The Help – starting the conversations with your children

I’m pretty sure I’m one of the last people on the planet to have read the book The Help.  I avoided the movie until I’d finished the book because the book is usually better in my opinion.  I’m not so sure in this case.

I loved the book.  Loved it: until the last chapter.  What a disappointing ending.  It reminded me of ‘personal writing’ in grade four when you couldn’t think of a way to finish so you just did the old: “…and then she woke up”.  If you haven’t read the book, I don’t know that I’d necessarily recommend it.  As I said, it kept me captivated right the way through, but the conclusion was just so dull it left a bit of a sour taste on my reading palette. But I digress…

What this book has done is open up the lines of communication with my eight year old daughter.  She came into the study last night while I was watching the movie and she asked what it was all about. I explained it as best I could, but she looked utterly confused. “What do you mean there were different toilets and libraries for people?” she asked.  Thankfully, she lives in a community where it is completely nonsensical to separate people based on the colour of their skin.  In her little bubble, we’re all created equal; and for that, I’m grateful.  In her class there are children of many different ethnic, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.  They are all on an equal playing field.  Perhaps that is partly because we live in such a small community, it may or may not be different in larger city schools, but I think as a whole society is changing.

My son wears nail polish, he pushes a pink pram around and loves to carry a handbag.  If my brothers had dared to do any of those things, my parents would have been mortified.  I’m not guessing this, I know it.  We live in different times.

Sadly though, the world is not perfect.  There are still people who look at my son in the supermarket with his fake Prada bag and his sparkly nail polish and scoff.  There are people who will judge others on their skin colour and their religion.  I can’t change everyone’s opinion.  I can’t right the wrongs of the past when people were automatically considered a sub-class because of the colour of their skin.  However, I can shape my children’s beliefs and morals.  I can teach them to treat everyone as equal despite any perceived differences and I can open their minds to the amazingly diverse world we live in.

I’ve started the conversation. That’s all I can do for now.


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