Hard Conversations

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Not unlike a day last year following George Floyd’s death at the hands of the police, I stood by the kitchen island and played a seven minute video showing what happened in the nation’s Capitol yesterday. All three of my children watched in horror as men and women scaled walls, broke windows, defiled offices and made off with podiums. I played the video and restrained myself from commenting. The horror on my childrens’ faces was hard to watch.

A few minutes after they were done watching and drinking their morning beverage, I explained what happened. I hoped my voice was matter of fact. I told that that our current President was having a hard time coming to terms with his losing the election and he was encouraging his supporters to protest. Instead of protesting peacefully, they broke into a building where our elected representatives were gathered to declare our next President and Vice President. They vandalized everything they saw. They tore down nameplates and defiled offices.

After the immediate outrage was past, I explained to them why I felt they had to see the video. I told them this is what happens when you do not learn to lose gracefully. This is what happens when bullies grow up and assume positions of power. Mostly, I told them I wanted them to hear from me about what happened at the Capitol on Jan 6th 2021 because they will hear other versions of it on the school bus, at school, sometimes, from teachers and other authority figures. These narratives will be colored by the views of the people spouting them. This will well be something they will share with their progeny some day.

It was a short conversation. It was also a very hard one. I realized this would set the tone for the kinds of conversations we will have as mother and daughters over the next few years. Not all of them will involve anarchy or bloodshed. Some of them may. As we face a tumultuous two weeks before we have a new administration sworn in, I pray that this will be the last of these conversations I will have awhile. Yet, my instinct tells me this is just the beginning.

As someone who grew up with no awareness or knowledge of the political process, this is new territory for me.

So, fellow parents and caregivers, tell me, how are you handling politics and divisive topics in your home? Are you laying it out? Are you being protective? Are you coloring what you share with your ideology? Do share.

6 thoughts on “Hard Conversations

  1. I was outraged Lakshmi by what happened yesterday. I don’t know the right way to discuss this with the children apart from showing how unacceptable it is. It is a bar that has been breached. Will we be survive a younger, more ruthless version of a dictator? I worry. This was a sad, sad moment for the largest democracy – a beacon of hope for the whole world to witness this.

  2. It’s been several years here for us now, lots to see and explain. My grade 3 kid had to know what rape was when the Nirbhaya rape rocked the nation. We were in Delhi to boot at that time, seeing curfews and barriers preventing protestors. News has to be discussed openly. I think it is impossible for our ideologies to not colour the way we explain things, esp. now when the ideologies seem rooted in stone with one side defining itself by hate. I do not discourage questions of any kind – one kid will be the devil’s advocate and more so when it is my voice speaking up. Teenage is running rife here, rebellion is the norm. I want my ideology of inclusion and acceptance to sustain, nothing else has worked anywhere in the world, though they keep trying again and again.

    Saw this and thought of you.

    https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/talking-to-kids-about-the-violence-at-the-us-capitol?j=8164053&sfmc_sub=171809331&l=2048712_HTML&u=161498193&mid=6409703&jb=1710&utm_source=org_talking_to_kids_violence_uscapital_20210107&utm_medium=email&fbclid=IwAR29LbSnMYs-yUWTcJaSgIMeDI8WKyBy9xyhy2wD7HaIBaSYS-2G-cFbpWk

    1. Thank you for the link. I will check it out. We are on the verge of teenage and I want to set the tone for how we discuss and confront difficult topics at home.

      1. The one thing that has helped me is that teenagers seem to have a worldview formed by their own social media and news channels. I often ask my daughter what she thinks and what I should know. That gives me a base to start talking, and also increasingly now, I realize they are the young ones, the idealists, and I have so much to learn from their perspectives. Still learning though, and every time it is a new thing, a different nuance, another flavor of difficult conversations.

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