Sometimes I bring up tricky issues that are happening in the news — like sexual harassment — to see what my kids know. A great place to do that is in the car with the parent at the wheel. Kids are more open when they don’t have to look directly at your face.
This has come to the forefront with the active shooter situation in Parkland, Florida.
My children are too young to understand what has happened but their school has adopted the ALICE training and they have shared developmentally appropriate stories with the students to use as a frame of reference just in case they are faced with an active shooter. (We have also listened to the Little Red Riding Hood episode of the Stories Podcast about a hundred times.)
The comment resonated with me because I realized just how important, even from a young age, it is to talk with my children and get their “take” on things.
My kids, even though they are only 4 and 6, do have a frame of reference for the wolves in the world. Asking them questions about the stories helps me gain insight into their thoughts. It also helps them think about what they would do in that situation and almost lets them practice being in that situation in their minds.
And it provides the opportunity for me to answer their questions. And they have a lot of questions.
I realized that my answers are shaping their way of viewing the world.
Through our conversations I have been able to learn when they feel scared, what they might do if faced with a wolf, if they know what a stranger is, who they trust, what empowers them.
These conversations require me to be brave but my uncomfortable feelings are small compared with the huge opportunity tough conversations present. Afterward I always feel better. And, of course, I think of a hundred other things I want to talk about next time.