When is it the right time to expose your kids to the current state of our world?
This last weekend I went to the Women’s March. It was really fun, but one thing stood out to me: the number of young kids around. It is a good thing for kids to learn about the world around them and to understand what is going on, but to what extent?
I couldn’t help but wonder how much their parents told them about the world. Do these children know that the president of the United States is threatening nuclear war through a social media website? Do they know that the current president thinks all Mexican immigrants are bringing drugs and Muslims are terrorists?
If I were to be raising children today, I would make sure that they stayed away from the current politics. I would teach my children the basics of what is going on, who the president is, what the government does and what it is currently doing (like the tax bill), but not about the hate spewing out tweet by tweet from the White House. I would try to raise them to know that everyone is equal and not to learn that some people are treated as lesser because of the things they cannot change. This would limit some conversations, for example, I would not talk to a young child about the Muslim Ban because it would open up the conversation about why people would feel afraid of large groups of people and I believe that it could change their views of how other people should be treated. I would hope that my children grow up learning the golden rule, to treat others how you want to be treated, and not question that everyone else will be doing the same.
It has to be so hard for young parents to navigate raising a child in this world because there is a desire to create good leaders. We need people to educate their children, but I fear that too much exposure to world events could scare them into only seeing the negatives in humanity.
I was lucky enough to be raised to see the good in the world, despite growing up in a world that was (and still is) struggling with so much hatred toward certain groups. I grew up around my dad’s childhood best friend — a very tall, gay, black man with no one ever thinking twice about it. I never learned that the guy who brought his giant dog around was in constant danger of being shot by hateful people because he “looked threatening.” I was never taught that the government could take away my rights as a human being. I was never taught that my friends could be deported, nor taught that religion could be the basis for hate of others.
I was one year old when 9/11 happened. My parents told me that the world is scary, but to love the people around me and not focus on those who are out there in the world.
I saw a sign yesterday on a stroller that was shaped like a quote, and it said “why the bad man not in jail?” If the tiny child actually asked that question, I am concerned for that child’s future. If they are learning about the actions the “bad man” has taken, their initial knowledge of the government will be that they hurt people, not that the government is there to protect us and our rights. They will grow up fearing the nation that has tried so hard to keep them safe.
The children who were born today will face a lot of challenges in their lives, but teaching them to love each other and support each other is the best shot we have at creating a better world for them. Teach them what is going on in the world, but with extreme moderation. Teach them that gay marriage was legalized, not that bakeries still refuse to make wedding cakes for them.