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Friday
Jan282011

Bedtime Stories of Lightness and Darkness

I’m away at the Blissdom Conference this week and decided to use the opportunity to feature some fabulous guest posts from bloggers I love. This one, by Kelly from KellyNaturally.com shares a story about talking to your kids about difficult topics.


~~~~~

Mom, have you ever been to Mexico?

Yes, Daddy and I have been before.

Is it cool?

Yes, it’s awesome.

Can we go to Mexico, Mom?

Someday, I hope we can go back to visit.

Soon! On our next vacation?

No, probably not that soon.



Why not?

Well, Mexico is having some difficulties right now.

What kind of difficulties?

(Hmmmmmm... this isn't going where I'd like)



Their president is working to make it a safe place for people to visit.

Why isn’t it a safe place?

Because... there are people there doing bad things.

What kind of things?

(Okay... drugs, kidnapping, murder... not good bedtime stories. Think quickly...)



Things that make it unsafe to be there.

How can the president make it safe?

He's making sure there are a lot of police and armies to help protect people.

How do police protect people?

They keep them safe.

How?

(How... yes, how? How DO police and armies keep people safe? The threat of violence... How do I say this?)



Well, they have guns.



How do gunds keep people safe? (Yes, they said it with a “d” at the end; and no, I didn’t correct them.)

Police use guns to... keep other people from using guns.

How?

Well if a person wanted to use a gun to hurt someone and he saw a police with a gun, he might choose not to use the gun.

Because he would get shotted?

Yes.

Mom?

Yes?

Are police good people?



Yes.

But they have gunds.

Yes.

But they don't use them to hurt people.

Right.

Why do people do bad things?

(Why... oh, why? I just don't even know.)



Most people don't do bad things.  Most people are good people, baby.

Mom… are WE good people?

Yes, love. We are good people.

And the president will make Mexico safe.

Yes. Maybe we can help by sending some positive peaceful energy to Mexico.  Let's do that, okay?

Okay.

(We all breathe deep, sending out our energy, and they fade off to sleep… and I stay, hoping their dreams are of the lightness, not the darkness.)



And so it goes: my children’s introduction to gun violence, “bad people”, and other things that chip away slowly at their innocence. As this innocence ekes away, just a tiny bit each day, I often think to myself – what can I say to keep them naïve? I know I can't really keep them completely in the dark --- that I shouldn't. Yet I fear telling them too much. But I also fear not telling them enough. I fear, too, because… I just don’t know the answers to all of their questions, like WHY are people bad? ARE people bad? Are people good? They should know - if they're asking, they should have an answer, right? My husband says sometimes people just make poor choices to do bad things. I like that answer. It’s empowering, without making judgment.  He's good at that.  But oh, these bad things, these bad people; it picks at me, wears on me. I want to keep my children protected, safe, shield them from the bad.  But in protecting them, I’d be keeping them from the good, too.

So, I tell them the bad to empower them: to help them learn how to make good choices; to help them learn to help others on their paths to goodness and peacefulness and justness; to help them understand the very real possibility of righteousness and peacefulness and light in us all. These things – lightness AND darkness – are all the things that make us imperfect, and make us amazing, and make us wonder – all us humans – at what we are and what we're doing here.  My children seem to understand it and accept it – the juxtaposition of light and dark – and so… I keep answering, even if my answers aren’t the most perfect. And so I hold tight to the fact that in giving them a little bad, I’m giving them a lot of good too.

Kelly is an advocate for peaceful parenting. She can be found blogging at KellyNaturally.comNaturalParentsNetwork.com.

Image credit: William Brawley on flickr

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Reader Comments (23)

Poignant, all too real post, Kelly. I, too, think about the future questions that will be posed by my little girls. I hope i answer them as honestly and delicately as you!

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaminottawa

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by phdinparenting, Stephanie, Jennifer Jackson, Bernadette, Angella Martin and others. Angella Martin said: PhD Recommends - Bedtime Stories of Lightness and Darkness: I’m away at the Blissdom Conference thi... http://bit.ly/h5iOhr #parenting [...]

I remember very well when someone smashes some car windows outside my daughter's daycare, in order to steal the change inside. It opened a lot of hard questions for me. It's important to have those discussions, but more than a little sad, too. You're watching your child lose their innocence, and it's painful, even if it is a necessary part of growing up.

