How Parents Can Talk To Their Children About Police Violence, Trauma & Growing Up Black
I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been avoiding these tough conversations with my children. One is a 3-year-old, extremely inquisitive and aware. The other, 9-years-old, is an empath at heart. I recently linked up with Angela Adams Ali, PhD, a psychologist and clinical therapist based in Chicago who specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy, for a few pointers.
If you’re anything like me, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the constant bombardment of racially fueled headlines:
“Baltimore Police Shoot, Kill Woman Holding Boy”
“Minnesota Police Shoot Philando Castile During Traffic Stop”
“Police Killed More Than 100 Unarmed Black People in 2015”
“Louisiana Father of Five Alton Sterling Fatally Shot by Police”
While guarding my kids from news reports, I educate them that guns are very dangerous and never to be touched, as well as tailor my discussions to their developmental understanding to avoid creating anxiety and possible night terrors. Ali suggests that honesty is the best policy when discussing racially fueled topics with children, even if it “may hurt them.”
“Kids look to their parents to ensure they are safe. For example, if there is a lot of fighting or unrest in a household, that can actually traumatize the children. The same applies when it comes to events occurring outside the house,” Ali tells BlackDoctor.org.
So, how does one approach schooling our little ones on growing up Black in America? “While I can’t say don’t react [to recent shootings, police harassment, watching family getting dragged away in handcuffs] – this is an emotional time for everyone in Black America. Children need comfort. There has to be balance,” said Ali on practicing “calm” when discussing police inflicted trauma with our legacies.
Now, in the event a young child witnesses an event as heartbreaking as Castile’s killing or the recent killing of Korryn Gaines who was holding her son at the time, “professional therapy is a must,” continued Ali.