Most discussions of racial differences with children involve more than direct conversations. Many parental opinions and biases are conveyed through indirect comments, facial expressions, and interactions. Children are very adept at picking up on non-verbal cues and innuendo. They also tend to mimic their parents actions and attitudes. Because of this, the discussion on racial differences commences with your child when he or she is born.
In order to be successful at putting racial differences in perspective for your child, you must first have a firm grip on where you stand on the issue. If your perception of the races is stuck in the nineteenth century, bring yourself up to date before you inflict ancient and outdated racial stereotypes on your children.
Racism takes many forms. Using slang names for the various races is a poor approach to model for children. Spewing a steady stream of demeaning racial jokes is another path to avoid. Expressing global distrust for anyone who does not have the same skin color as yourself will create doubts and distrust in a child.
Once you have mastered your own misguided racial points of view, you are ready to discuss racial differences with your child. The discussion should actually start with no discussion at all. Find ways for your children to interact with various races in casual ways.
Most problems between the races today stem from the lack of correct knowledge that they have about each other. The best way to correct this is to be exposed to all types of people and discover the fact that we have more similarities than differences. Children who are allowed to forge their own friendships will rarely, if ever, make a race an issue. Children make friendships based on mutual likes and dislikes and personality rather than skin tone.
When verbalized explanations are necessary or desired, a good approach is to point out that races each appeared in different parts of the world with adaptations to make them better suited for their environment at the time. Today, many of those needs no longer exist in modern society, but the traits still linger. Some have been muted as races have intermixed, and some have not.
In society, adaptation is more mental and emotional than physical. Explain that while we should not be hasty to judge others, most judgements today are better made on character, integrity, intellect, and drive. These traits are not the property of one race but of all people. For the most part, they are acquired and not inherited.