What I want my kids to know about current events ~
Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins
Some days more than others, I am reminded that we’re not just memorizing times tables around here. We’re guiding our kids toward becoming brave, compassionate adults.
They’re learning by watching us, and they’re learning by practicing along the way.
And yes, I hope they’re learning practical skills, like how to create a budget and how to make spaghetti, but I also know they need to learn more complicated things, like how to respond to the world around them—especially when the world around them is not as it should be.
So when the world is in upheaval, what do we want our kids to learn?
And I don’t just mean what do we want them to learn about international conflict, natural disasters, or health crises, though those are all important things to learn about.
I mean: What do I want them to learn about being a person in a world where those things can and do happen?
What I want my kids to know about current events
Right now, this is what I want my kids to learn:
Ask good questions.
Sometimes our questions start with: What’s happening? And how will it affect me?
After that, though—and especially as our kids get older—we want to move on to bigger questions like: What caused this? What happens next?
Start by doing what you can.
Can we offer our time, energy, or dollars in ways that will help? Can we help by listening, or by being present?
Can we send resources where they’re needed? If so, we start there.
Loosen your grip on what you can’t control.
For most of the really big disruptions in our lives, we’re not in control. That doesn’t mean we look away, or give up hope, or stop caring.
It means we do what we can, even if we can’t do everything. That’s what I want my kids to learn.
When there are big, scary things happening out in the world, it’s normal—even for us adults—to feel distracted, distressed, or antsy.
And yet, we (probably) still have to take care of our daily responsibilities, even in the middle of everything else.
Sometimes taking care of your regular, everyday work keeps you grounded and allows you to be of service. I want my kids to see me doing that, so they can practice doing it, too.
On the other hand, sometimes the right thing is to not carry on. Sometimes we have to let the daily routines come crashing down around us while we focus on solutions, reorganize our lives, or come to a new understanding of the world.
That can be good, hard, necessary, work, and I want my kids to know that we can give ourselves permission to do it.
I also want them to know that this kind of work is temporary; it’s part of being a human, but it doesn’t last forever.
Tend to your well-being.
Taking care of your physical and emotional needs doesn’t make you selfish, it makes you able to show up for others.
That might include extra sleep and nourishing meals. It might mean moving our bodies or getting some fresh air.
It might mean checking in with yourself, to see what you need. I want my kids to know that taking care of ourselves is part of taking care of the world.
Engage with the news responsibly.
It’s tempting to say: just turn off the news forever! But the truth is, in times of upheaval, we may decide we need to check the news—whether to stay safe or to find out how we can be of service.
But news that’s designed to enflame rather than inform will leave us overwhelmed and outraged. I don’t want that for myself, and I don’t want that for my kids. Instead, I want us all to practice healthy patterns of news consumption.
By teaching and modeling the steps above for my kids, I hope I inspire them to be proactive rather than reactive. Together we can take small actions to do what we can when we can, instead of merely allowing the world to overwhelm us.
In times of upheaval, what do you hope your kids are learning—about themselves, about the world, about how to be a person in the world? I’d love to hear.
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