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

Kelly, while I admire you as a person and a mom, and enjoy your blog, this is not one of your stronger pieces. To be honest, I think you are missing a huge point here, and to those of us whose families have been profoundly affected by political turmoil, it is a bit simplistic and even insulting.

You and your family are exceptionally privileged to be so removed from danger that it can be a bedtime story, a game of comparative morals and semantics. I understand the desire to keep your children innocent, but it reminds me of the story a (white) friend told about her daughter. The little girl saw a black man on TV, and said "Look mama! He's a president too!" My friend was proud of her daughter for this line of thought, and when it was brought up that her daughter was making a racial stereotype, she responded "Oh, we don't really talk about race- I don't want her beautiful mind polluted with hurtful knowledge. We talk about how we're all the same no matter what color skin we have instead."

Because my children were not born so privileged, our discussions are different. I do keep it as simple and straightforward as possible, but even at first grade and preschool levels, we have talked about the daily life for children in Afghanistan, what happened in the Holocaust, and why their grandparents were forced to flee their homeland. They have a broad understanding of how complex the world is, and that "good" and "bad" are not absolutes- even good people can be forced to do things that would be considered "bad" (e.g. a police officer shooting a suspect in the leg if the person is threatening the officer).

It is my fervent hope that by not sheltering my children, they will grow up with compassion and understanding, and work to make life better both for those suffering under dictatorships abroad and those living in poverty and oppression in our own country. I choose imparting wisdom over preserving innocence, and I strive to empower my children with the tools to create change.

January 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteranon

 I appreciate your comment, though I'm not sure why you felt the need to remain anonymous. Regardless, I'll try to respond to your thoughts.

The discussion conveyed through this blog post did indeed take place in bed, in the dark, to a a six year old AND a three year old. I did not at the time see it as an appropriate moment to go into deep discussions about the awful realities of the world. 

In differing circumstances, say, a recent daytime conversation with my six year old (only), after a lesson she had in school on Dr Martin Luther King, we discussed race, the unfair and terrible ways people who were not white were treated and are still treated and how Dr King was assassinated for his belief that all people deserved to be treated equally. 

I too choose to impart wisdom over preserving innocence - when appropriate. But there is a time
 & place for all discussions. The details of the political turmoil and violence in Mexico just isn't 
appropriate bedtime fodder for a child not old enough yet to tie his own shoe. My goal as a 
parent isn't brutal honesty no holds barred. I tried to make that point with this paragraph: 
"I tell them the bad to empower them: to help them learn how to make good choices; to help them learn to help others on their paths to goodness and peacefulness and justness; to help them understand the very real possibility of righteousness and peacefulness and light in us all. These things – lightness AND darkness – are all the things that make us imperfect, and make us amazing, and make us wonder – all us humans – at what we are and what we’re doing here. "

I acknowledge and am grateful that I DO have the choice about when & where & how to have 
these discussions with my children, and that many people do not have that luxury. 

I don't think it's fair, however to assume from one late-night conversation that we strive to keep all complex issues from our children, as that isn't the case.

January 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkelly @kellynaturally

As my son is only two years old, such questions as these have not yet come up. And I'm glad that you wrote this post, because I realize that the questions I've been dreading haven't been about good and bad so much as about birth and death. It may be because I struggle with the good and bad in myself on a daily basis, whereas for us right now, questions of birth and death are not immediately present in our daily lives. Also, as a lapsed Catholic, I don't have a comforting story to tell about heaven.

January 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRachael

anon:

I am privileged that my children do not see and experience turmoil or oppression every day. I do feel that it is important to teach them about their privilege and to teach them about the things that are happening in the world. However, I do have the luxury of deciding when they will learn that.

I wrote a bit about that in this post:

http://www.phdinparenting.com/2010/05/11/zuge-in-das-leben-%E2%80%93-zuge-in-den-tod-trains-to-life-trains-to-death/

I have taken my children to the War Museum in Canada. I have taken them to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin (several weeks after I wrote the above post and once I'd had time to decide how to explain the Holocaust to children their age). My 6 year old has learned about the current war in Afghanistan, but my 3 year old has not. My children know about the earthquake in Haiti and the aftermath. Their uncle is a police officer and he has told them a bit about his job and the circumstances under which he sometimes has to arrest people. We've been to exhibits where they learned what one family eats in a week in different locations around the world. They have seen my husband's pictures from his trip to Burkina Faso a few years ago and we do plan to take the children to Africa one day too.

