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On Their Terms: SJ Convos with Kids

"How do we reconcile our hope to raise children who are empathetic, respectful, and resilient with the reality of a culture that promotes hierarchies, binaries, and abuse? While we must actively work to change the world around us and dismantle the systems that uphold oppression, the revolution starts at home: we need to create an environment that rejects oppressive norms and teaches us a new way of relating to each other." --Leila Raven, Parenting for Social Justice: Tips, Tools, and Inspiration for Conversations and Action with Kids (pre-order the book!)

I've been thinking a lot these days about how I relate to my kid and how our interactions do and don't sync with my commitment to listening better and collaborating more. I notice that as F gets older, he's less interested in following my lead anyway, including when it comes to reading together the latest book Mom has selected/brought home from the library and talking about it after.

For a while I felt frustrated/worried I was losing my kid's ear for conversations about real history and the need for social change. But I've been helped by a growing understanding of what Leila gets at above--stuff I'm reading about challenging hierarchies and parent-set "agendas" within my own family. How foundational that is to meaningful social change.

Yesterday I was reminded of something I first noticed a while back but had sort of lost sight of: the best time to connect in inquisitive, in-depth conversation with my kid is first thing in the morning. (I tend to be a late riser myself.) This window of the day is when he seems the most attentive/compelled to raise thoughts/questions about stuff on his mind--and admittedly thankfully, that stuff isn't *always* outer-space related (all best, Kuiper belt).

I'd gotten up and was hanging earlier than usual with F--and it was an hour of spirited back-and-forth on everything from the Oort Cloud to "why white dudes on all the money." At one point kiddo brought up a scene from Hidden Figures, which we'd watched as a family the night before--the one where Kevin Costner's character tears down a whites-only bathroom sign. This led us to talk a bit more about the nuance (white saviorism) my husband and I had referenced while watching the movie.

It feels good to let my kid bring the conversations. On a practical level, it's just more effective. And it feels respectful of him and where he's at. It's collaborative and connecting. I want to do more of it. What goodness are the kids in your lives teaching you these days?

--Kristen, white mom to a white son in Northampton, MA

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