Charlottesville, VA, August 12, 2017 … Let’s not forget that date.
If you have been reading the news or watching the TV you’ve seen the events that happened in Charlottesville last weekend. I am not one for a lot of political commentary in my newsletters or blog posts but as a mother of two internationally adopted children and a professional coach, I am compelled to write a little bit about the situation, especially in terms of our kiddos.
When hooded KKK members, Nazis, and White Supremacists march down the streets of one of our cities, it makes me concerned for my children who are from Guatemala and China. I think we all probably have a little bit of fear regardless of where we live.
My family happens to be in Boulder, CO, a liberal enclave in a very independent state. I feel safe here and so do my children, most of the time. The Nazis and White Supremacists marched through our small town chanting horrible slogans and carrying atrocious signs a couple of months ago and it was shocking. Sadly, it got ugly in Boulder too. There were no physical altercations but the words that were spewed were awful and being a relatively small town, many children watched.
I don’t have all the answers but I’d like to begin a dialogue and more importantly, whether or not you think your children have seen the news, they have probably heard something about it from a friend, so it’s time to talk.
Here are my thoughts about that discussion:
- If we don’t start the conversation with our children and they hear about it, they often internalize the situation as being too scary to discuss. This is a time when we need to reassure our children that they are safe and that we are going to take care of them.
- When you talk to your child make sure you are age appropriate. Also, remember that hate is taught so choose your words carefully. I’m sure we all want our children to be kind, empathetic and understanding human beings and in order to impart this in a situation like what we saw in Charlottesville, refer to #3 below, that will make a big difference.
- Make sure you give your children historical context to frame the conversation. When discussing what happened in Charlottesville, you might want to talk about the civil rights and women’s movements. By giving the situation context you are able to talk about growth and progress – which is very reassuring. What you want to instill is a sense of hope for the future regardless of what is happening right now.
- Being honest is imperative. Tell them you are a little afraid too or that it makes you angry. Emotions are good and your children need to know you experience them too.
- Remember WE are the role models! This is about having a conversation not being Yoda. You don’t always have to be the wise sage, just talk to your kids, let them know how you feel and tell them you will always be there to talk, listen, help in any way you can.
- When you have any tough conversation, remember to bring your patience. It’s the beginning of the school year, there is a lot going on. When we are stressed we are not able to concentrate as fully as we otherwise would. They are in the same boat. Be patient, be kind, and talk. Sometimes kids just need to know we are there and that everything is going to be ok.
- Finally, hug your kids a lot more than usual. Times like these are difficult and the world can be an ugly place sometimes. We can’t always keep our children from hearing about or experiencing bad things that happen in the world but letting them know how much they are loved is salve for any wounded soul.
If you want to talk, know I’m here. I’m a mom of adopted kiddos like most of you. That’s my number one job; travel comes in a distant second!
Sending each of you and your beautiful children so much love right now,
All my best,
Bambi Wineland is the mother of two internationally adopted children, a traveler, a Certified Professional Coach and the Founder and CEO of Motherland Travel. Motherland Travel began by designing Heritage Journeys for families with internationally adopted children. The emphasis of those Heritage Journeys has always been on deepening family connections, building self-esteem and cultivating pride in a family’s multi-cultural heritage. Motherland Travel also uses the philosophies of transformative Travel for designing family trips with purpose – building rich connections, with each other and the world! Read more about her here >> http://motherlandtravel.com/