Regina Culver has had many tough conversations with kids. She’s the mother of three and the director of early learning at Lubbock’s YWCA.
The coronavirus pandemic and systemic racism have dominated all conversations lately. That trickles down to kids.
“They’re so into technology now," Culver said. "They watch a lot of TV, they see a lot of things that’s going on. They hear a lot about what’s going on.”
But little ones don’t always understand what they’re hearing. Culver gave an example. A kid arguing with someone recently said, “At least I’m not playing with a Black kid.” She doesn’t think the child understood what he was saying. His best buddy is Black. But it was shocking.
“I just don’t really know that kids now are really getting the full gist of really, really what’s going on,” Culver said.
They talked with him about race and being friends with everybody. Culver said discussing and celebrating differences is key.
“They may be just as smart as you are. You may find that you like some of the same things that they like or that your interest could be the same that their interest is," Culver said. "We talk a lot about that.”
Teachers in the YWCA programs are having what Culver calls courageous conversations with kids of all ages. They circle up and talk in an open way about what they’re seeing, hearing and feeling. She thinks it’s made COVID-19, in particular, more understandable.
Through parenting her own three boys, Culver said she learned that it’s better to have proactive than reactive conversations.
“I learned along the way that I really should just have a time and, you know, just realized that I should just have this conversation," she said. "I shouldn’t just wait until he brings it up.”
That should start early. If kids know they can come to a parent, or another trusted adult, when they're young, they’re more likely to speak up when they’re older.
“The advice that I would give is to always be open," the mom and educator said. "Always be willing to have that conversation.”