Do you even want to turn that TV on anymore, or are the current events and hatred getting to you, too?
Talking to kids about current events and hatred is tough. Things are blowing up. People are getting shot. Protesters at presidential rallies are roughing people up. Then the terrorists.
Your kids have ears, eyes, friends at school and social media.
They watch and listen… to you.
Here's 5 ways to talk to your kids about current events and hatred in a way they'll listen.
- Once upon a time, racism was acceptable, but no matter what people say, it always has been and always will be bad. Jim Crow is a funny name, so feel free to invoke it. Slavery is covered in school (sort of), but be very clear that it’s never okay to own another human being. Everyone is judged — even the middle class white kid down the street. It’s up to your child to choose not to discriminate. It’s also fine to remove the Xbox, cell phone and computer, not to mention grounding for life, if you ever hear them say anything racist. (Oh, but make sure they’re not picking up on “jokes” you’re saying aloud. Little ears are everywhere.)
- Presidential politics are like kids fighting in a sandbox. It’s startling to watch adults throw things and spit on people and make up silly chants, but it happens. Lots of people want to be President of the Unites States of America. Help your kids understand that you may support one person and your neighbor another. Tell them that it’s okay to want something very much, but it’s not okay to beat someone up, lie, call people names, or hurt others to get it.
- ISIS Biblical scholars spend a lifetime trying to sort out the whole Sunnis vs Shiites thing, and other scholars debate whether taking out Saddam Hussein created ISIS. Some people in other countries hate America, and what it stands for (feel free to toss in freedom, Democracy) – and their resolution for that hatred and misunderstanding is to blow things up. Hate-driven destruction is bad, and almost the whole world thinks it’s bad. If your children expresses fear, tell them that they’re more likely to be harmed by having furniture fall on them than by a terrorist (seriously).
- Syrian Refugees There are, of course, parents do not want an influx of Syrian refugees into the United States, and those parents have the kids who’ll bring that hatred into school. Like this kid who threatened to shoot up a Muslim kid. Your kids need to know that this country has welcomed people from other countries since forever, and that if Syrian refugees end up in your town, you welcome them, because they’re running away from a dangerous, poor existence and they need help. Refer back to the whole “furniture-falling is more dangerous and likely than Syrians turned terrorist” thing (seriously, read it here).
And tell them since the twin towers went down on 9/11, we’ve welcomed 750,000 refugees, and only two of them have been charged with terrorism.
- Muslims “Catholics.” “Presbyterians.” “Episcopalians.” These are terms we use to define people who follow a particular form of organized religion. It’s pretty simple to work “Muslim” into this list. Being Muslim is not scary – it’s simply the definition of a certain set of religious beliefs. Muslims follow the religion of Islam, and instead of a bible, they have a Quran; instead of a church, they go to a mosque. Muslims aren’t weird, or creepy, and they don’t sacrifice small animals and plot terrorist activities at their mosques. Learn more here.
Kids need to know that it’s not okay to judge a whole group of people on the actions of a few.
What kids hear is one thing. What they have validated at home, is another.
You’re working hard to raise your children in a safe, loving environment. Hopefully, these 5 tips will help you talk about current events and hatred with your kids in a productive way. I know it’s hard, but you’re helping your kid be an even better person by doing it.