With all of the events of the last 10 days, the uncomfortable, challenging, and often emotion-filled conversation about race has become part of our national conversation once again. Believing parents may feel caught between political convictions, personal discomfort, and what the Bible says or doesn’t say regarding the topic of race.
Fortunately, the Bible gives us a pattern for how to pass on faith to the next generation. And especially when we’re talking about these hot-button topics, this is a matter of discipleship. So I’ll take you back to the pattern God gave us all the way back to Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
Make It Personal- “These things shall be on your heart…”
The first key with anything you want to teach your kids is that you seek out the truth for yourself. Be a life-long learner, be willing to root out any false assumptions you might have in your own mind, and truly seek to understand what God would have your family be about. Study the Scriptures for the attitudes you should develop for yourself.
Take Advantage of Teachable Moments- “Talk of them when you sit, walk, lay down, rise up”
There are wasted moments all over the place that easily lend themselves to spiritual conversations. Car rides, grocery shopping, meal times, even on the couch watching TV can be leveraged to have intentional conversations with your kids. Think about your day- when are some moments you might start the conversation? Remember this: Most of our discussions are multiple session topics. You probably won’t deal completely with a conversation in one sitting. But the key is that we put down our devices, look each other in the eye, and have the conversation. The biggest hurdle in this whole process is asking the question- “Hey, what do you think about…?”
Live It Out- “Write them on your doorposts”
When you come to an understanding of what God wants for your family, structure your family life in such a way that when someone merely walks through the door, they can tell what you stand for. You will become a family that is known for loving God and loving people well. When you can say, “We are the (your family name here), and (family name here)’s are .”, then you ingrain love for God and people in the DNA of your family.
Race is a specifically difficult topic to tackle, mainly because of the emotion-driven responses you get from others. With your family, though, the most important step is to bring it up. Do your best to avoid the temptation to attack one group or another, specifically political persuasions. Here are a few guidelines about the race conversation:
- Always take the conversation to what Jesus would have us do. Always bring it back to Jesus. Always…Jesus.
- Don’t shut down your kids’ contribution. Ask questions about what they mean, and if you disagree, say something like, “Have you considered…?” This helps them develop good reasoning skills and keeps them from checking out of the conversation.
- Never assume you have it exactly right. In humility share your journey of understanding race. Allow your kids to form their own ideas and explore their own journey.
- Model good relationships with people of diverse backgrounds and skin colors. These relationships will teach your kids more than any single conversation ever could.
The most difficult and important step is to start the conversation. Don’t assume they don’t want to talk about it. They need your input in their lives! Be strong! Speak up! Start the conversation!