As much as we might want to prevent it, our kids will eventually discover the ugly truth about events like Charlottesville. If we could eternally shield them from the ignorance, hatred, racism, and violence associated with groups such as neo-Nazis, the KKK, and the alt-right, we would. But we can’t. It’s out there, and with the ever-increasing reach of social media and technology, it’s more accessible than ever.
With that in mind, I was relieved to discover this article from The Los Angeles Times. Entitled “How to talk to your kids about the violence in Charlottesville,” it begins by setting the stage for why we, as parents, currently face this particular challenge:
“As violence erupted in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, with three killed and dozens injured at one of the largest white nationalist rallies in a decade, TV screens and news feeds across America were filled with images of chaos and terror. While politicians including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Senator Dianne Feinstein reacted by condemning the attacks, calling for “hope and prayers for peace” and reminders that “violent acts of hate and bigotry have no place in America,” parents seeing the news were faced with a dilemma that’s becoming an increasing concern for American families: if, and how, to talk about violence and racism with their children.”
The article goes on to list nine extremely helpful tips (all highly recommended by mental health experts and parents) for talking to your kids about what happened this weekend in Virginia. There is plenty of information to digest within the article, so they went ahead and broke it down to a few bullet points:
How to talk to children of different ages
Elementary school age
- Relate the issue to their world — make sure they know who they can go to if they ever feel unsafe.
- Tell them that if they see people being picked on at school, to always tell an adult, and to treat others with respect.
- Use age-appropriate language.
- Watch/read the news with them, then ask how they feel and what they think.
- Share your experiences.
- Help them discover what actions they can take to educate themselves and effect change.
- Remind them that you’re there, even if they don’t want to talk.
I hope this information helps you as you try to explain to your kids the type of things I never thought we’d need to explain in 2017.
Love and care for each other.