If you expected 2020 to be a good year only to have it kicking your butt for no good reason, you’re not alone. Not only did a pandemic strike, but fireworks followed regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. The world found themselves face to face with having to address racism and wounds dating back to 1619.
You might be thinking I don’t even know what happened in 1619 and why this is a big deal. Well, the time is ripe to learn more because every time you think things are about to settle down, something else pops up and it’s usually another atrocity.
Right now, you are even more tired than you usually are as a parent with the turmoil in the world. Perhaps you’re stalled wondering what in the world you should do and unsure of how you would even broach the inclusion topic with your children.
Don’t let that stop you.
This is not a situation that’s going to evaporate. Current news tells us that there are multiple challenges around diversity and inclusion that impact the entire world and that you best get on board with your stance and actions to back it up.
Here are three ideas to get started on this inclusion journey with your children.
Give Yourself Grace
No doubt about it, there’s a fire hose of information available about the lack of inclusion in our society. It’s emotionally heavy and we are coming face-to-face with behaviors that can no longer be tolerated. The very things you’ve been taught as a child are being challenged. Your position is being scrutinized.
Be assured that you aren’t expected to be an Inclusion Encyclopedia Brittanica. You’re not meant to be Dr. Inclusion. That’s not your role.
Your role is to ensure that you’re raising humans who can be kind and inclusive. A capability that’s necessary for the new normal. You are a role model for your children and as such, they will be looking to see how you handle current challenges in the world. How are you making your voice heard? And what steps are you taking to show your children where you stand?
Do not be deterred by the weight of what’s ahead. Buckle up instead and commit to getting educated and taking action to create a more inclusive world. You’re going to have to give yourself grace for the mistakes that you’ll make. The key is to continue to try and you will see progress with time.
Fuel Up to Teach
Your children will be looking to you for answers. In the temporary absence of educators, you’re the most viable teacher they can leverage. And by the way, teachers are also having to educate themselves on changes that need to happen to curriculums and teaching styles. So, you’re not alone on this journey.
If you don’t have the answers, do some pre-work on educating yourself on the current inclusion challenges. For example, if you are not well versed in what’s happening with regards to racial injustice, start doing your research. Whether it’s television, social media, library, or Google, start gathering speaking points to educate yourself. Names like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Christian Cooper, Elijah McClain are a good place to begin researching.
As you consider sharing information with your children, be mindful to meet your children with information they are able to digest. Some inclusion topics you can speak to your children about are gender equality, same-sex families, and more. Some of these conversations may be uncomfortable but necessary. If you don’t have these conversations, your child will get their education somewhere else, which could impact your relationship as they get older.
If you’re not sure how to have these conversations with your kids, here are the first steps:
- Start educating yourself so you can field questions from your children. Read current books on inclusion and check out Eventbrite for upcoming inclusion webinars in your area that you can virtually attend.
- Leverage Teaching Tolerance (www.tolerance.org) as a resource to build up your inclusion conversation skills. Although the content is primarily geared towards educators, I suggest looking under Teaching Strategies (under Classroom Resources) to pick up some strategies you can use for impactful conversations with your children.
- Be vulnerable. If you must, check out some Tedx Talks (cue Brene Brown) on how to embrace vulnerability as a strategy. I say all this to say that inevitably you will bumble, stumble, and fall, but you must continue to try. You and your children will benefit from this experience.
Make Your Actions Speak
Now is the time to reflect on your surroundings and community. Are your children exposed to diversity? What level of diversity do they get at school? Where do you go on vacation? Where do you eat your meals? How are you promoting the need for cultural awareness with self-distancing restrictions in place?
Perhaps the most important questions of all, what message of exclusion or inclusion are your parenting decisions sending?
Think through your answers to these questions and make a decision on how you will boldly model more inclusion for your children. There is much that can be done to foster inclusion in families. The key is to be intentional in being inclusive.
Take the time to broaden the cultural exposure your family has. Expose them to different food choices and make it a learning experience. Create a diverse library of books and magazines at home. Have conversations with teachers about the curriculum. Change up your movie choices. Take a look at what Netflix is offering in diverse categories. Not only will you be setting your children up for future success, but you will also be contributing to the greater good in the world. Let your actions speak loudly.
Be sure to leverage the Inclusion School Podcast as a resource for inclusion conversations. This podcast is about providing resources for parents, educators, and caregivers looking for support for impactful conversations with their children.