[From time to time, we receive questions from LIE readers facing a complicated situation involving race and parenting, and we like to turn them over to the rest of our readers for their thoughts, suggestions, and perspectives. This comment was posted to an older thread a few days ago and didn't garner much of a response, so I am reposting it, front and center, here.]
I have been searching the internet for hours for advice. My son (age 9) called a boy at the playground the N word today. Out of anger. We live in a biracial home. My son is extremely aware, or at least i thought he was, of how NOT OK it is to use this word in any context. I don’t know the best or most effective way to talk to him about it. I need these words to sink in. Mostly, because it is very important to me that he never do this again. I have never used the word, not even in a joking or referring context, and I do not believe that he has any business using it either. Secondly, because his other mother is black, and his sister is biracial, and I don’t want them to have to hear it. Thirdly, because I would rather him not get the bejeezus kicked out of him for saying it when we were not there to intervene. Lastly, because it is just plain embarrassing as a parent to have to apologize for your child saying something like that. People instantly assume that the things kids say they get from their parents.
It is such a difficult situation. I know that he hears the word all the time. His school is majority African-American, and I know the word gets thrown around all the time. The kids at the playground tonight could have been saying it. I think that if he has said it in e playful or brotherly way, I would be slightly less upset (he wouldn’t have gotten completely off the hook, still), but he said it in a hateful way.
I just need to know what to say, or how to say words that are going to sink in.
He is already full of regret and remorse for what he has said. But I worry that he is really regretting our trip to the park being abruptly cut short and his little buns being sent to bed early, or if he truly feels bad for what he said.
AH! parenting can be so hard!