How to Explain Race to Kids

Last Friday, myself, my Fiance, and my Best Friend/Roommate watch our friends’ two kids, ages 6 and 2, while they went out. A perfectly normal night of McNuggets and Pokemon.

Eventually it came time to get them to settle down for bed. I explained to the kids that they had one more episode of Pokemon before they would be going to lie down in Roommate’s bed.

Six-year-old responded, “We’re going to sleep in Roommate’s room?” “Yes, you are.” Six-year-old further asked, “Where do You and Fiance sleep?” I pointed to the other bedroom door. “That’s our room.” Six-year-old pointed back at Roommate’s door, “That’s Roommate’s room?” “Yep.” “You all live here together? The whole family?” “Yep.”

Now here’s the kicker:

Six-year-old replies, “but you have different faces.”

Myself, Fiance, and Roommate are all different races and ethnicities. I’m white, Fiance is Hispanic, and Roommate is black. That is no doubt what Six-year-old meant by “different faces.”

So I say to Six-year-old, “Sometimes families look different, but they’re still a family.”

Six-year-old nods, contemplates for all of a second, then goes back to watching Pokemon.

Race is not “too difficult of a concept” for children. Children have the most open minds and the most malleable brains. They can take concepts that adults struggle with their entire lives, and simplify it. If you don’t want to discuss race with your children because “they won’t get it,” they will. If anything should stop you from having the conversation, it’s your own understanding, or lack thereof.

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