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"The Only Way to Find Your Voice is to Use it"

Home for Christmas is a cute, little short, written by Brookelyn Mosley. It’s about a newly separated couple, Jaleel and Eva, who find their way back to love during the Christmas holiday. Usually for these write ups, I choose one of the main characters to highlight, but for this one, a supporting character, their son, Jaleel Jr., better known as J.R., deserves recognition, because he stole the show. If it weren’t for him, they probably would’ve never found their way back together. J.R. wrote a Christmas list for Santa, but it wasn’t a traditional list. All he wanted for Christmas was to spend the Christmas holiday with his family. All three of them. He went even as far as to have some rules they had to follow throughout the holiday—one of them being that Jaleel and Eva had to sleep in the same bed together. I’m sure you know how that went.

I just loved how J.R. was so comfortable being vulnerable and asking for something he truly wanted. It’s important for children to grow up in an environment where they can express themselves. Because times won’t always be rosy, they need to feel like they have a voice at school and at home. Children who grow up in a mental prison of emotions without expressing them can begin to feel lonely, hopeless, and sometimes worthless—all precursors for suicidal ideation, which, according to a recent study, has risen from 34.6% to 44.3% within the last few years.

I know that for a lot of us Black folk, we’re not used to treating kids this way. It was “toughen up”, “You have nothing to be depressed about”, so when it comes to raising, counseling, or teaching children, it’s not second nature for us to give voice to kids. According to the experts, here are some ways you can give your kids a voice, whether in your home as a parent or in the classroom as an educator:

1.) Assume that what your child has to say about the world is just as important as what you have to say.

2.) Assume that you can learn as much from them as they can from you.

3.) Enter their world through play, activities, discussions: don't require them to enter yours to make contact.

4.) Stop moving and stop doing when they speak to you.

5.) Respect their words.

6.) Let them speak for themselves whenever possible.

7.) Let them be the expert of something.

8.) Listen without fixing, without judgement.

9.) Pause before responding when troubling information is shared. This gives you time to respond without anger and/or judgement.

Little J.R. in Home for Christmas was the G.O.A.T. He wasn’t afraid to tell his parents how he felt but truly, his parents deserve a shout out too because the tone has to be set in the home for a child to be this comfortable using their voice. For more parenting tips in a Black household, check out

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