Teaching Children About Race: Parent Resource

This is a resource we created for Quest Kids and Family Ministry

“When I walked into the classroom, the kids were seated at their desks, eager to get started with the special presentation.  After the teacher introduced me, I handed a puzzle piece to each student in the class.  As I began my spiel about how diversity is like a puzzle, I noticed that the children in the back of the class were busily working on something rather than paying attention to me.  They chattered with excitement as they passed objects back and forth between them. 

 I asked what they were doing, and they announced, “We’re putting it together!” When I asked them why, they said, “It’s a puzzle.  The pieces are supposed to go together.   It doesn’t make any sense if we don’t put all our pieces together.”

Standing in the classroom, I realized that these children from different backgrounds were teaching me.  They didn’t need instruction about the importance of coming together, they instinctively knew that our individual pieces “don’t make sense” unless they come together with other pieces of different shapes, sizes and colors.  They understood that they were interdependent, and they eagerly collaborated with each other so they could see the bigger picture.  To do anything less just wouldn’t have made sense.”

pg 85, A Credible Witness, Brenda Salter McNeil

Moms & Dads, Caregivers and Grandparents: A Credible Witness is a great read, among many other book & resources suggestions here!

Ephesians 2:14

“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”

Galatians 3:26-28,

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

What is racism?

  • The practice of discrimination, prejudice, and intolerance of another race based on the belief that claims to find racial difference in character, intelligence, morality
  • The assertion of the superiority of one race over another.

Is it our goal to teach children to be colorblind?

  • Being colorblind means to not attach value to color.
  • It is confusing to tell our kids not to see our color differences.
  • The will see color.
  • We need to teach our children not to make value judgments about people based on their color.

How can we accomplish this with our children?

Be disciples to our children

  • Pray for God’s kingdom- it is multiethnic, multinational, and multilingual.  Our goal is to point children towards Christ’s kingdom.
  • Interact with anyone who is different.
  • Encourage our children to play with children from different races.

Be models of Reconciliation

  • Parents are to be aware of your own subtle disparities.
  • What you say and how you behave toward those of another race will shape your children.
  • Be models of reconciliation.

Get out of our comfort zone

  • Interact with people who are different.
  • Let your kids play with kids from different races.
  • Lead children to appreciate and learn from our differences.
  • Help children to value others.

Take Active Steps

  • Expose your children to different cultures.  Learn about their foods, festivals, costumes, language and games.
  • Encourage your child to invite someone racially different over to play.
  • Never make jokes about other races.
  • Reach out to people who are of a different race than you.
  • Extend an invitation to your home for a meal, or to church to worship together
  • Get to know other people’s stories.  Learn about who they are, where they are from, and what they love.

More active steps

  • Teach your child about his/her own ethnic heritage.
  • Help them to recognize their own diversities even within the race.
  • Affirm children’s ethnic heritage.
  • Encourage schools and church to teach racial reconciliation.
  • Find multiethnic media- public library and websites, etc.
  • If our parents or grandparents say a racist joke, have the courage to say, “I don’t believe that’s the best Christian approach.”
  • We can tell our children that Grandpa was wrong for telling ugly jokes: “I hope you’ll never make remarks like that.  Grandpa grew up in a time when many people were prejudiced against other races.  These are wrong attitudes.”

The most common misconception about racial identity?

  • People are afraid that racial reconciliation means sameness.  They think they have to give up who they are.
  • Christians think that because we do not harbor prejudice or act bitter, that people will just want to be with us.  We have to reach out to invite others into genuine, caring, and authentic relationships.  People will know if it isn’t real, so don’t force it!