< See all resources

Talk to your kids about race

Joel is the father of 4 multi-racial kids, and talks to us about the conversations he and his wife are having with their kids around race and identity.

Habits and Skills
Decorative icon
It’s a difficult, but important conversation to have, both as a minority and as an ally.

“My children are quiet processors. They are not talking; they’re processing things. My wife and I, we’ve been very intentional with getting them to engage in this dialogue. It’s been kind of tough. My children are bi-racial and that adds a layer. My oldest son’s skin color is a little lighter, like my wife; but my oldest daughter’s skin color is like mine.

My son, almost thirteen years old, is coming to an age when he’s really starting to see the racial breakdown. When he hears about the stories, he’s automatically connecting them to, “well, that can be my dad.” That’s tough.

It’s a difficult conversation to have with him, because there’s so much history that goes behind it, but our conversations have been pretty much, “you see all these things happening with police. Not every policeman is bad. You have a few out there that are doing these things, but you have to know that when you’re pulled over by the police, there are certain ways you need to behave.” That’s where we’re starting these conversations – how to conduct yourself when you’re not with Mom and Dad.”

“The young ones can’t really comprehend what’s going on. My 11 year-old daughter, Lily, is the sensitive one. She has a good heart. So, when we talk to her, we have to be a little easy. She breaks down because she can’t really comprehend all the evil that’s in the world.

My son has been told that he’s golden; he has golden skin. He gets this comment all the time, every time we go out. “Oh, your kids have great skin. Love their skin.” We know what he’s thinking – why do they keep mentioning my skin? We’re always letting him know, “You’re both – black and white – people love your coloring, but please know you’re black and white. You’re a combination of Mommy and Daddy’s love for one another.” And that’s how we couch it – black and white came together. It’s just right. Be proud of both sides. As they get older, they’re going to be forced to choose what side they are on. We’re prepared for that conversation. It’s going to be a tough one. We’re all about priming the pipe on that. Any time we see a multi-colored family on TV, we’ll ask questions, “Who’s this guy. Who’s this? Oh, they’re married? That’s super cool. That’s awesome. They look happy.” We want them to see images of themselves.

Here’s my one piece of wisdom: Any chance you have to educate – whether it’s through a TV commercial, news coverage, any little conversation – there’s never a bad time to educate kids on what’s going on.

– Joel in Houston, Texas