DALLAS — Talking to your kids about what’s going on in the world looks different for each family. Counselors, psychologists, and even some teachers say it’s better to come up with a strategy than to avoid a conversation altogether, especially in the political climate we’re in.
A new president is leading our country. The transfer of power is complete, but are we done with the civil unrest? Officials within the Crowley Independent School District aren’t so sure, so they are making the call to have more police officers around schools. Adults have their way of processing politics, but what about the kids?
“From sex, to drugs, to rock and roll. It’s the same thing when we’re in a war with another country. They already know, so you start talking,” said Elizabeth Shrivner, a child counselor in Dallas.
Shrivner says you can try to shelter different topics from your kids, but politics might be one of the hardest subjects to avoid. Her days are spent talking to children in scheduled sessions through Zoom calls about life, emotions, family, and school. She is seeing the focus of those conversations change to be more about politics as kids try to process what’s going on.
"I can promise you if you’re not talking to them, someone is,” she added.
A group of Dallas area college and high school students who are members of a group called Young Leaders, Strong City created a safe space over the internet to talk about race, democracy, social injustice, and the recent attack at the country’s capitol.
“We need to have a discussion about what happened at the Capitol because there’s a lot to unpack there,” one student said during the Zoom call.
“I think that’s really crazy,” another followed.
These are engaging conversations that help these students work through any emotions tied to all the information and images they take in every day. When talking is not enough, they’re deciding how to become civically and politically involved so they can try and make a difference.
“Before, people had a choice of saying, ‘I’m not really political.’ I feel like now, there is no choice. People are being killed. The environment is in a downward spiral,” one student mention.
Shrivner says the students have the right idea. Her advice is for parents is to jump in on these conversations. That way, they can better connect with their children, even if the political beliefs are different.
“Basically, not everyone agrees. I think of it as being at the table at Thanksgiving,” Shrivner added.
She says talk for understanding, not to be right or dismissive. Shrivner says crossing over history lessons that are taught in school into the home is the best way to make sure kids aren’t bottling up feelings or questions.