How to talk to your children about Dallas.

How to talk to your children about Dallas

Four Ways To Address Dallas With Your Children

July 8, 2016

The last 48 hours deserve some acknowledgement. Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota: two black men killed by police officers and then last night in Dallas, Texas, five officers were gunned down by a sniper shooting at them from an elevated areas as they were out protecting protestors. Legitimate, law abiding protestors. Of the very police violence that we saw in Baton Rouge an in Minnesota.

This about our homeland. And it's also about our homes. So I thought I would get on air for a few minutes to talk about how we should think about talking about this summer from Orlando to Turkey to today. This summer has brought a lot of mayhem and I want to be totally blunt with you: there is no universal approach to talk to our children. Its not only age appropriate and experience appropriate, I'm speaking as a mother of three living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. My kids' experience tends to be relatively safe and secure. 
But what I do think is universal is our love for our children and our desire to ease their unease.
The first thing is to recognize for and with your children that the violence is not abstract. That the anxiety is real and that it's natural for them to react. They are absorbing what is happening whether it's the President speaking, or their catching it on radio. You acknowledging their very real anxiety and dear is important.
Secondly, have a conversation. But don't force it. Ask them questions. How are they feeling? What do they think? Ask them to open up. You don't own this conversation, they do. 
Thirdly, remember that your kids are feeding off of your anxiety, fear, and rage. Sitting there yelling that the world is going to hell in a hand basket or that there are race riots is not helpful to them. They will be absorbing how you react, so react thoughtfully. 
Fourth, do something. Talking is enough, putting things into perspective and simply listening goes really far, but also do things with your children. Give them tools and plans to help them minimize their own risk. Discuss their active shooter protocols at school. Run, hide, and only engage if you must. For those of you in communities where the relationship with the police is tense, understand that children need to be taught how to interact with police officers.
Maybe teaching our children how to live in the world they already live in, to be less violent will prevent these conversations from having to span generations.

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