This week has not been an easy one for people living in the United States. Regardless of political affiliation, religious beliefs or social background we’ve all come face to face with a very real and very ugly side of our country. I watched the events in Charlottesville unfold in shock and horror, but all my thoughts were with my children. How do I explain hate and an event as tragic as this to them?
My kids are still babies, both under the age of two and way too young to understand the world we live in. I know a day is coming in the future when my toddler will start picking up words he hears at school or on television. As parents we must be proactive. I made myself an outline; something to help guide our conversation and assist my husband and me when it’s time to discuss difficult or hard to understand events with our children.
Be First: Kids are so much more perceptive than what we give them credit for. It’s easy to assume the news is going over their heads, but they hear more than we know. Talking with our children at home before they hear things at school is the best way to ensure we are a part of these critical conversations.
Be Open: Create an open line of communication. If they do hear something scary or concerning at school, we want them to come to us, their parents, with questions. We want to create a safe space where they will not be judged or condemned for their thoughts.
Be Honest: The world is frightening, and sometimes, especially as a parent, it feels as though nowhere is safe. We don’t want our kids to live in fear, but they can’t live in a bubble. I want them to trust me, I want them to come to me, so I have to tell them the truth. There is evil in the world, and there are people who rejoice in hurting others.
Be an Example: Demonstrate the type of person you want your kids to grow up to be. Our children are watching us everyday. They notice if our words don’t align with our actions. Show them how to love and respect others.
I’m dredging the day my kids ask about words like ‘racism’ and ‘white supremist.’ I don’t know how to answer all the questions their little minds will think up. All I know is that if I don’t talk to them, someone else will.