Things I Tell My Kids, part 2

Parenting is about teaching. Teaching about life, teaching to ride a bike, teaching character, teaching math. Instead of coming up with new curriculum everyday, I rely on trusty phrases I can pull out easily. There is power in repeated words. Here are a few we use at our house:

Are you being kind?  Rather than exhorting our kids to be nice, we have always used the word kind. It’s a much richer word. One of my greatest hopes for my kids is that they turn out to be deeply kind. The word kind speaks of compassion, generosity, attention to others; it involves action. I want to call my children to all that kindness implies. Continue reading “Things I Tell My Kids, part 2”

Who is truly pro-life?

Recently, this cartoon showed up in my Facebook feed:

http://cdn.someecards.com/someecards/usercards/MjAxMi0yYjIzOThhMDI0NGYzYmY5.png

This is a popular axiom, this idea that the 44% of Americans who identify as pro-life care little about life after birth. So, let me ask: is it true that pro-life supporters are heartless prudes who are concerned only with fetuses but not with the lives of children in poverty, struggling single mothers, and other vulnerable members of society?

In my experience, this is far from true.

Let’s begin with the assumption — invariably held by those who post this type of cartoon — that government action is the only way to care for human life. Continue reading “Who is truly pro-life?”

Let’s talk about white privilege

The term white privilege seems to be popping up everywhere these days — online, in the media, and in college classrooms.  In the midst of all this talk, though, I have noticed that the term is frequently misunderstood, particularly by people who find it offensive.  Many, many times, I have heard rebuttals of the idea of white privilege that go something like this,

“Just because I am white does not mean I am wealthy. I came from a poor family, and I have worked hard to get where I am today. It makes me angry when people assume that all white people have money and that life has been easy for us.”

I understand how a white person raised in poverty or in the working class would be annoyed by assumptions that they were raised with money and that life has been easy for them.  Here’s the thing, though – that is not what white privilege means. Not at all. Continue reading “Let’s talk about white privilege”

Things I tell my kids, part 1

In my parenting, I have found it very helpful to have a few sayings that I can easily pull out. Nuggets that teach my kids about life, sayings that remind them of things our family holds true. There is power in a punchy and repeated phrase, and I try to wield that power strategically. Here are some of my favorites.

Hogwash!  I say this anytime my kids tell me something patently false that needs to be swiftly rebutted.  Things like I’m too tired to clean up.  Or We never do anything fun.  Or I’m not good at math.  Hogwash! I say.  Boom. End of discussion.  Some ideas just need to be rejected quickly and emphatically. Continue reading “Things I tell my kids, part 1”

Being racist in America

I’m sure you saw the news a few weeks ago of a bus full of University of Oklahoma fraternity students who were caught on video chanting the following about their fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon:

There will never be a n*** SAE!

You can hang ‘em from a tree, but they’ll never sign with me!

There will never be a n*** SAE!

The uproar was swift and the consequences thorough: the fraternity shut down, all members required to move out within 24 hours, and the two young men shown leading the chant promptly expelled from the university. One thing was clear from this episode: we no longer tolerate blatantly racist words in our country.  Much has changed since the 1960s and the preceding decades (centuries).

What is less clear to me is whether we, white Americans in particular, really understand all that racism actually is. Continue reading “Being racist in America”