Helping Your Teen Process Racial Injustice
The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others have shaken our world and lead to much unrest within our nation. Our own city, and particularly the black community, is giving voice to the systemic and personal injustice people of color face in our society.
During this time, two questions come to the mind as many of us consider our roles as parents or parental figures:
- How are our teenagers processing these tensions?
- How do we guide them during this time?
No matter your ethnicity or culture, these issues are difficult to work through. Here are three steps for leading your student to think in the way of Jesus.
1. Do Not Let Apathy Take Root
God calls us to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Before talking about protesting, rioting, or politics, talk about the tears and trials people of color face. As Christ-followers, we must care. We must be able to look at the pain of our neighbors, and especially our brothers and sisters in Christ, and respond with compassion as Christ would.
2. Process What Is Happening
It is easy, especially for those in the majority culture, to ignore the tension in our nation right now. But in order to grow, we need to talk about these issues when they arise. Having these conversations exposes our hearts and allows the gospel to do its work. Talking with your child about these issues will help you better understand where they are at, bring up issues you may have been unaware of, and protect your student from dangerous voices that social media exposes them to.
3. Facilitate Diverse Friendships
One of the biggest hindrances to discussions on race is proximity. We can’t love, listen, lament, or learn from people we are never around. Our students need friends that have different experiences and backgrounds. Why? Because if not, they may come to think their way of life is not just normal but superior. By fostering diverse friendships, empathy for others, and understanding of differences will grow.
This is not all we can do, but it is a start. My prayer is that, in helping students take these small steps, they will later be a part of moving the needle on racism in our country.
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The beauty of the gospel story is that we are not a bride with a father who has withheld a bridegroom to take care of us. He provided one. Jesus was given to us so that we know we will be taken care of. With his broken body and his blood, he met us at the alter vowing with his life to take care of us and love us forever. That’s the story of gospel. That’s your story.
In a world full of self-love and apathy, we don’t need less self-clarity, we need more. If you read this and see no need for self-clarity or self-awareness, then I might encourage you that you are the very person who needs this. I’d urge you to be curious about how you are being experienced by others, to find honest people to tell you how you are doing in loving others, and find tools that might help you on that journey.
It’s alarming how easy it is to forget what we were saved from and that it was not because of our own effort, but only by the grace of God. So subtly can we start to believe that our spiritual maturity simply happened or that we’ve gotten to where we are merely by our effort.
I believe there is an underlying narrative surrounding the value of women that threatens the influencing and flourishing of women in the local church. Beginning to grasp that reality was a painful and confusing process for me. Sometimes this narrative shows up in the most heartbreaking of ways in the local church—like in stories of the devaluing and abuse of women in the church. Sometimes the narrative is less extremely represented through the absence of women in ministry. And sometimes, like in my case, I didn’t think this narrative applied to me at all because of the good ministry situation I was in.