Test Yourself for Racial Discrimination

Are you sending a racially biased message to your child?

As we’ve watched and listened to the disturbing media reports regarding the event that took place in Charleston, SC, recently, we’ve been asking ourselves, in what way were we responsible — as individuals, as parents, as a society?

First, we want to say that our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved in this heartbreaking, numbing act of senseless violence and misguided reasoning.

We hear parents asking, Why does this continue to happen?
We hear parents asking, What needs to change to keep this from ever happening again?
We hear parents asking, How can I make any difference for my child?

Change begins by taking responsibility for one’s own actions and beliefs. There must be the willingness to look within and ask the question, “Do my actions encourage or discourage racial discrimination?”

The Future - it's a global condition.

The Future – it’s a global condition.

As a parent, the question is, What example am I setting for my child?

Consider the following as a self test:

Pretend that you (“you” being a white person in this example) came home from the grocery store, and related the following story to your family. . . “I had the most wonderful conversation in the produce department about asparagus with a friendly and extremely knowledgeable black lady.”

By pointing out the lady’s color, are you racially discriminating?

We believe the answer is . . . yes!

What if, in your story, both you and the woman in the produce department had been white. Would you have referenced her color by stating that she was “a friendly and extremely knowledgeable white lady?” Probably not.

So why add the label “black”?  Describing her color, implying that she was an African American, wasn’t relevant to the story. Plus it sows the seeds for the need to not only notice, but to point out the differences in people. In this example the difference being skin color.

This innocent, yet blatantly discriminatory, word description takes place daily — probably even subconsciously — by people who see themselves as being racially unbiased.  Has it been instilled that people of color are less intelligent, thus your surprise — and need to point out — that the “extremely knowledgeable” woman was black? If we, as parents, as a society, want racial prejudice to come to an end, then labeling someone by their color of skin, when skin color isn’t relevant, must stop.

Think of it as setting an intentional example for our children, the next generation. Children look up to, and emulate, the adults around them, which comes from a strong desire to fit in, belong, and be a valued member of the community. At first, they just mimic actions and words waiting for a positive response. Eventually, the imitating turns into a habit and then a belief. Each generation will repeat the same pattern of beliefs, by default, unless that cycle is interrupted. Awareness is needed first, followed by new examples of appropriate behavior.

In order to initiate change, parents need to sharpen their attention to the words they choose, and what they mean (or what they’re not meaning) in the communication with their child. There are certain words we urge parents to completely remove from their vocabulary. If you don’t want your child to be afraid of the world (and help him or her feel more confident), then replace “Be careful!” with “Take care of yourself” when sending them out the door. In our produce department example above, we would remove any reference to a person’s skin color.

If you want to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem, then at the very least, for the next 31 days, be deliberate about not describing someone by the color of their skin. Intentionally begin paying more attention to the words you use.

It’s all about the relationship.

Please take the time to give us your comments and feedback.
Share how you are helping to put a stop to racial discrimination.
And of course, please share this with a relative or friend.

Being Self-Centered – it’s a good thing, right?

Okay, we’re going to throw you a bit of a curve here. The human traits of being self-centered – or selfish – are beneficial to the healthy, emotional development of your child. In order for anyone to be truly valuable to another, first they must take care of themselves.  When one puts their needs or desires last, after everyone else’s, their emotional and physical “gas tank” runs on empty.

You can drive it when I'm done.

You can drive it when I’m done.

We encourage you to teach your child how to take care of themselves, how to get their needs and desires met without it being at the expense of others.  Focusing on self first enables one to then be more effectively available to help others.

Think about it:  during your child’s first years he or she is the center of the universe.  All of his or her  giggling, grabbing a finger, smiling, burping, crawling, sleeping, eating, sitting up, uttering something that sounded like a word, splashing in the tub, and yes, even pooping – is significant and gains your enthralled attention.  “Look, he smiled at me!” “You’re such a big girl!” “He burped!” “Did you hear him burp?” “She’s so cute!” “I want to hold him!” “You are so special!” “She stood up!” “She stood up!” “She STOOD UP!” How could anyone resist wanting more of being the center of attention? It just feels so good.

And then one day, you decide that it’s not okay for your child to be “the center of the universe” any more. Maybe you overheard someone say that a child was selfish, and needed to go to “school” to be “socialized”. You worry that YOUR child is selfish, even though you’re certain how loving, kind and generous he is. And, he’s clearly determined to get his needs met (that’s great!). Whatever you do, don’t cave in and confuse him by suddenly switching directions on him. So now what?

What d'ya mean I have to share?

What d’ya mean I have to share?

Remember, you are your child’s guide, his or her teacher and mentor. It’s up to you to model behavior that will help them be successful in life. Teach them effective relationship skills. How does the saying go . . . with great power comes great responsibility.