I teach them about difficult things when I feel that they are ready and when I have had the time to think about it. At bedtime in the dark when random questions pop up is not always the best time, so I might seek simpler answers like Kelly at the time and then think about a better and more in depth way to explain things to them another time. I do recognize that being able to choose the time, place and manner in which I share things with my children is a privilege. However, it doesn't mean that I am sheltering them.

January 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I agree with the anonymous poster that this conversation tended a little towards over-sheltering, though the clarification in the comments makes perfect sense: if we are privileged enough to be able to choose the time and place that we share the world's realities with our children, we should certainly do so judiciously, as Kelly did.
I find that kids can often handle upsetting stuff with a lot more equanimity than we expect -they are just beginning to learn about the world and so they don't know to be shocked a horrified by the really bad stuff. To give a silly example, my four year old and I were discussing yesterday which animals eat people. He was genuinely curious and interested to hear about Boa Constrictors and sharks, and also to know that huge animals like elephants don't. To him this conversation wasn't horrifying and gross, as it kind of was to me - it was just finding out interesting stuff about the world.

January 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChanna

I don't see what is so wrong about mildly sheltering small children from topics like the reality of violence and the vast unfairness of the world we live in. They will spend a long lifetime watching the horrors and injustices that unfold in their own lives and in the media. A few years of ignorant childhood bliss sounds like a gift, not a tragedy or a "privileged" parents indulgence. When they have questions - of COURSE I agree with educating and truthfully imparting wisdom... but I don't see room for criticism of Kelly's piece. It's her kids and she talked to her kids the way she felt was appropriate for their age.

January 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

kelly, i love this post because it appropriately details the kind of conversation that i too would have with my daughters aged 2&5 [soon to be 3&6] should they ask.

in fact, my 5 year old has asked questions about guns, and violence and bad people, and i'd like to think that i give her the kind of age-appropriate responses that i am comfortable with.

personally speaking i am not "good" at explaining violence, i don't watch much tv. i abhor horror and gratuitous violence and i don't find physical violence humourous or entertaining. i close my eyes and ears when i see or hear of despicable violent acts, and i know that i am sometimes alone in my reaction. i am also not so naive as to think that these things will "go away" because i choose not to focus on them, or explain them, or 'educate' my daughters about them.

the reality is i don't feel that i should 'alter' their innocence or change their 'world view' until they are actually ready for it. i don't believe in sheltering my girls unnecessarily, but their lives are [not yet] filled with violence or negativity so, at present, i feel there is no point in 'subjecting' them to something that they may never come in contact with. we do indeed talk abt people from other parts of the world, and what children from different cultures may experience that is vastly different from theirs. We discuss how they are fortunate, blessed and lucky that they have ABC, however issues concerning violence are not the topic du jour at our home.

at my eldest’s Montessori school they stage a yearly multi-cultural day where for a few weeks they study the customs and practices of countries different from their own and learn a new language, dress up in traditional garb, eat food and recite phrases and songs that reflect the culture.

yes it is most definitely a privilege to have never experienced violence, poverty and the like, and i agree that to be forearmed is to be forewarned but i would never suggest that it is "privilege" that keeps me from discussing violence with my 5 year old; rather at her age—and for my purposes as her parent and guardian, i think it is common sense.

cheers, xobolaji

January 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbolaji williams

Kelly, I appreciate the clarification. I too try to avoid these types of conversations before bedtime.

I want to clarify that what bothers me most about your post is the oversimplification of "bad", and that as a parent, I do not view what I teach as "giving my kids a little of the bad". My children do not know the meanings of the words rape, massacre, or assassination. I keep our discussions as age-appropriate and relevant as possible, and apply what they know from their own lives to help understand the world. If my 3 year old posed the same question as yours, I would take an entirely different approach, and guide the conversation in a much more positive manner.

I don't consider people fighting for their homes and the chance to shape their own destinies as "bad". I won't simplify the complexities of life into a pair of opposites. I strongly believe in anti-violent solutions, but I cannot condemn the oppressed for fighting for their lives and families.

So I try to show them how their behavior, such as a squabble over a toy, is analogous (yes, a simplification!) to land struggles around the globe. How everyone wants a safe home to live in and enough food to eat, and when they don't have those things, people are sad and hungry and angry.

