When Adults Disagree: Making sense of it all

I was driving through downtown Corvallis this evening during “rush hour” (as a native of Los Angeles, I scoff at the idea of traffic congestion in Corvallis). As I drove past the Courthouse on 4th street my 12-year-old and I noticed that there was a larger-than-normal crowd of demonstrators with signs asking us to “honk” if we support peace and not war. My daughter read as many signs as she could as we drove by at 25 miles per hour. “Mom, are you gonna honk?”, she asked quizzically. “Well”, I answered hesitantly, “I am still unsure of how I feel about what the US role in this situation should be.” Of course, you can probably guess what her next question was.

“Why?” (This question is still at the top of the list even past the early childhood years.)

After a long pause and a quick internal check of my personal understanding of what is happening politically in the world and how much my tween daughter is developmentally prepared (or even interested in) to digest, I began a conversation about current world events by asking her what she understands about what is happening in Syria.

I quickly realized how seemingly-clear politics can appear for a adolescent that lives in her own personal glass bubble (where wrongdoers always get their due-especially if they have the title of “little brother”). “Why would someone do that? I can’t believe it. Of course they should be punished!”

So I started thinking about how effective conversations about the complexities of world unrest, war, and justice should sound between a parent and child. In the brochure titled “Talking with Children About War“, brought to you by ParentingPress.com, I found that many of the suggestions are things that have been mentioned in previous blogs in various contexts, including: accept children’s feelings, open the discussion, listen to kids, and limit the amount of war news. There are 12 tips listed in all and they provided me with a framework for future conversations with all three of my children about our current world events. This should be helpful for all parents because our children may be exposed to more news about political disturbances in Syria and the like in the days ahead.