Here we are again: Faced with senseless tragedy and wondering how we explain this to our children. Since I became a parent, safety has been a top priority (and worry). My children are just starting to be at an age where we can talk about good and evil and I’m often stumped at what I should be telling them. Here’s a short list I am considering:
- Teach them that there is good and evil in the world. Even though my desire is to shield them, protect them and to keep them innocent, I can do none of these. And these two contraries cannot be dismissed. Therefore I will tell them that we must be alert to recognizing evil and fleeing from it. I will teach them they can successfully avoid hate and lying. I will also teach them to call out evil and stand up for what is right. Mostly, I will teach them to actively seek the good in others and to be someone in whom it is easy for others to see good in as well.
- Teach them that it’s OK to talk about our fears. Watching the local news is scary. The other night, the first six stories were on gun violence in our town. Most young children don’t watch the news but children can’t avoid exposure as they interact with the adult world. Open dialogue about our fears is important; simple ones, complicated ones and deep ones to be discussed and wrangled with, even when you are 6 years old. I want to be a safe place for those discussions.
- Tell them that I have questions, too. Why does this keep happening? There are many occurrences in this world for which we have no answers. But I can refer them to No. 1 and remind them that even though I may not have an answer, I’m here and willing to help them talk through this.
- Build them up to ‘be the love’ in the world. Literally, we all keep saying that love will win, but the only way that will happen is if we extend love to all. That means that we have to get out of our comfort zones and embrace even people we find difficult to love. Love may be giving someone money for a meal, it may be raking your neighbor’s yard or it may starting a conversation with someone that you’ve avoided for years. I need to demonstrate this more so that these young lives in my sphere of influence leave my home prepared to love others instead of extending judgment or hate.
Parenting is hard. It is different with every child and changes with every circumstance. I certainly don’t have any magic answers on how to parent best. I do know that if we are intentional about being the best version of ourselves, focused on serving others, making a daily difference in people’s lives, we have the best chance at mending a broken world and bringing peace to a world for our children’s children. We won’t ever be sorry that we taught our children to love more and love deeply.
Dixie Chicks’ lyrics have been running through my mind, ‘if there’s ever an answer, it’s more love.’
Jennifer Newell, a townie, has been a fan of chambanamoms.com since it’s conception. She loves spending time with her husband, kids, and going to the beach. She spends her free time chauffeuring her two kids to and from activities and loving the #chambana community.