Back in our normal world (which will probably never be that normal again), one of the needs of teens was to have their questions heard. Maybe answered too. Some questions don’t have answers but just being heard can be an answer enough.
This need is still important–as we are living with more questions than ever. With probably less answers than ever.
With all that 2020 is there are so many conversations to be had. Conversations teens are already having in all of their social media spaces. Conversations that your teens desperately need to be having with you. I believe they also want to have the conversations with you.
Especially this one about race.
When we deal with issues of race, class, and culture, we feel four emotions: grief, anger, fear, and shame. We don’t deal with any of these emotions in healthy ways when things are normal. Things are not normal right now.
The work of reconciliation too often happens at points of crisis when we aren’t equipped emotionally. (Can I get an amen?!) It is no wonder we are all so uncomfortable.
Grief, anger, fear, and shame are all topics we talk about often at Bravester. Because these are the things that keep our worlds small. Because they are at the root of us not choosing the brave decision. Because grief, anger, fear, and shame are so uncomfortable.
When it comes to race, we too easily have believed that to talk about race is racist therefore that conversation should be avoided. When our teens need to be talking about it. When our teens are talking about it in social media spaces. When they could really benefit from your wisdom. When your influence over them is still very important. Certainly more important than the social media voices.
This is what a dad I know did with his son.
Took my 17-year old son downtown Indianapolis today to show him the boarded up windows and destruction the city withheld during the riots.
It was sad and disturbing, caused sadness and anger against those who did this.
Then I took him to Monument Circle where the real demonstrators were.
We walked up to the rally and listened as people spoke and watched as the protesters were getting energized and (we were) reminded (of) the importance of their peaceful actions.
This was an amazing situation to show my son that black lives matter, to show him what it is like to walk up to a total stranger regardless of color and talk to them about anything.
We met some incredible people and their agenda for resolutions are pretty interesting.
As we were standing there, a white male on a Harley long grey beard black shirt with a confederate flag shirt on, began yelling white power and F you N******.
He was around a block away, clearly heard, and people began getting upset. The rally coordinators told everyone to settle down and this is not the answer.
I began walking down to discuss his ridiculous decision to sound ignorant, and as myself and a couple other gentlemen approached he took off on his motorcycle. There was no need for that and it just fuels negativity and hate.
We returned to the rally, listened a little while longer, discussed many things including law enforcement and how not every officer is like the four in Minnesota.
My son had a great opportunity with the BLM movement local leaders, but (it) didn’t stop there. We spoke with IMPD bike unit officers and asked their take on the matter and their responses were amazing.
Lastly, we stopped two black women so I could show my son more viewpoints from real life individuals and not those on the media that sometimes were hostile.
These two women were such beautiful souls and were so gracious…we all hugged and went on our ways.
Today my son didn’t see hatred, anger, violence, or anything that many people talk about, he didn’t see the things often shared on media… what he saw today were amazing humans standing up for their beliefs in a peaceful manner that hopefully will continue to change the world and skin color didn’t matter.
To quote my son, “This was a great day, the best I have had all year.”
Look what one day of intentionality in an uncomfortable situation did for a son.
Dare I say, such a day as this can change our world?
Parents, you matter so much in this conversation to change this world.
I’ve been using this video series to have these conversations with the teens in my church. Sometimes, and our best times, are when we’ve done this intergenerationally. I pass this on as a suggestion for you too.
The series is called “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.” There are moments of uncomfortableness while viewing. Lean into those moments gifted to you through video to help you have these conversations. Your teen will never forget these conversations. Will also never forget your vulnerability as the two of you learn from each other, find some answers, and are a part of changing this sin that needs to be healed.
Because you know also that these are the conversations that will change this sin.
Be inspired. Embrace the vulnerability. Be brave. Be unoffendable. The world needs you. Your teen will be so grateful.