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How I Talk to My Teen About What is Happening in Our Country

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This article was originally published on Mommy Maestra.


Last night, around midnight, I found my eldest teen sitting on the back steps of our house crying. When I opened the door and asked what was happening, she said, "I hate this country." She bawled in my arms and showed me all the outraged social media posts she had seen about what was happening and the innocent lives that were being tortured or lost. She was overwhelmed by the horror.

At first, I hugged her and told her, "It's okay." I was on automatic pilot trying to soothe her. She immediately said, "No! It's not okay!" And she was right.

candles
Protesters light candles during a candlelight vigil in front of Pasadena City Hall after the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis in Pasadena on Sunday, May 31, 2020. | (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

I can't tell you how hard I prayed to have the right words for her.

So I told her, "You're right. It's not okay. And I'm really glad that you can see that."

We went on to talk about how our country was terribly broken right now. That it has been for a long time but that things have gotten worse in recent years. And people are angry and tired of being ignored.

People should be outraged. They should be livid that there is so much injustice, racism and just plain evil in this world ... and especially outraged that it is still happening in our country.

We talked about how looting is wrong, but their protests, anger and emotions were totally justified.

We talked about George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We talked about school shootings. We talked about children being separated from their parents and kept in cages or deported back to countries where they have no parents or families.

I talked about how all of this racism and hate wasn't new, but that it is now becoming visible to everyone and cannot be ignored.

I told her how proud I was of her for being upset and angry and just knowing how wrong it is to treat people so horribly. We talked about how we are all equal in God's eyes. I told her how we are all the same no matter what we look like on the outside. And we are all precious and valuable.

My daughter kept whispering that it should be instinct not to kill a person. That pretty much broke my heart.

I talked about how no baby is born racist. That it is a learned characteristic. Learned from examples. And it comes from a lack of education and a lack of exposure to people of all different walks of life.

I told her that her generation actually gave me a lot of hope. Because young people today are finding their voices and they aren't afraid to use them. People like Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, Greta Thunberg, Mala Yousafzai, Autumn Peltier and so many others.

I think that just talking about it was very therapeutic for her. She calmed down and was able to control her tears. Knowing that her feelings were justified and that she wasn't alone in feeling them was really important to her. So was letting her know that I was proud of her outrage and her ability to see the absolute wrongness of the whole situation.

These difficult issues are just exacerbated by the pandemic. Which makes our journey as individuals, as families, as communities and as a nation that much more difficult.

Don't be afraid to talk to your children. This is the perfect time to talk about the beliefs you hold to be good and true and right. Encourage your children to be brave in the face of adversity. To realize that they can be hurt for speaking the truth. But that ultimately staying true to ourselves and beliefs is worth it. And speaking up for those who are wronged, hurt, or worse is important — otherwise, we are guilty of the sin too.

Silence is acceptance.

Silence is approval.

We are better than that.


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