I'm at a loss where you say you tell your son that the police use guns to keep people safe, though I appreciate your honesty in reporting the conversation. I think there are so many positive aspects that you could chose to focus on instead- and failing that, simply asking your son what he feels the police do to keep us safe. I'm truly saddened you feel that police and armies equal violence. Through my military family and friends, I have learned about the many good deeds our armed forces do at home and abroad. Yes, I strongly believe the US (and many Western countries) have done much harm and been involved in too many unjust wars that have claimed the lives of innocents around the globe, but I respect those in uniform and do not assume the worst.

Annie, thank you for weighing in. I appreciate it, and have respect for the sensitivity and thoroughness with which you educate your children.

Kathy, you mention the media. While I am not including you or anyone else in this observation (especially Kelly or Annie, who have stated their views on TV/media), I find it highly ironic that many of those who are so quick to champion children's "innocence" are the ones with the evening news on at dinnertime, or watching Lord of the Rings with their children. It's considered perfectly acceptable to expose your children to these types of images (and yes, before bed even!), yet in order to preserve their "innocence" you aren't supposed to talk about "bad" things. My children have no TV, and watch very few movies. You could say I shelter them from those images that will give them nightmares. But to shelter them from their family history would be an insult and a dishonor to those who fought

As for the choice to remain anonymous, I will say in my years as an anti-racist advocate I have found that, when reminded of their own privilege, people tend to become defensive. It's hard enough to accept the losses my children have and will experience without the hurt of random strangers (or worse, friends). Do you know how rare it is for someone to look you straight in the eye and say, "Tell me, I want to understand"?

My question is, do you want to understand? Or do you prefer not simply to keep your children "innocent", but yourself as well, because it is too difficult or painful for you to process? Am I the only one reading here who has held her sobbing children while the police sit at the dining table, calmly taking a break-in report whose stolen goods list includes their toys? The only one who worries that, because of their skin color, my children are at greater risk of being stopped, accused of crimes, and (should they be guilty), punished more severely?

If I am, then I will sincerely apologize for intruding on a conversation that was not meant to include my family, and move on.

January 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteranon

Such a vexed question - how to discuss the realities of life and violence with young children. I don't have any great wisdom to offer in general terms, except that I agree with several others above that before bedtime is not my preferred time of day to take on the potentially scary issues.

I am very possibly misreading you, Anon, and if I am, I beg your pardon in advance. But one thing that leapt out at me from your comments is that the very ability to make measured decisions about discussing violence with children is in itself a privilege and one that usually attaches to people who are privileged in their society. (Sometimes the force of events thrust those discussions, and that knowledge, onto even privileged people at times and in ways not of their choosing, though. I am a white middle-class heterosexual married Australian woman - for which read, pretty privileged by any measure - but my own need to talk to my young daughters about violence arose because of an event which involved all of us. The violence wasn't systemically directed at us, of course, but it affected us and hurt us nonetheless).

Actually, I think awareness of position is a really valid point and one that it's important to keep in mind when talking about violence with children. I also would tend to say, similarly to Kelly's husband does, that people do the things they do for a lot of reasons, sometimes ones that don't make sense to us because we are not in that person's shoes, but that violence is a destructive answer to almost all questions. We also talk about the situations of people who commit violent actions. I tend not to do the good-bad thing too much but I have sometimes, because I'm not always ready with a quick response.

January 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

Thanks for sharing this. It is hard to explain to children the various dangers in the world to which they are not exposed.
I think that to an extent, as the child seems old enough to begin to grasp at more complex ideas, they need to be presented. For instance, I've always been more candid with my daughter regarding drugs and alcohol, at a younger age, than I would have ever thought I would be. This is because I have seen too many parents refuse to mention it and leave it to the schools, by which point the children don't know their parents views on the topic and are forming their own based on the words of their friends.
As for violence and safety, I have always struggled with these topics. When I was 7, my second grade class was talking about rape, getting shot, stabbed, and "beat up" as though it was the norm. I didn't know what that first word meant, but it sure sounded unpleasant, and I would lay awake at night worrying about the safety of my classmates and then wonder about my own security going to school in the neighborhood where these words were regular conversation, not only amongst peers, but with the teacher.
It's difficult to talk to children about risks without over simplifying, but it's also difficult to remember their youth and not be over specific.

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterslee

anon:

This conversation is not limited to any specific family, although the implications of it may be different for different families. Sometimes we have to tackle difficult discussions as they come up with our children (because of things that happen to us or because of things that we observe) and sometimes we have the luxury to wait for the right time. I am glad that you took the time to share your perspective and experience here.

