Wow. The start to 2021 has been pretty relentless so far! What a week.
I thought it might be helpful to share a bit about my thoughts about how parents might use the attack on the Capitol as a conversation starter with their kids.
While some families might not want to talk about what happened and why it was as scary as it was, I think it might actually be helpful if not unavoidable with kids home so much right now due to the pandemic. For many, we might just want to avoid the topic altogether because we don’t know what to say that would be helpful and not scary for our kids. And while I certainly do not have all the answers, I had some thoughts about it.
One thing parents can always do during a difficult or scary situation is to lean into the facts to explain what is happening. We can say that a group of people believe that the election we had was manipulated in some way and that they needed to protest that and in a sense, take back their country. You can explain that while this is not accurate about the election, what these people believe is creating their reality and likely, some sense of fear and being wronged (accurate or not, this seems to be the feeling that led to the incident Wednesday).
This might be a good opportunity to discuss how our beliefs do create our reality and why it is important to be open to differing opinions and facts. It’s also important to teach them words like insurrection, coup, and anarchy so that they can understand that this situation went far beyond a typical protest, as it did not seem that peace was the intended result.
The second thing that parents can do is recognize that they do not have all the answers and know what is going to happen. Many kids are going to wonder if there will be consequences for what happened and it is okay to say you don’t know and I would then ask what they think should happen.
If you have a more anxious child, take some time to unpack their worries and try to reassure them that while this is scary, it may not develop into anything more than what happened this week. We don’t know but we can focus on what we do know, which is that parents work hard to protect their children and that you are there to support them. Try joining them in their feelings and letting them know it is okay to be worried and scared. Then, you can try to share what you do to help yourself during these times (not the wine drinking but the walks, talking it through with trusted people, and focus on what you can control kinds of things).
Parents can use these conversations as a starting point for discussions about social contracts and why we have government. Given the numerous examples in our families about these topics on a smaller level, you might come up with some examples of how anarchy creates chaos!
Remember, the more parents avoid talking about the events of this week, the scarier it will feel for our kids. It is our job to put aside our feelings (to an extent) and unpack the situation together. Focus on how your family will face hard things together and that it is okay for difficult things to cause us difficult emotions and that we can handle those together too.
I hope this is helpful. Let’s all hang in there for the rest of what 2021 has in store for us. Hopefully there are some less stressful times ahead!
And always, if you or your family could use added support, please let us know at Thrive!
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