A couple of days ago, somebody shared a post about the Virginia mother who allowed her son to wear a KKK outfit for Halloween. I made a comment about raising another generation of racists and said "Bad parenting!" Someone apparently came along and asked, my husband reported, "And what are you raising? If anything."
I think I have written before about this notion that if you aren't a parent, you know nothing. I am going to come right out and say that anyone who believes that non-parents do not know anything about being a parent has a tiny, closed mind. I might also mention that the question is rude, and had I found the post to reply, I would have said "Nonayabiz, but I am raising hell, hopefully some awareness and if possible some consciousness."
I had parents. Both of them had good parenting skills, and bad parenting skills, and some really excellent parenting skills. They made mistakes, as all parents do. As a child, I had very different opinions about which skills were the good ones than I have as an adult! However, it's a full time job, along with their other jobs, and most of their mistakes were from being stretched for time or energy. Only a very few were from passing on bad skills they learned from their parents or social norms. Very fortunately for me, some of their biggest poorer skills were remedied by their friends, teachers of mine, my Momma Della, friends of mine, and therapy.
I babysat as a teen. I tutored kids. I taught college. My friends had children. I taught middle skill and high school. I was a Big Sister. I read parenting books when I was pregnant. The fact I miscarried does not mean I didn't learn anything from the books, I have watched friends go through divorce and the loss of a child through death. An observant person learns a lot in life. A reflective person with analytical skills can see things a parent often cannot or will not.
Here is the real hard truth some parents never learn: a child is not your possession to be shaped in every detail into a little you. Really good parents encourage the child to discover the who inside that God put on earth, even if it is not who you wanted your child to be in your idealized vision.
Here's the second hard truth. I mostly learned this from being a child, so listen up. The entire society has to live with your child. Your child will do better in life if it can adapt to other people he or she encounters while holding on to a sense of what is wanted from them by others, and a strong sense of identity.
This world is not a "whites only" world. For most of the US, it is not a whites only society. Your son has to make his way through the world as it is. If you bring him up to accept racism, he will have a harder time coping with the world and the people in it.
The mother defended her son's choice by saying it was "kind of a family tradition" and that she didn't see anything wrong with the KKK. She also said she had warned her son some people would say bad things about him. No, but I have some bad things to say about her. She needs to realize this world is increasingly going to be non-white. Trying to live in a world where white folks do not hold all the power, and he cannot fling his KKK traditions around willy-nilly with impunity. There will be social and economic repercussions for her son that will be harder to deal with than people saying bad things about him. There will be girls who will not date him. Jobs for which he will not qualify, others from which he will get himself fired. There will be homes in which he is not welcome, although he is a neighbor. There will be legal consequences, perhaps even jail.
A child's identity is not the color of his or her skin. It is the collection of passions, interests, inherent skills, talents and intelligence with which your child is born. A good parent does not instill beliefs into their child which will hinder the unfolding of a rich, productive life for that child. Instilling racism will lead the child to resentments, prejudicial blindnesses based on the color of someone else's skin, barriers that would not exist socially or professionally without that racism, and frustrations from learning that the rest of the world does agree with, hold, nor find acceptable that racism.
Unfortunately, it is probably too late for that little boy. A KKK costume is simply not acceptable in today's society. Had he come to my door on Halloween dressed that way, he would have gotten a lecture on the history of the KKK and no candy. I do not reward hatefulness.