I love what you have expressed here:


I don’t consider people fighting for their homes and the chance to shape their own destinies as “bad”. I won’t simplify the complexities of life into a pair of opposites. I strongly believe in anti-violent solutions, but I cannot condemn the oppressed for fighting for their lives and families.

So I try to show them how their behavior, such as a squabble over a toy, is analogous (yes, a simplification!) to land struggles around the globe. How everyone wants a safe home to live in and enough food to eat, and when they don’t have those things, people are sad and hungry and angry.

These are great examples and I will try to remember them as I talk to my children.

With regards to media, I do try to keep my children from seeing things that I think will be too much for them. However, I don't shelter them from everything. Last year, after we had already had several discussions about Haiti, I did show them the pictures in the newspaper one morning. It wasn't pleasant, but I thought it was something my kids were ready to see. On the other hand, when I was visiting the Film and Television museum in Berlin last year with my children, I was fully unprepared for my son to see images of the airplane flying into the World Trade Center on 9/11 (part of the exhibit on "current events" was showing clips of some of the most newsworthy events in television history). So, sometimes they see the images before I have the opportunity to talk to them and I have to find the words to explain it afterward.

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Wow! Some really thoughtful comments that give me a lot to think about. I appreciate the original post as it very accurately depicted what many times have transpired in my own home. Sometimes I do really well explaining the tough subjects, but other times I am just at a lose of words. After, I rethink the conversation and think, "I should have said this...."

Recently I read a book to my daughter (3.5yo) and the little girl in the book had to say good-bye to her dad going to war. Of course this prompted the question, "What is war." Such a difficult question because there are always two sides to the story and war is very political. I did give an answer that satisfied her, and I don't feel like I "white-washed" it to much, but I still struggle with the idea that I oversimplified things because I can.

What a great discussion.

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCassie

I really appreciate reading this, at least because I know I'm not alone. I try not to shelter our five-year-old twins too much, but I also struggle to find language that will be meaningful for them. I don't want them to be afraid of the world, but I also don't want them to be too naive, especially since they encounter the world more and more each day.

Like Cassie, the discussion of war came up recently, as did a discussion of Egypt and Tunisia. That was tough, though they loved the geography lesson.

Partially related to the nature of light and dark is the question of G-d and religion in our house. It's already complicated for me, as an educated adult (maybe the educated part is why it's complicated), and so when questions of G-d or religion come up, I am often at a loss. Most of the time, these questions come up from simple expressions that I say unconsciously and I try not to simply ignore the questions. It can really be vexing.

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJacob

I love Nancy Carlsson-Paige's book "Taking Back Childhood" and one of the reasons that I do is that she equips parents with ways to tackle these tough conversations. Her professional opinions are grounded firmly in child development principles. She provides a terrific chapter outlining child development so that we can better talk to our "audience," so to speak. So whether, like Kelly, your discussions of violence are in the abstract (a faraway place like Mexico) or like anon, something that hits them daily, Carlsson-Paige discusses ways of handling the conversations and inviting therapuetic play, to help the children cope with what they are experiencing. Because whether you are Kelly or anon, your kids can experience anxiety from exposure to violence of the idea of violence. Highly recommended reading for all parents, IMO.

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristine

I have been thinking about this post because the conversation as recorded bothered me. I think this conversation bothered me because the mom did not actually explain what the problem was in Mexico. I think a proper explanation would have been a more straightforward way of answering the question and would not necessarily have meant not protecting them. All in all, I think kids can handle the truth when doled out simply and without judgement and when we answer the question fully without avoiding the question.

I have also realised that, of course, how we approach a conversation like this with our kid(s) depends on our own life experiences and understanding of the issues, just like with everything else. I have lived through an internal conflict and in my paid job I am an analyst of international security and so personally, I would not have referred to the President making it a safer place (because his tactics have important criticisms and he is not alone in fighting organised crime and violence), I would not have talked about how police use guns to keep people safe (huh?), nor would I have said that police are good people (my kids themselves have seen by happenstance, police officers manhandle a homeless person for no good reason, and a talk about that ensued).

February 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarla

I'd like to make clear that my story was intended to convey the idea of just how difficult it can be as a parent to be presented with challenging questions on tough topics at inopportune times by young children.

It was NOT intended to be an in-depth analysis of international politics, an assertion of my political views, nor a statement on gun laws, police brutality, war, oppression, race, or the military.