Here are a few simple things to do to encourage healthy and responsible development for putting “one’s self” first:

Encourage her to be kind, but firm and respectful. When you see your child putting herself first, simply say, “I love the way you take care of yourself.” For example, another child wants the toy your child is currently paying with. You hear him saying in a friendly manner, “You can have my toy when I’m finished playing with it. I’ll bring it to you.”

When you see someone else taking care of themselves, point it out, “Wow, they really know how to take care of themselves.” If you see that your child is not getting the results she desires, when asking for what she wants, ask her how she is feeling about it, and what she might do differently. Talk to your child about how you take care of yourself, by putting certain needs or desires first, and why.

You can start by seeing being self-centered as a foundation to build upon, not as something undesired. In the long run, it will serve both you and your child well.

Do something for yourself today.

Ross & Kathleen

Did you like this? Was it meaningful? If so, please share your comments below, and also share the link.

Thriving . . . with money

Part Four of a Four-Part series on Thriving.

Do you feel you’re thriving when it comes to your financial position?
Are you passing along healthy money habits to your child?  How do you know?my photos029-1

I recall one specific incident with my then, five-year-old daughter, that stopped me in my tracks and made me take a hard look at my relationship with money, and the habits I was passing along to her. I had just arrived home from work and she was waiting for me on the front porch. Little did I know I was at the precipice of a major change in my belief about money.  No sooner had she said “Hi daddy!” and given me a hug, she announced, “I want to go out for pizza.”  Being a family of four recently shifting to one income, we were on a tight budget. So, what do you think I responded with? Correct, “Sweetheart, we just can’t afford it right now.” As I said the words I felt awful. As I look back, I definitely didn’t feel like I was thriving. Naturally she wasn’t satisfied with my response. Oh no, she made sure I knew that her friend got to go out for pizza, and it wasn’t fair if our family couldn’t go too.

When guiding your child toward a thriving financial future, does your advice sound something like . . . study hard, get good grades, and find a high paying job with benefits? Pretty standard stuff, but does it really encourage a healthy relationship with money? What if there was a different message, a different attitude, apart from scholastic achievement and finding a “good” job, that would encourage wealth generation? Would you be interested and intrigued?

I got some major help from Robert Kiyosaki.  In his book, Rich Dad Poor Dad – What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money – That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not, he presents some very interesting perspectives on how to teach your child about money. One in particular is that wealth generation does not depend on how much education one obtains. Formal education can actually be a burden in certain situations – keeping one trapped in a certain vocation or way of thinking about money.  Robert will challenge you to think differently by having you take a hard look at your learned beliefs around money.

Which of these two statements do you lean towards, “The love of money is the root of all evil,” or “The lack of money is the root of all evil?” Robert has his own opinion and will guide you in rethinking some of your money beliefs and how to share them with your child.

So, back to my story . . . in that moment of trying to explain why we couldn’t go out for pizza, and how life did feel unfair at times, I realized I had an opportunity to do it differently. I sat down with her on the porch, looked right at her and said, “I hear you. Pizza sounds good. So how can we create the money to go?” Her attitude, along with mine, immediately changed.  Why?  Because now there was hope.  Now we were thinking of possibilities.  We called a family meeting and began pulling resources together. There was some loose change, a few dollar bills younger sister wanted to contribute (she liked pizza, too), and a bunch of recycling in the cellar we could cash in.  Before we knew it, we had enough money to go out for a fun, family pizza night, and we did.

Together we had turned “can’t afford it” into creating a great time together. This doesn’t mean you always get exactly what you want, but the energy that comes from “possibility thinking’ is way more productive than the finality and discouragement of “can’t afford it.”

I encourage you to take the time to examine not only your beliefs around money, but other beliefs that seem to create friction between you and your child. Remember, a belief is just a thought that you keep thinking over and over.

And, if like me, you enjoy reading and learning about different perspectives, grab a copy of:

Money – Master the Game by Tony Robbins. If you have money invested in a 401K or other wealth generating instruments, read this book and pass it along to your child.

As always, I’d love for you to leave a comment below and share this post with a friend.

It’s all about the relationship . . .
. . . with yourself, your child, your family, your community,
and yes, even with your money.


It’s not too late to change it up!

I’m sure you’re a great parent. And you absolutely love your kid.

But have you noticed — especially as he gets older — that even with your awesomeness, and the incredible amount of love you have for him, that it can be super-challenging to maintain a close and respectful relationship when a conflict emerges between you?

Every attempt to control the situation — and your kid — ends in total frustration.

Y’know, very few of us have had any real training in relationship skills, especially for parenting.

When he was little, it seemed like parenting effectively was second-nature. Or at the very least, it was easier then than it is now.

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