Do you feel like the apocalypse is just around the corner? I sometimes do. I am an optimist at heart and never really liked dwelling on the negative for too long. But, geez, it just feels like we are stuck in this dark period for awhile, with big heavy clouds hovering above us that simply would not go away. From the Vegas massacre and Puerto Rico’s hurricane devastation to taking the knee during the national anthem, our world is burdened with many vexing issues that can make us all feel sad, confused and angry.
Naturally with all these developments, our children, especially younger teens and below, absorb what is going on and internalize family discussions heard at home. They then become our little ambassadors to the world representing the views held by us, their parents. The only problem is that we live in such divisive times where no one can seem to agree on many things. Debates, at least at my older daughter’s middle school, often leads to an “us versus them” mentality, which causes rifts even among the closest of friends.
I am not sure exactly how much I should interfere in my girls’ lunchtime discussions. But there are a few things I do try to tell them. First, I encourage them to hear the other person out and not to get too emotional about the issue. After all, no one likes to feel like they are getting attacked for their personal views. Second, I urge them to seek out people not like them so they will get exposure to others’ viewpoints and thinking. Third, I try to steer them to the causes of the underdog, the vulnerable, those who may not have the voice to defend themselves.
Again, with the polarization of America, it is hard not to offend others these days. I do hope that the foundation we have given our girls to accept others and embrace diversity will have a lasting influence on them as they venture further in life. I hope that they will also always remember that a little kindness and empathy go a long way. What about you guys? How are you handling these difficult times with your children?