My heart is heavy today as I watch the live stream of an invasion of a peaceful country. This is the first time in human history that the public is privy to war tactics and the real-time movement of the military. It’s real, it’s unfolding before us, and we are all a part of this as global citizens.
As parents, we try to protect our kids from the harshness that can be part of living in this world. I know for my family, we’ve been watching the news without our kids around and have been cautious not to talk much about it in front of them. However, I’ve been trying to wrap my head around how we, as a society, should talk to our kids about some of the scary things they may hear or see whether from the news in our home or friends at school. How do we give them the facts without overburdening them with the world’s problems?
I started looking for sources and came across some great sites presented by Common Sense Media that helped me select an article I found appropriate for my 9-year-old to read about what is currently happening in Ukraine. Two conversations occurred after she read the article that I felt were important to talk about: media literacy and how we treat others.
We discussed the importance of reading articles that are based on facts from reliable sources. What does it mean to think critically and weed out the news that might not be rooted in truth? If a friend tells us something, or we see a post on the internet, should we believe everything right away? I want my kids to know that it is up to them to check their sources and ask questions if something doesn’t seem right. That not everything they read, see, and hear will be accurate. Helping our children be critical thinkers in this digital age is so important, especially when it comes to the way they treat others.
When something of this scale happens there is often a quick-to-judge reaction that occurs towards people from the countries involved. As witnesses to this event as it unfolds, this is where we can make the most impact on our children. How we talk about and reference the events will make all the difference in the way our kids learn about conflict. Yes, something horrific is happening and there is a clear leader at fault. However, our friends and neighbors, regardless of where they come from, need to be treated with love and kindness. We must model for our children that world conflict does not take away from the love we have for the people of those places. Our neighborhoods are represented by many different cultures, and we will love them all the same.
Be cautious of your words. Show kindness to your neighbors. Help your child understand that even during a war there can be light and that it is at this time we must shine our brightest.