Difficult Conversations

Talking honestly about what happened with George Floyd and the aftermath can be difficult, regardless if the conversation is with your child, friends, or family.

I feel fortunate to have a diverse set of friends who have been willing to engage in these conversations that have been uncomfortable but needed. Being honest, owning our truths, and experiences reminds me that with knowledge comes power, and together we can make our community and country better.

In addition to my friends near me, the pandemic has allowed me to talk to my best friends who live far away each week. It has been a blessing to be able to connect with them more often. Typically when we talk I go where I can have privacy and speak freely ‚ÄĒ after all our talks include discussions about our kids, and spouses. ūüėä As the issue of systemic racism, and the call for reform and an end to injustice and a need to address equality has gained traction the topic of discussion came up with my friends. I saw an opportunity to have a potentially uncomfortable conversation with them out in the open (having close friendships doesn‚Äôt mean you all think alike ‚ÄĒ true friendship allows for truths to be spoken, and vulnerability, and love for each other regardless), instead of going into a room and closing the door for privacy, I FaceTime‚Äôd with my friends without earbuds in my living room. My youngest son was on our computer in the kitchen. I felt like even if my son wasn‚Äôt fully listening to the conversation I needed to do it this way ‚ÄĒ out in the open not in private. I needed to show him there is value, bravery and strength when you speak from your heart, especially on topics like this. The fact that my friends are willing to listen, respect what i have to say, and still love me makes for wonderful and sustainable friendships. I treasure them.

Change will only happen if we are willing to talk (even when it might be uncomfortable), and really listen to each other.

How are you having these conversations? How are you modeling for or teaching your child how to have them?

Kids Choice – Dealing With Loss

When have you had to console your child when they experience loss and there is no way to soften the impact? It’s heart wrenching, right?

I had one of those moments on Tuesday night.¬†While I was shocked as the results were coming in (and trying to handle my confusion and intense disappointment as¬†discretely as I could), I wasn’t expecting my kids reaction. When I went to¬†tuck them in, my youngest asked me if Hillary won. I told him “it doesn’t look like it.” He got fear in his eyes. He started to cry in a way I’ve never seen. What he said next jarred me. He didn’t say, “Why?” or “How could this happen?” That would have been expected. Instead he said, “Oh my gosh. We’re going to go to war! The country is going to be so bad.” War? I thought. Where did that come from? He’s really scared to think we are going to war.¬†And how in the world did he grasp my own fears? That our country is taking a huge step backwards¬†for women and minorities, the¬†sick, the poor and mentally ill and all other marginalized groups.¬†My older son joined in the conversation, he was equally distressed. “Why can’t kids vote? We never would have let someone like him be President.” My son made a good point.

Children have a wonderful inability to filter themselves when they are young. And they have an even¬†greater ability to filter through BS. Politically correct is, well, not in their vocabulary. While there are certainly situations where¬†you can grimace as a parent for what your child said out loud, there is something very straightforward about their views.¬†They see things for what they truly are and convey them in black and white terms: you are nice, you are not nice; you are good, you are bad; etc. This ability came through¬†Tuesday night. “I hate that I’m not allowed to vote until I’m 18. That’s ridiculous. If you asked the kids, none of us would ever vote for someone who was so mean, hateful and a bully!” my oldest said. While there was a big part of me that wanted to join in and bash the results and those who voted for the other side, I could tell what my kids most needed was for someone to tell them that¬†everything is going to be okay, even though as their parent, and a woman, I’m not sure I believe it.

“It’s going to be okay. We’ll get through this,” I said. My youngest son didn’t buy it. He looked me in the eyes with that same terror pleading me to tell him I was kidding, or somehow the election results were going to turn out differently.¬† I didn’t know what else to do but to hug him. We were both experiencing a huge unexpected loss. We both felt the impact, and while they say time heals all wounds, this seems like a wound that will be opened for the next four years at a minimum.

I am grateful for educators at my kids school that brought the kids together to talk through the results and let the students voice their opinions to help them deal with their feelings. I am grateful for where I live and how people here are willing to stand up and say #notmypresident. And that many business leaders and local government officials have publicly said that won’t tolerate¬†discrimination and hate, and are trying to give grieving adults the same message I gave my boys — we’ll get through this somehow. We just¬†have to stick together.

Sometimes you can’t make sense of things, and sometimes you have to figure out how to make the best of a situation. I love the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “It is better to¬†light a candle than curse the darkness.” There feels like a lot of darkness right now and I, as a parent, need to figure out how to light a candle. I can’t let an election determine how my neighbors, or my kids classmates and their families are treated, we all are more alike than¬†different and we all have to figure out how to come together and work together. No more division, no more fear.

How do you console your child when you are in an inconsolable situation, regardless if its the loss of a loved one or the results of an election?  How are you helping your child when you are experiencing your own grief?