe at work or in potentially racially dangerous spaces like running alone? If you were suddenly startled or frightened, would you react with grace? If we really know Jesus, we know that it is not right to hurt people who beg for mercy. We know it is not right to be complicit when we see bad things happen, even if those people have power over us. But, take a step back from what happened with Arbery, Cooper, and Floyd. On an everyday basis, when you hear people complain, even your own family members, or worse — they make a racially charged comment or joke — do you say something? What’s the worst thing that can happen if you do? If you don’t? 
  • Where do you see your weaknesses? What from this blog has rubbed you wrong?  Have you ever prayed to God about your biases? Have you honestly asked His perspective?  Have you considered that Jesus was in fact a black man? His beliefs made people so incredibly uncomfortable. When was the last time you pushed the envelope like he did, full of grace and truth?

What else do you do that we can start doing, too?  What are some other resources you can share with our TtT Community?  Comment below or send us a DM. Let’s help each other. 

{These suggestions are ideas from novice moms. Sometimes our life situations need more.  In that case, seeking out professional help is the right call.}

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