I have heard from many parents lately that they are not sure how to talk to their kids about the violence and hatred going on in the world. Danger isn’t limited to lurking in the shadows anymore. Mass shootings are constantly plastered on the front pages of the newspapers and newscasts and online reports shout their opposition or thoughts about what happened. We parents want to protect the little ears in our midst and we wonder how to protect the innocent minds and hearts of our children.
I’m not wondering anymore. I’m not protecting their innocence anymore. I’m opening the door wide-open to the disgusting world that they live in, and saying, “Thoughts?”
Here’s why the violence must end
Our generation has not done a great job at pointing this world toward prosperity and freedom. Lawmakers, private citizens, taxpayers, you name it … we’ve failed miserably. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and everyone that carries a political ideal and agenda have failed. I do not believe anyone in position of authority anymore can fix this messed up world. But maybe our children can do a better job of it.
My job as a parent is to prepare my children for life. To get them ready for what the world has to offer. Well, this world doesn’t have much to offer right now. I’m fed up. I’m disgusted. I have no hope anymore that stricter gun control laws will take effect. I have no hope anymore that politicians will act on behalf of the betterment of the people without having a dollar or personal agenda attached to whatever mission they are on. I’m throwing in the towel and passing the mission on to the next generation.
So, this is the world you live in kids … get to it.
After the many mass shootings, I let my kids know what happened and how it happened. When Paris was attacked, my kids heard the details. They know about India and Benghazi and Syria and Kenya and Nigeria. After the shootings in San Bernardino, Virginia, Connecticut, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc., my kids heard about it from me. And they know the names and faces belonging to Treyvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice . . .
I am raising leaders. (At least, that’s the hope.) This is the world they are inheriting. It is a different world than we used to know and while innocence has been lost, hopefully knowledge has been gained. It is up to our children to take this world and make it better. We didn’t do it and we have no plan to make it better. (And don’t blame the opposing political party for it either. President Bush failed and President Obama has as well. They can blame the other all they want, but the fact is guns are still easily purchased, police brutality has increased, and Fox News lies about it all.)
Which is why I want my kids to know what is going on in this world. Maybe they will be able to solve the problems that have left us all flummoxed.
When I talk to my children about violence and hatred and these things, I do it in a face to face discussion, without any distractions. They don’t need to see much of the carnage, but they do need to know what is happening around them. And I let them know right away when something like this happens. They’ll hear about it soon anyway, so it is better for them to get their information from me.
I share sympathetically and wait for their questions, then I answer them the best I can. And if I don’t know the answer, I say I don’t know. I also encourage them to problem solve; I let them come up with their own ideas of what should be done in response. Maybe they’ll do a better job in this than we have. After all, like Whitney sang, “Children are the future.”
A version of this first appeared on One Good Dad.