My daughter was eating breakfast, and I had the news on. They were reporting on the aftermath that happened in Charlottesville, and experts were commenting. The words hate, discrimination, racist, evil, and people kept swirling around our living room. As an adult, I was filtering out the opinions, listening to the facts, and sending prayer. What I didn’t realize was that my 6-year-old was taking in every….single….word.
She asked me what happened.
Now stop reading here and think to yourself, “What happened?” Just come up with an explanation in your head. I would struggle to explain it to an adult. And now, I have to provide an explanation that my child will hear and then be able to go finish her breakfast, put on her backpack, and hop on the bus to interact with friends and learn at school as her world was not just obliterated by my explanation.
I sat down with her, took her hands, and looked into her eyes.
“Baby, there are things that happen in this world that mommy cannot explain. But you and I have this wonderful thing called Faith. We wake up each day and try to be kind, give hugs, show gratitude, and care a lot. We do that and we have Faith that God will be there with us always. God was there in Charlottesville baby girl. Unfortunately, I do not think the person who hurt those people trusted that God was there. And sometimes, when you forget about Faith and forget about who truly loves you, you forget that we are all just people on this planet trying to be kind, give hugs, show gratitude, and care a lot.”
That was a lot of words for a little girl. She looked at me and said, “When people forget how much their friends love them and to be nice to everyone because you never know who is having a bad day, then a lot of people can get hurt.” Well said, my brilliant little girl.
It was not a conversation about race, religion, socioeconomic status, or who people voted for. She took it all in and came out with, “People should be nice to other people—no matter what.”
I cannot promise you that I handled it in the best way possible. Nor do I guarantee that I had the words to change the world. And I know that your conversation with your kids might look a lot different. The point is, have that conversation about what is going on in our communities and in our world—not to scare our kids, but to share with them that they have the power to be strong, kind, and incredible human beings and that they are the ones who are changing the world for the better with every hug, every smile, every kind word.
Hug them hard before they head out that door. Look them in the eye. And tell them how special and wonderful they are. If more kids knew how truly special and wonderful the world and people thought they were, I believe this world would look a whole lot different. God Bless.
P.S. I also found allowing her to write letters or draw pictures to the families was helpful for her to feel like she was doing something to help change the bad things that she heard happened.