An innocent, yet potentially offensive, racial comment came from my 7 year old’s mouth the other day. My first thought was to correct him, let him know that it could be hurtful, but I also knew whole heartedly his words had zero ill-intent. He was speaking about his friends after all, friends he loves and respects. So before bringing to light the differences he unknowingly was pointing out, I reached out to a friend and mama to biracial children. I love and respect her and knew that asking her opinion about my son’s comments would be met with honesty and compassion. She knows my son’s heart, and I looked to her to help guide the conversation in a positive light for my son.
You see, my family interacts with others from different backgrounds, races, and abilities. On purpose. I’m under no illusion that my kids don’t see the differences around them. I actually want them to see the differences, and love them fully because of them. I just never want my kids to make friends or decision based solely on those differences. My goal is to provide opportunities for them to see that everyone is different in some way, and that those differences make us special and unique.
This wasn’t the first time I have reached out to others, and asked hard questions. There have been times my kids have made comments about others’ differences and I have picked up the phone, and called a friend with those differences to bounce ideas off of them on how to teach my kids to be respectful of those differences in the future. I’m so thankful I’ve chosen to include people from all walks of life in my families lives so that we have these resources when the tough conversations come up. By including diversity in our family, I’ve created a safe place for us to learn and grow together. I choose to surround myself with people that are like me, and also people that are unlike me, because I love hearing their stories and I want my kids to hear them too.
I ask questions. Even when it’s hard and uncomfortable because I feel that is the only way to break the cycle of separation. I seek out others that can provide a different point of view. I ask questions because I honestly believe that when I ask out of genuine interest, and an appetite to learn and grow my understanding that those questions are welcomed and appreciated. Opening up the path to the tough conversations help connect people when we can see into the other’s thoughts and feelings.
I ask the tough questions and spark the tough conversations because I believe it’s worth it and that learning about each others’ differences bring us closer together.