Talking about race can be tricky at any age. But it’s especially difficult to talk to children about race, as it’s sometimes necessary to do. In this excerpt from our monthly Substack subscriber-only Q&A session, John and I field a question from a reader who is worried about how her five-year-old son is thinking and talking about race. If you want to watch the whole Q&A episode, and if you want the opportunity to ask a question yourself, click below to become a subscriber.
In Glenn’s reading of the letter, the statement that reverberates loudest, as a father to a three year old, is that the child didn’t want to talk about it. My daughter, and most young children in my experience, is/are incredibly adept to moral judgement from others, be it in tone of voice, volume, gesture, facial expression, whatever. She will self-censor instinctively to avoid feeling shame. For me, in these situations, any hammer to nail approach not only goes unheard, but gives my daughter pause in sharing anything she anticipates causing tension. We have our most open and interesting, trusting and free thinking, conversations when I mostly shut up, ask questions without showing my moral hand, and let the conversation die if she so chooses. It inevitably comes back up later on.
We could just not say anything and let them catch a couple of beatings and make up their own minds.