Mommy, why are they holding a sign that says “Black Lives Matter”?
Mommy, you said the police keep us safe. Why are those people mad at them?
Mommy, you said we needed to wear a mask, why aren’t those people wearing one?
Mommy, when will Coronavirus be over?
My husband always refers to kids as wide-eyed wanderers. In the past few months, although our kids have mostly been stuck at home, they have certainly had a lot of wandering to do. They have had to wander through issues of race, politics, and religion. They have had to wander through topics of science, health, and safety.
Helping our boys navigate the current happenings in our world has posed challenges. I have to admit, I was not ready to answer so many tough questions. I wanted my boys to hold on to their innocence a bit longer. I wanted them to remain in a world that was safe, loving, and kind, where most adults could be trusted and every kid was a potential friend.
We have always worked to ensure that our boys were in a relationship with a variety of people. Our children don’t base their relationships on whether or not their friend looks like them, or whether they have on a certain type of clothing. They play with whoever is being kind, and thankfully, most of the adults and kids in their lives have been just that.
But in spite of all our “protection” from reality, our children notice more than we realize. I had no idea that my six-year-old was paying attention until we were taking a walk one day and he saw a sign in the yard that said “Black Lives Matter”. He said, “Mom, I know why that sign is there. It’s because of George Floyd”. I didn’t even realize he knew who George Floyd was. We take a few steps further and he sees a sign that says “Blue Lives Matter”. So of course, more questions arise. I knew then that I could no longer stay complacent in educating him about current events.
Having to explain to them the realities of the world has been heartbreaking at times. But, in the words of abolitionist Frederick Douglas, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”. That statement is as true today in 2020 as it was when he wrote it in 1855.
Right now, we’re all spending most of our time in the safety and security of our homes. But eventually, our kids are going to be back in school and they will encounter ideas and opinions from their peers. Those ideas could be contrary to what we have taught them. I want to answer those questions for my kids based on the truth and the values we hold in our home. I want my boys to be confident and kind. I want them to know that they have a voice and to be unafraid to use it to stand up for themselves, to stand up to hate, and to stand up for others.
I am not writing to give you the answers to the questions my kids asked, or to suggest answers to the questions of your children. One scroll through social media and its apparent that those answers will vary from family to family, as they are based on our individual values and worldview.
I am writing to encourage you not to shy away from the questions your children ask, even at a young age. Don’t be afraid to answer them. Invest your time in educating them and raising their awareness of the world, in an age-appropriate way.
The resources below are great tools to start engaging your children in conversations about current events. Navigate the news sites together and begin diving into those tough conversations as questions arise. Let your child take the lead in asking the questions.
“There is no greater education than one that is self driven”
-Neil deGrasse Tyson
Don’t squash their curiosity just because a conversation is uncomfortable. If they are asking, they will eventually find an answer. As parents, we want to be the ones to provide that truth.
My biggest plea to you, from one mom to another, for the sake of our world and the future of our children, (regardless of what aisle you stand on these issues), please teach your children the value of human life and the dignity of every person, whether that person looks like you, votes like you, or worships like you. If we could start there, we can begin to heal so many wounds of our society.
New-O-Matic App: Fun, interactive way for kids to learn about the world: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/app-reviews/news-o-matic
NBC Learn: Curated news clips that help clarify science, history and tech
News 2 You: Symbols based newspaper for kids with special needs
Newsela: Read about current events at a level kids are comfortable with
NewsForKids.net: Kid focused current events
Time Magazine for Kids: https://www.timeforkids.com/
Youngzine: Interactive learning community
CBS Kids News: Age appropriate interesting news
Scholastic News for Kids: https://scholasticnews.scholastic.com/