As parents we have a tough task on our hands. In the aftermath of yet another tragedy striking a black young man in this country, we have to help our children make sense of the concepts of justice, equity, forgiveness, healing, and the ever elusive “fairness”. To be honest, it’s a challenge that I live for as a parent, because I know that it’s on us to plant the right seeds. Seeds of critical consciousness. Seeds of faith. Seeds of hope. And building hope, a positive sense of identity and worth, begins with us as parents. Despite the messages from the media, outside world, and the value placed on life, we have to be the first teachers, teaching our children that they matter, why they matter, and what it means to value others as well.
This morning, after spending hours last night listening to the news and calibrating my own reactions ranging from rage to disappointment and finally, resolve, I went into my daughter’s bedroom and prayed with them to start the day. This is customary in our household, we pray together as a family frequently but today I lingered a bit. I wanted my daughters to be reminded (yet again) why they’re special. It’s not simply because I say so but because our faith tradition teaches us that each of us are born with God given value. I wanted to remind them (and myself) that they’re protected. I wanted to simply be thankful and model gratitude with my family. My daughters don’t necessarily understand everything that’s going on right now, but I know they’re taking note of our responses. That’s what children remember more than anything. What we do as parents outweighs anything we can tell them.
So today, for right now, I’ll focus on what I can control: my reaction and what it teaches my children about how to respond to injustice. We may not know what the future holds as parents, but in our household, we live by the creed that we know the one who holds the future.