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Community, Parenting WELLNESS

How to Discuss Juneteenth With Your Children


As a licensed therapist, I’ve seen firsthand how acknowledging, understanding, and celebrating cultural milestones can significantly impact a child’s mental well-being. Juneteenth is one such milestone, providing a rich opportunity to foster resilience, empathy, and a sense of community. Yet, some parents struggle to talk about Juneteenth with their children for a number of reasons.

They may be worried about saying something wrong, that they lack enough knowledge to share, or they may be concerned that their child will respond to difficult topics surrounding the holiday with some level of fear, sadness, or anxiety.

To overcome these concerns, parents can educate themselves about Juneteenth, seek out supportive resources, and approach the conversation with openness and empathy. Which is why, today, I’m sharing five professional tips that can help you talk to your children about Juneteenth and the holiday’s importance to mental health:

1. Start with Age-Appropriate Conversations

Tailor your discussion to your child’s age and developmental level. For younger children, focus on the basics of Juneteenth as a celebration of freedom and equality. Older children can handle more complex discussions about history, resilience, and systemic oppression. By ensuring the conversation is understandable to your child, you can help them feel confident and engaged.

2. Connect History to Personal Stories

Share stories of historical figures and personal family anecdotes related to Juneteenth. Highlighting real-life examples of resilience can inspire children and make the history more relatable. Personal stories create emotional connections, helping children see the relevance of Juneteenth in their own lives and fostering a deeper understanding of perseverance and strength.

3. Emphasize Strength and Resilience

Focus on the themes of resilience and strength that Juneteenth embodies. Explain how African Americans fought for freedom and equality, showing incredible determination and courage. Relating these qualities to everyday challenges can help children develop their own resilience, boosting their confidence and mental fortitude.

4. Encourage Emotional Expression

Discuss the emotions that arise from learning about Juneteenth—both the painful aspects and the celebratory ones. Encourage your children to express their feelings, whether it’s sadness, anger, pride, or joy. Validating their emotions helps them process complex feelings and understand that it’s okay to feel deeply about significant historical events.

5. Promote Inclusivity and Community

Use Juneteenth as an opportunity to talk about inclusivity and the importance of supporting one another and others in your local community. Participate in community events, volunteer together, or simply engage in family discussions about equality and justice. Building a sense of community and belonging can enhance your child’s mental health by providing a supportive network and fostering a sense of purpose.

I’m hopeful that by working a few of these tips into your conversations about Juneteenth, you not only educate your children about an essential part of history but also help them build resilience and emotional intelligence that will support their mental well-being in the future. Together, we can celebrate Juneteenth while nurturing a more inclusive, empathetic, and mentally healthy future generation.

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