The other morning, as I stood in the bathroom brushing my teeth, Ethan very casually came in to talk. Knowing my son, I could sense that something was weighing on his mind and thus, I asked what he was thinking. With a serious look in his eye, the words “Mommy, is nigger a bad word?” came rolling off his tongue.
I always envisioned what the race conversation would be like as my children got older. We come from a prominently white community filled with rednecks. If people from another race move into our community, it does not go unnoticed. What I did not prepare myself for was having to have this very discussion with my six year old son.
For the first time in my parenting journey, I was speechless. In my mind, I was preparing a speech. My mouth, however, had a mind of it’s own. I explained to him that while others may use that word, we did not. How that no matter a person’s race, we do not discriminate and that all people are created equal. I then explained the reasoning people used such language and how cruel people can be. When I knew he was sort of lost in my explanation, I switched it up to something more simple: Judging someone based on the color of their skin is punishing them. There are good and bad people from each and every race. Do not punish all of them because one or two of them are bad. Content with my answer, he hugged me and walked away.
Having that conversation with my six year old son was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do to date. How do you explain such a sensitive topic with your child and explain that the world is still so full of hate? I know I cannot shelter them from the world, but I can teach them tolerance for all people.