Dear Ms. Vicki,
Today, I discovered your advice column and am happy to see a "Dear Abby" for the military.
I've been struggling with some major decisions for a while, and I'm not sure what direction I should take. Ultimately, I know I should wait for God's direction as He knows what's best, but I thought I'd ask you anyway.
I'm a surviving spouse with three pre-teen children. Like any mother, I want the best for my children, but I'm particularly concerned for my black son. He's a good kid. He's well-behaved, considerate, extremely helpful and, most importantly, God-fearing.
My issue is with the racism in this country. I have absolutely no desire to continue raising my children here. I know there's racism any-and-every where, but some places (such as England, where we were stationed when he was born) there is less of it. The racial tension in this country is high and very much in-your-face. With police brutality and racism, especially against black men, it makes me want to flee.
When my son gets older, I'm concerned that the police won't care if he's a hard-working, never-been-in-trouble, Christian, black man and that all they will see is his color. As a result, I'm strongly considering relocating to another country. I'd like for my children to experience different cultures, but it's not that easy considering the tough immigration laws, especially in Europe.
I'm wondering if you think moving to another country would be a good idea for us. If so, I'm struggling with what country would be the best.
In addition, I have educational benefits for a surviving spouse that I must use within five years. I'm trying to prepare myself for the future before the financial benefits end. I've been going back and forth on getting a degree in Food Science, Counseling Psychology and other programs. I really love American Sign Language, but I can only use it in the USA, a country I'm trying to flee.
There are so many options -- and I thank God for that -- but sometimes, I just can't narrow down the options and commit to a decision. My indecisiveness is frustrating to say the least. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Sincerely, Caring Mom
Dear Caring Mom,
First, let me say that I am sorry about the loss of your husband. I hope you have a strong wellness plan and family and close friends nearby to help you and your children.
Raising children is no easy task. As mothers, we feel that we have so much to teach our children and so little time. They are only children for a short time and the next thing you know they have driving permits, part-time jobs, are dating etc. All of these dynamics mean we have many heart-to-heart talks we need to give them.
I am the mother to three young black men. My husband and I still today give our sons "The Talk." We talk to them about what to do if and when they are stopped by the police. We tell them to keep their hands on the steering wheel and be respectful. My sons are not only black, but they are also large in stature, as is their father. These talks apply to my husband and to myself too.
Here's my gut check for you: Your son can't run or flee from his blackness. He can't hide it. As you said in your letter, racism is everywhere. Surely running from the situation won't ERACISM. The only thing you can do is keep raising your son in a good way, with a lot of family support and male mentors, and, yes, include black men who can be good role models to your children, as well as spiritual help from clergy and youth pastors.
Keep your son and all of your children busy in their community because this too will build good self-esteem. As you know, there are four ways to clear a room fast: Discuss race, religion, politics or sex.
I'd love to talk to you more and support you and your family in any way that I can. Please keep in touch.
-- Ms. Vicki