Important to teach that differences can be positive

Q: As much as I wish that racial tension would diminish in America, it seems like it just won’t go away. I’m concerned about the effect this has on my young children. What’s your advice?

Jim: Racism has been a stain on our country for generations. And unfortunately, it never will end unless parents take an active role in educating our children about how to treat others with respect.

I encourage you to engage your kids in conversations about different cultures. Talk to them about how other groups of people live their daily lives or how they celebrate holidays. Our children must learn that culture and tradition — not skin color — is what makes people act or talk a certain way.

Also, encourage your children to ask questions. Teach them how to have a healthy dialogue about people from different backgrounds. The more they understand the road someone else has walked, the less likely our kids will act judgmentally toward them.

Most important of all, model through your words and actions how to treat people with love and respect, no matter how dark or light the color of their skin may be. Some say that children are “color-blind,” but I don’t believe that’s true. Children easily notice differences, whether it’s between boys and girls, or between hairstyles, clothing or the color of skin. But they don’t generally interpret those differences as negative unless they’re taught to do so. So, conversely, we can and should teach our kids that differences can be positive.

One final thought: Don’t be too quick to punish your child that first time you’re shocked to hear inappropriate remarks. We don’t want to overreact. We just want to turn the problem in the right direction by teaching them the appropriate way to engage the issue of race.

Jim Daly is an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program.