Talking About REAL Issues With Your Kids
As a recovering politico hiding out in playgroups in suburbia, I am not, how do I phrase this, culturally aware. I don’t watch the morning news, I watch Curious George. I don’t have a ‘first hour at my desk before my real job begins” to cruise the web aimlessly reading whatever interests me. Most days I am lucky if I click on 1 article from my Yahoo daily new digest app. We don’t really watch live TV at all anymore, and in the car it is christian radio or Raffi on Pandora… you know, things “safe for the little ears.”
I often joke that facebook is my link to the outside world, but it is a terrible, terrible news source. My facebook feed is almost always exclusively filled with pictures of other people’s children, other parenting blogs and silly meme’s about women, wine and exhaustion.
But some things are so big, so culturally important, they shine through to my little suburban existence and remind me that there is a great big world out there, and I am still a small part of it. And these last few weeks, I have been reminded that we as a country are still tackling some pretty big issues.
Marriage equality, police brutality and explosive racial tensions that flare up now and then and bring out the worst in us.
The CEO tries his best to keep me up to speed on current events. I think we are both as interested and passionate as ever (about the news people… focus!) but talking about some of these big issues, that weigh on our hearts and shock our minds, is hard to do with those cute, innocent little ears always around. Always listening. Always asking questions.
For example, the CEO was working from home one day and had an audible reaction to a news story. Of course I notice and come over to ask if everything is ok, and Associate P does too. The CEO tells him it is nothing and sends him back to play, but then shows me the video of a cop in Texas treating a teenage girl so brutality I have an audible, expletive-laced reaction.
Well now both little Associates are aware that mommy and daddy are upset and something is going on. The questions begin…
What is it Mommy?
Can I see?
It’s nothing. Someone was being mean. No, I’m sorry sweetie – It is not an age appropriate video. And I try to move on, and pretend the rock in the pit of my stomach isn’t there.
I have been caught, too often lately, wondering how to respond to my little associates when they see mommy sad and distracted, or yesterday joyous and giddy. Part of me wants to have this big adult conversation with them about what is happening in our world. I want to begin their education right now. Today. But I don’t want to merely brainwash them with my opinions. I want to raise them with a foundation of solid morals and clear values, and hopefully have them be able to decide for themselves what and why they believe in things like equality, mercy, tolerance.
So I turn to the good doctor. Dr. Seuss has a way of discussing big ideas…. modesty, humility, kindness, faithfulness, fairness, open-mindedness, patience, equality respect and love… in a way that illustrates them so beautifully and fanciful, we can discuss them with our children and they will understand. Almost every story he wrote has an underlying message, from Horton to Yertle the Turtle, Bartholomew to The Zax.
So if you are a parent that, like me, wants to talk about the REAL issues happening in our world today with your young kids, might I suggest you read and watch three of his best lessons: The Sneetches, The Zax, and Green Eggs and Ham.
The Sneetches teaches about discrimination and equality. The Zax teaches that the world won’t stop for your pride and stubbornness (I’d like to send this one to every single GOP Presidential candidates.) And Green Eggs and Ham teaches that you shouldn’t say you hate something unless you’ve tried it, and perhaps more subtle, but equally as important: you shouldn’t dislike anyone because they like and advocate for something you disagree with. Sam is an alright guy!
So yesterday, with tears streaming down my face, I read the happiest of happy endings to my associates:
But Mc. Bean was quite wrong. I’m quite happy to say
That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day,
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars
And wether they had one or not upon thars.
Well put dear daughter. Also, as the most famous of men once said, “Love thy neighbor as yourself”. Then there is the un- tarnishable rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Live and teach these two basic concepts and the little ones will follow your lead.
I think it always be a challenge talking with your children but there are a lot of ways to do it in a way that is understandable. You can use many examples out there in a positive way.