Still, the initial decision to talk about race (and police brutality) in America last summer didn’t come easy. Mauna said she and her husband spent many sleepless nights mulling just how much the kids needed to know about what was happening.
“These talks are never one and done,” Duan said. “With the Atlanta shootings, I honestly can’t remember if my daughter brought it up or she just happened to be in the room when I spoke to my husband about it.” (Duan said she and her husband have generally been “uncensored” when talking about these recent attacks.)
“That doesn’t mean we need to obtain our master’s degree in critical race theory, or to be the perfect ally or anti-racist person,” she explained. “It just means we need to gain some competence in sitting with discomfort knowing we have privilege and grappling with our own racial identities.”
If you’re not sure where to start, below is advice from therapists like Zhuang-Estrin and Asian American parents about how they’ve learned to broach this difficult topic. Much of the advice is tailored and told from the perspective of Asian American parents, but there are relevant lessons here for all parents.
For elementary-aged kids, 10-20 minutes may be more than enough time to give them a little context and understanding about racism, as well as answer any questions they may have, said Therese Mascardo, psychologist of Filipino descent who works within the Asian American community.
In the viral video, Park shows her children, ages 7 and 5, the words “Stop,” “Asian” and “Hate.” She then asks the kids about their feelings and walks them through some ways they can raise awareness and address racism in their own community.
“I think we need to normalize not needing to watch videos of brutality and violence to acknowledge the horror and wrongness of an action,” Duan said. “If your children are Asian, watching the videos can make them more afraid. It can also inure and desensitize kids to violence against people ― Asian or otherwise.”
If your kids are Asian, you don’t want to send them off into the world with a bunch of scary information they don’t know what to do with. Make sure they feel a sense of agency after your talk.
Help kids understand the context of this moment. Because some of the suspects in these attacks have also been people of color, Guan worries that the coverage her kids see in the news or on social media might reframe what’s going on as a Black versus Asian issue.
“As a family, interrogate yourselves on why and how these narratives play together to aid white supremacy and further divide people of color,” she said. “You have to teach your kids how to examine what stories are not being told and why.”
“Ask them how they’re feeling and give them permission to express difficult emotions. Other questions to ask: ‘Have you ever seen something like this happen before?’ ‘How would you feel if someone treated you this way?’
This content was originally published here.