GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The section chief for adolescent and young adult medicine at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital says the first step in approaching difficult conversations surrounding racism and injustice with your kids is being open to the dialogue.
“You don’t have to go into this long lecture, take it as a teachable moment,” Dr. Lisa Lowery told News 8 on Friday. “What’s most important is to be open and say, you know, there is racism and there is inequality in this country.”
Her advice comes after peaceful protests and rioting played out across the country and in West Michigan recently in response to the death of George Floyd.
The calls for combating police brutality and racial inequity are echoing across the United States, which Lowery said serve as the appropriate time to address the topics with your kids.
“I think the hard part and what’s most uncomfortable, is a lot of parents don’t even know how to have that conversation or where to start that conversation,” Lowery explained. “I think the other thing is really focusing and allowing the space to have those uncomfortable conversations and for a lot of people, it might be the first time you’re having those conversations and so really allowing the kid, at any age, to have that space to be curious and ask those questions.”
In addition to allowing space for open dialogue, Lowery said it’s an opportunity to reflect on your own actions and how they may be influencing your child.
“It’s a great time for parents and families to be really reflective about the messaging and even your own, what messages are you sending your teenagers and young adults and even your little ones, more importantly? How do you react to certain situations?” she said. “Not necessarily a time to beat yourself up but really a time for all the families to be self-reflective.”
On Friday, The Kent Intermediate Superintendents’ Association shared resources helpful for parents looking for additional guidance.
- Talking to Children after Racial Incidents – Penn GSE Newsroom
- Tips for Parents on Media Coverage – National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- Helping Children Cope: Talking Tips for Talking About Tragedy – Mayo Clinic
- Talking to Children about Tragedies and Other News Events – American Academy of Pediatrics
“Students, families, and staff are wrestling with how to begin the healing process. Topics related to race, protest, civil unrest, and inclusion are often uncomfortable. Despite the discomfort, all of us must be willing to engage in honest dialogue regarding the inequities that persist in our society. Only then will we reverse the historic systems of injustice that have plagued this nation for far too long,” a statement from the Kent Intermediate Superintendent Association said in part.