Within the context of a tired mother answering her tired children's questions in bed at night, I was simply recognizing that sometimes - often - I just don't have all the answers that my children seek. And even if I do, I'm not always sure how to explain it to them so that they understand that life isn't always light - yet, we needn't fear the darkness.

As to the police/guns reference, which has been brought up a couple of times in these comments, I feel a need to clarify: After I mentioned the word police to my children, the conversation immediately sidetracked to a discussion of guns (as my children have seen police officers in person - my own cousin is a police officer - and children are naturally fascinated, as people other than police don't typically carry visible guns). I didn't feel it necessary to the point of my story to include the entire side conversation, so I didn't. Instead, I jumped from:

"He’s making sure there are a lot of police and armies to help protect people.

How do police protect people?

They keep them safe.

How?"

(INSERT CONVERSATION ABOUT GUNS AND POLICE OFFICERS AND WHAT ARE GUNS FOR AND WHO HAS GUNS AND WHAT ARE GUNS ARE DO PEOPLE USE GUNS TO SHOOT PEOPLE AND ANIMALS AND DO GUNS HURT DO GUNS MAKE THINGS DEAD AND WHY AND HOW AND WHERE AND WHEN...)

to:

"Well, they have guns.

How do gunds keep people safe?"

- - - - - -

I hope this provides some more clarity.

-kelly

February 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkelly @kellynaturally

yes! this is great, kelly.

i totally appreciate your clarifying some of the issues that were raised in your post. and i'm actually surprised that some commenters have taken it as far as suggesting that there is something untoward, or politically motivated in your post. i think that what you posted is a true, and simple, and quite frankly an honest account of what may or may not transpire in a home with toddlers, preschoolers, or what have you, at the END of the day. i think the fact that this conversation was indeed a conversation that took place when a parent's arsenal is depleted [forgive the unfortunate metaphor] is very revealing.

naturally we are the sum total of our experiences and more. naturally some of us will approach things in different ways depending on our life circumstances. i haven't had this particular conversation with my own two daughters as yet, but what has transpired on this post to date will certainly make me more [self] conscious of what i do actually say.

oh, and just let me add that my curious 5 year old is now asking questions about god. this is not as difficult as i thought it could potentially be because as a departure point my husband and i discuss what we believe. we have then told her what other people believe which may or may not align with our beliefs. so far so good. i actually feel pretty good that she knows she has options. and that she has to trust herself and whatever system of belief that she endeavours to follow.

cheers to all moms, dads, parents and care-givers for doing their very best!
xobolaji

February 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbolaji williams

This does provide clarity. I was about to ask you why you said "gun violence" and not "violence," as if other kinds of violence were somehow different if the people used different tools.

bookmoth

February 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbookmoth

I'm sorry but does anyone actually condone discussing police brutality with a 6 year old?

I think the criticisms of this post have gone waaaaaaaay too far. Honestly way too far.

This reminds me of my experience in the early 1990s when I was a part of the women's movement in my city and in my university community. Women constantly criticizing one an other, judging, forcing people to feel ashamed of any sort of privilege. This kind of infighting in the women's movement went on so tirelessly that women became afraid to say anything. So everyone stopped learning and stopped sharing. I hope you dont do that here.

That post was honest and interesting and seems to me like it was intended to have us all ask ourselves the question of how we handle difficult topics with our children. For me it has been sad to read all of the negative commentary.

February 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkimberley

It is so incredibly important to model the importance of getting away from dualism. I think that when children are young, they very much do gravitate toward the Big Ideas (often framed and conceptualized in opposition, i.e. good/bad; black/white; boy/girl). However typical this is, it equally important to support their apprecition for the many gray truths between by framing their thinking through leading questions.

One way in our home that we attempt to push back against dualistic ideology is through answering questions with questions. For example, when my son wants to know in a story who is which character ("Who is Tommy")- rather than simply replying: "The one with the short hair, ball cap and black shorts, of course" we say, "I'm not sure. What do you think?" Does this always lead to major break-throughs in 'genderiization'- no. But, it does allow me to feel as though we are respecting the nature of all that's gray truths and beautiful realities in between.

What an incredible thought provoking share- so great that I have been carrying these ideas around in my mind since someone else broached the topic of dualism to me just last Sunday. Wonderful to have someone connect the discussion to parenting.

Brilliant beginning to a wonderful discussion.

February 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrynn

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