As someone who’s been in what I call “the immigration world” for nearly six years and a father of two young daughters, I have thought about the question, “How do I talk about Immigration with my children?” for quite some time. Not only have I thought about this question, but I have received this question to The immigration Coalition on a consistent basis from others around the country recently.
Immigration is a hot topic in the United States today, and our children are hearing about it more often in our homes, restaurants, schools, Children’s church, television shows, Sunday school classes, and even in churches on Sunday.
For those of us who are parents, God has given us the honor and privilege of teaching our children about immigration from a biblical perspective. This is no easy task, but a necessary one.
So how should we talk about immigration with our children?
Stories of Immigrants
As Parents, the Bible is the first place we should begin concerning immigration. Sharing stories of Immigrants in the Bible is a great blessing–and there’s a lot of characters to choose from: Jesus, Ruth, Moses, Abraham, Joseph, and the Israelites is a great place to start. How impactful would it be to share with our children that the Savior of the World, Jesus, was once a Migrant fleeing persecution as a child with His Parents? This would be enormously impactful! Share these stories before bedtime or throughout the day.
Stories of Migrant Children
As many of us know, there are Migrant children at the Southern Border who have been separated from their parents. Most of these children are the same age as our very own children living under our roof. There are testimonials of Migrant children sharing their honest experiences in detention centers at the Southern Border that we can read to our children as a way to help them understand the need to pray for others their age who need the comfort of Jesus and don’t have as much as they do. You can read some of these testimonies provided by Newsweek HERE.
Watching animated movies about diverse ethnicities is a great practice for our children to learn about immigration. Disney movies such as Coco, Moana, and Aladdin are some of the most ethnically and culturally diverse movies to watch. All of the Toy Story movies are wonderful films to watch as well because they present the viewer with a diverse group of toys who are friends and work together to accomplish powerful outcomes. During these movies, we can pause and explain the ethnic and cultural diversity, and affirm that this is beautiful for them to welcome in their hearts.
Build Diverse Friendships
Setting up playdates with families who are ethnically and culturally different helps our children build diverse friendships. Our children having an eclectic group of friends is a tremendous blessing not only to them but for those of us who are parents too. Jesus had an eclectic group of friends, so our children should too. My wife intentionally sets up playdates with families who are ethnically and culturally different, and I cannot tell you how much of a blessing it’s been for our daughters and my wife and me. Now, building diverse friendships will not be easy, but God hasn’t called us to ministry that’s easy. Try it. I promise you won’t regret it.
Taking time to define what an Immigrant, Refugee, Undocumented Immigrant, Asylum Seeker, Unaccompanied Minor, and Migrant is will help our children know why they have come to the United States and their status. Take one term for one week and share the definition before bed or nap time. For example, before saying goodnight to your child, say, “An Immigrant is someone who chooses to live permanently in a foreign land.” Have them try and repeat what you just said. This helps when they encounter an Immigrant, Refugee, or Undocumented Immigrant at school. More importantly, we should tell our children that these terms do not define them–that they really have a name just like they do. And God calls them by their name before ever calling them by the term the United States gives them.
What are some other ways we can talk to our children about Immigration?
By Rondell Treviño, Director, TiC