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April 17, 2008

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Tracy W

"The freedom to say what you feel and think, instead of what you should."

So if what your child feels and thinks is racist, they should be saying that?

Robin

Thank you for your question. Virginia Satir is the author of the quote. She was a reknown and highly respected family therapist. Here's my take on it: emotionally, mentally unhealthy "secrets" make people sick as do healthy expressions of life that are surpressed by an unhealthy controlling environment. You hide an unhealthy emotion or thought, in the closet of your own mind, it will not have the opportuity to be addressed and healed, given a caring, healthy environment. The freedom to say, "I feel this way or that way" is not the same freedom to use that information to harm another human being or to purposely make life more difficult for them. In the context of this page, we are also talking about the spectrum of human feelings and thoughts which can be "negative" or "positive." The postives are easy... and flow more readily in an open environment where all are free to express their reality with respect. The "negatives" also require a healthy environment grounded in the concept of mutual respect. Simple and more common examples might be: Feeling: "I don't like doing math." Response: We explore solutions together which can include the possiblity that the math is not necessary today or that the math curriculum is not a right fit or taking a math break might be helpful and so on. To specifically address your question: If my child thinks or feels racist, we talk about it and explore that, and because my child felt free to tell me what he thought, we can address it. If I shame his thinking, he will probably not feel so free to share his thoughts, positive or negative, with me in the future. Would you? At the same time, if I tell him or imply to him that it is OK to express himself without thought of others, in a way that is hurtful to others, and do not make efforts to expand his perspective or to address feelings and thoughts beneath, then I am condoning racism.

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