As a culture we're finally starting to recognize and talk honestly about privilege. We're finally speaking out about socio-economic disadvantages based on race, gender, ability, sexuality or identity, and how those of us who have privilege need to be ethical and aware of the challenges we face as a nation. So, it's absolutely vital that we encourage the future generation to think about these issues critically. Thankfully, there are ways you can explain privilege to your kids in age appropriate ways that encourage empathy and self-worth.
Our children are growing up in a rich and textured environment, which means they're exposed to a more diverse media. They've seen a Black president, they may see a female president, and they might have been exposed to celebrities and personalities that represent different groups — like the LGBTQ and transgender communities — that (probably) the majority of us were not aware of or exposed to when we were children. While our society is continuing to evolve and change in a way that better reflects all of us, change and evolution can sometimes (read: usually always) happen slowly. As parents, it's our job to help describe and explain privilege to our kids so they recognize the ways in which they benefit from certain social norms, and the ways in which they are disadvantaged. This knowledge will equip them to continue the conversation as they grow, to speak out when they see injustice and fight to change the status quo.
Some people are reluctant to consider themselves privileged, as though it somehow negates their hard work and effort if they admit that someone else is denied the same opportunities for spurious reasons. However, only when we — as individuals and as social groups — truthfully recognize the problems we have in our society and the way some of us benefit from them, that we can hope our children might one day see a world where we all have access to the same opportunitiesand are respected equally. So, with that in mind, here are just a few ways you can explain privilege to your child and help make the world a better, more inclusive and fair place.