NU.nl has launched the NUjunior.nl news site especially for children. It can sometimes be difficult for parents to talk to their child about certain news topics. Experts come to the rescue in this series. This time: how do you talk to your child about the Zwarte Piet discussion?
The discussion about the appearance of Zwarte Piet is mainly between adults, but it also affects children. Reason enough to have a good conversation with your child, 'religious' or not, at the kitchen table.
More than with many other news, adults form a strong personal opinion on items about the appearance of Zwarte Piet. Child psychologist Mathijs Euwema of International Child Development Initiatives (ICDI) doesn't mind at all. "Wherever you are as a parent in the discussion, for or against Zwarte Piet or more in the middle; it is good to share that with your child. But keep your emotions under control and be open to what your child thinks about it. By far most children think that Piet's appearance is a non-issue. It's not about 'the tradition', but about having a fun party. "
Clear the wider context
That does not mean that talking about it is very good. Not in the least because children get the discussion anyway. Euwema: "The anger of (other) parents also reaches children. The longer this persists and the more it escalates, the greater the impact." In other words: that is better for you.
In addition, such a conversation with your child offers a good opportunity to explain the broader context, according to Heleen Schols, who recently obtained his PhD at the University of Amsterdam for a study into the Piet discussion. "Ultimately, the question is: how do you deal with each other in a democratic society? How do you make decisions? On the basis of the majority? And how do you deal with minority views?"
129The transition from Zwarte Piet over the years
Continue to conduct the debate, in the interest of the children
Schols thinks it is wise to continue the debate, also in the interest of children. Then more understanding can arise. Her research shows that the quarrel about Piet is mainly about different interpretations, where some interpretations are more dominant than others and our image of Dutch history plays a role.
"We like to see the Netherlands as a shining example of tolerance," she explains. "That makes it more difficult to accept that Zwarte Piet might be fun, but that does not happen to an ever-growing group of Dutch people - and children not to forget."
Child psychologist Euwema notes that throughout this discussion children are rarely asked what change they find acceptable and that it is good to do that. For example, by first researching online what Piet looked like in the past and discussing with your child what Piet might look like in the future.
Teach your child to speak
Researcher Schols also sees the blackjack discussion as a way to help children see what impact they can have when they speak out.
"Suppose two children have a fight in the schoolyard. One child is cursed and is not allowed to participate and the other children decide not to say anything about it. That is quite understandable, because you make yourself visible if you do. But let the bystanders do not have a chance to improve the whole atmosphere in the classroom, and that also applies in this discussion: if we want to have it better together, we cannot be neutral and aloof under the guise of 'we want to keep it cozy' By making you heard, we broaden the discussion and that is good for everyone. "
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