As we celebrate Black History Month, we’re excited to share the voices of Moms who are shining a light on the path. From raising mindful kids, to the link between motherhood and entrepreneurship, to juggling safety and independence in a modern world.
Dr. Traci Baxley is a mother, speaker, and educator of 30 years who works as a cultural and race identity coach. Learn more about her work at socialjusticeparenting.com and @socialjusticeparenting on Facebook and Instagram.
Creating safe spaces at home where kindness can thrive
During Black History Month, I reflect on the evolving and necessary social changes in our country. The urge to do something, for many parents, has been present, but the HOW can get complex and overwhelming.
It may be helpful to start by grounding ourselves in more simple, concrete ideas that can substantially impact our children’s lives and their capacity to spread kindness. If we want to raise compassionate children who think of others, it starts with creating safe spaces in our homes.
What are safe spaces?
In this context, safe spaces are not limited to physical safety; instead include the psychological and emotional protection needed to foster a sense of belonging for our children. Homes should be sanctuaries where kids can be vulnerable with their fears and hurt while simultaneously feeling unconditionally accepted and loved. A safe space is essential for building trust and open dialogue and for children to grow up with the capacity to think of and stand up for others. In safe spaces, you:
- Remain open and actively listen. If children feel their words are critiqued continuously, they will eventually stop talking. Create a judge-free zone where children can feel safe being vulnerable and open.
- Discuss your feelings. You have to model what empathy and compassion look like for your children. When you talk about your feelings, you create a safe space where children can talk about their own fears, mistakes and joys.
- Make it a habit. Having designated times and days (and even a specific location) that children can unload what’s on their minds creates structure around your safe space. Having these opportunities to unpack their thoughts is integral to their emotional and mental health.
- Support but do not overprotect. Safe spaces do not overprotect—shielding children from the conflicts and inequities in the world. Instead, safe spaces lean into those hard things, giving children the words, tools and practices to deal with the big feelings that bubble up due to the unfairness in the world.
Safe spaces support kindness
We know how important it is to model the behaviors that we want to see. What if all children experience being a part of a space where principles like empathy, compassion, and generosity are the norm? The impact would lead to lifelong habits of kindness in the world. We must find ways to create homes where honesty, trust and empathy are the default.
Safe spaces introduce kindness in its purest form. It is the simplest way to shift fears into concrete and tangible actions that change lives positively and often permanently. Nurturing our children through kindness, humanity and community is needed now more than ever. We are our children’s safe spaces and through our actions, we teach them to be safe spaces for others.