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Father lovingly embracing his daughter.

Setting Parenting Intentions for 2021: Addressing Race

A couple of months ago, I attended a webinar about meta-parenting. It was a concept that was new to me and can be defined as parents thinking about their parenting before or after an interaction with their child. The more I listened to the presenter, the more I could identify how I implemented this in my life. Whether it was planning how I would navigate getting all three children (infant, toddler, and preschooler) in and out of the car in a timely fashion or thinking about how I would handle a meltdown, I saw the connection. These are forms of meta-parenting that I’m sure most of us have experienced at one point or another. What I had not prepared for was meta-parenting around race.

As a Black parent, I had not fully considered what it meant to parent a Black child. I certainly did not consider that my children would have early encounters of racial awareness, rejection, and other issues that may occur. This was highly naïve of me, as I looked at my children’s childhood through my own experiences and community buffer zones. One of the first aspects of meta-parenting is anticipation. This was my blind side, and while not all discussions around race were maliciously intent from others, there were times that I felt caught off guard, tension, or a lack of preparation that left me feeling ill equipped to parent well on this topic. Therefore, as I move into the new year, I commit to greater intentionality on preparing my family for these encounters. I have begun to ask: How will we address my children’s friends who have a greater awareness that our skin is brown and are processing this awareness in front of them? How do we handle rejection due to the color of our skin on an internal (family system) and external level (system/community)? How will I develop a strong sense of self and belonging in my children and provide protective boundaries? As my children develop, who can offer me parenting wisdom because they have similar background and experiences but are further along in parenting?

There is a communal piece that we all share, which is our connection to identifying ourselves and the people around us, and how we connect as a society. It is this fact that we can all choose to be intentional around the topic of race, so that we are not thrown off in the moment. When we have rehearsed several different scenarios in which we may experience racial tension with our children, we are more equipped to support them emotionally and socially.

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About Jeane N. Liburd, MA, CCLS

About Jeane N. Liburd, MA, CCLS Jeané Liburd has worked in the field of child Iife since 2005. She earned a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and is trained in play therapy. She currently serves as an adjunct instructor for Liberty University. Throughout her career, she has provided services for children and families in various settings including hospitals, pediatric hospice, and community programs. The focus of her work is supporting children and families who have experienced illness, grief, and loss.