Celebrating the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a great way to create change for good in our homes and communities. His insistence on nonviolence in the face of hatred and racial discrimination shows us that even the toughest fights can be fought without one flying fist.
“I have decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems...hate is too great a burden to bear,” Dr. King said at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in August 1967.
Even today, both in the mundane and in the monumental, we must make the conscious choice to decide to follow the path of love and peace.
As parents, our actions dictate the manner in which our children interact with others. In a world saturated with news of riots in the streets stemming from racial discrimination, our demeanor matters more than ever. After all, your home is your child’s first school and you are his or her first teacher.
In high school, where adolescents experience both physical and emotional maturity, it is just as important to address these issues. This is the day and age when the skewed images of perfection are dictated by social media. Bullying abounds behind the mask of a phone or computer as people lash out and insult each other with abandon, never fearing the consequences. At this formative stage, a young person can still be swayed to one side or the other. Will your children be the peacemakers or the fighters?
To be peacemakers, it starts with a plan to agree to resolve conflict intelligently. Conflict resolution is taught in many schools and organizations around the country, but you can also practice at home with your teenager.
Unpack ideas such as:
We are all entitled to be angry, but what we do with that anger can have significant consequences in our lives, whether they are good or bad.
Ask your teen’s school if they currently offer a conflict resolution program for students. If they do not, ask if they can offer one in the near future. Your opinion is very important in your child’s education and most schools are open to new ideas that affect positive change.
At home, encourage your child to stand up for him or herself and others to affect positive social change. It starts with your child’s world and can grow larger as his or her peers are affected. What change will your child make to honor Dr. King’s legacy?