How to Talk to Your Kids About BLM
Does it feel like the sky is falling? Fires in Australia, murder hornets, Covid 19, and now civil unrest on our nations' streets.
Because of the CV quarantine, most of our college children are living at home, wondering if they'll be returning to school in the fall. They've endured weeks of distant learning, social isolation, and disappointments as summer internships and work opportunities disappeared. As Praying College Moms, we've helped them adjust and shoulder their burdens. Yet, this current crisis--the widespread surge of protests and riots in the name of Black Lives Matter--has left some of us worried, confused and wondering how to talk to our kids about it all. We ourselves have to grapple with this complex and emotional issue and don't necessarily have all of the answers...
Have you or your kids posted expressions of solidarity for Black Lives Matter like the one above on social media? Are your kids attending protests? Distributing flyers? Sixty-two percent of college-educated young adults who agree with rioting and looting in our cities as a result of George Floyd's death. Are they feeling guilty about privilege? Or feeling persecuted by racism?
Are the thousands taking to our city streets protestors or rioters? Should the police be defunded? Should we kneel or stand before an American flag? Is our country racist?
With emotions running high, now is the time to engage in a family dialog about racism. After all, the family is the building block of society and the best place to work toward positive societal change is within our own homes. In yesterday's Mass readings Saint Paul, himself, said, "I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, ... convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching." (2 Timothy 4) Since they're home we have a unique opportunity to listen to our kids as they question what they're seeing/hearing, formulate their opinions and make informed decisions on whether or not to act. Hopefully, we'll learn along side each other as a result.
Praying College Moms open this conversation, first, with a sincere desire to listen. We might ask, "How does all of this make you feel?" or "What do you think of it?" As our child begins to share, we reflect back what we're hearing them say, and ask for clarity if we misunderstand. We don't interrupt, argue, try to solve, or (God forbid) judge them. We listen until they're not talking anymore. Saint Paul encourages us: "But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry." It can require a lot of self-possession to listen empathically whether you agree or disagree with your child. It's a beautiful act of loving respect.
In this conversation, we're seeking mutual understanding, a sharing of emotions and feelings, and an effort to sort out the truth from hyperbole or lies. The barrage of media coverage has forced us to sift through overwhelming number of polarizing, divisive reports in search of the truth. Saint Paul says, "For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths." As Catholic's we're called to pray about and consider these issues in light of what our faith teaches. We can rely on an age-old paradigm--The Ten Commandments. For example,
The murder of George Floyd is a violation of the 5th Commandment- Thou shall not kill.
Racism is also against the 5th Commandment because racists/bigots injure others by words or actions.
Looting is against the 7th Commandment - Thou shall not steal.
Conversely, it can be an act of sacrificial love to peacefully protest in solidarity. We're imitating Christ when we want to better understand and empathize with those feeling persecuted. A truly grateful heart is a humble one and from the perspective of gratitude for the gifts God's given us and empowered by His love for us and our neighbor, we can best grieve with, sympathize and support others in our community who are affected during this crisis. When we acknowledge that God is the giver of every good thing, we can cast out misplaced guilt and apply our full energy and attention to eradicating social injustice as we encounter it.
Buoyed by the Holy Spirit, praying college moms can be confident that our efforts to connect on this topic with our adult children will bear fruit. "Self possessed,"empathetic, and loving, we continue to be "poured out like a libation," counting on the "Lord, the just judge" to guide us and our children during these unprecedented times.