How do we speak with children in our church?
How do we provide opportunities for the voices, the words, of our children to be heard in worship?
Our words matter to their faith development. And their words matter to our faith development!
Newest ‘Children’s Messages’ posts . . . (images link to posts)
Various factors can engender either a positive or a negative mindset in a young child regarding skin colour and associations with different colours of skin. Part of this process is a reflection of cultural language patterns. The English language has many more positive definitions for ‘white’ than for ‘black.’ Parents can offset this reality by offering positive images for dark colours and avoiding negative ones. In their book ‘The Black Child,’ Dr. Phyllis Harrison-Ross and Barbara Wyden give specific suggestions for parents of Black children, some of which apply to all parents. Following is a brief excerpt from their guidelines:
‘I like to see mothers pat a child’s cheek and say, ‘You’ve got a beautiful brown skin.’ I like to see a wife rub cheeks with her husband and say, ‘You’re as Black as an African King.’ Or a father tell his daughter, ‘You’re just about the same colour as Aretha Franklin…’
“Make you child colour-conscious. Explain how people come in a variety of colours. And how much people like colour. Talk about what colours he or she likes the most. ‘Would you like a red sweater or a blue sweater?’ ‘Do you want to wear your yellow socks this morning?’ Yellow’s a bright happy colour like the sunshine.’ …You child should come to understand that there are many shades of color in this world and that all of them have their place. ‘Oh, you don’t like brown? That’s strange. I always think of brown as the colour of the good earth that gives us our food and all the flowers we like. And I think of brown as the colour of chocolate milk, and I know you like that, don’t you?’
“And black? It’s easy to avoid talking about the colour black, but it’s not a good idea. Show your child the night sky and talk about how the stars shine in the velvety black sky, just like diamonds or pieces of glass. Or talk about the black ink that comes from the pen and the black print of books and how black has always carried messages to people, given them ways to learn and think. If you have a black telephone, there’s no reason why you can’t refer to it as ‘my Black friend who keeps me in touch with the world.’”
Another way to look specifically at the skin colour question for children is to be very intentional about describing differences in skin colour — all with positive associations:
Some people are black like ebony wood.
Some people are light brown like roast turkey.
Some people are pink like bubble gum.
Some people are brown like chocolate cake.
Some people are white like vanilla ice cream.
Some people are yellow like a ripe pear.
Some people are reddish brown like cinnamon rolls.
Some people are tan like peanut butter.
A children’s message posted on Worship Words, uses the above poem to illustrate Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness….’”
From an article by Kathleen McGinnis published in Parenting for Peace & Justice, circa 1989; an excerpt from the book Starting Out Right by McGinnis and Oehlbeg.
An alphabetical listing of all resources for Children’s Messages:
I have something in my bag.
(Take out the cross I carry in my purse.)
What’s this? [cross]
Do you see any others? [look around worship room]
What does a cross remind us of? [Jesus]
I carry this cross to help me remember Jesus, when I’m not in church.
Do you ever get angry?
At what or at whom? [Allow children time to respond.]
I get angry, too. And sometimes when I’m angry, I’m tempted to be mean.
So, I get out this cross and I just hold it to remember Jesus, and to remember to be thoughtful and loving, not cruel and mean.
I have something else in my bag…a cross for each of you.
Now you can keep your cross with you to remember Jesus, and to help you be the best person you can be.
Pray with me.
God, thank you for reminders to help us do the right thing. Amen.