Is the news getting you down lately? Here’s clever a trick! Use today’s bad news to bring about positive results in your family relationships.
At your next sit down meal mention something that’s causing you concern from current news/events and ask your kids if they know anything about it. Let them respond in their own words, then see where the discussion leads. You may be surprised how many topics you will cover with one news story.
The fact is, any time you can have an honest and frank discussion with your kids, regardless of the topic, you are building bonds and strengthening your relationship with them. These are the bonds that will make tackling any tough subject down the road easier to manage, including sexual intimacy and pornography.
Note: Not all news is bad. Be sure to scroll to the end of this post for a couple of victories in the fight against pornography.
Interestingly, when I became a parent, my first instinct was to shelter our young children from every bit of bad news that spread through the media. I was vigilant about changing radio stations to avoid uncomfortable headlines. I could never quite decide how much information was too much for the young ears in the back seat, so I chose instead to err on the side of caution.
In reality children, along with adults, live in a world that includes war, racism, terrorism, murder, abuse, pornography and more. Wow! Heavy stuff! How do you help your kids understand the world they live in without spoiling their innocence? And should you even try?
I am not suggesting we live 24/7 as if we are on the 6 pm news. There’s a lot garbage and a lot of tragedy that could overwhelm young minds. My intentions, as a young mom, to protect my children were good, yet my approach was misguided.
In an attempt to spare my children from the graphic details of the news, I shunned the tough subjects altogether. Inadvertently, I was teaching my kids that there were things we weren’t to talk about in our family.
Can you imagine? Wait! This was not the message I intended to send!
Probably the first indication I was missing the mark was when I picked up my oldest son one day from school and his 2nd grade teacher informed me he had burst into tears during a classroom discussion. Perhaps they were talking about a major earthquake in India or that year’s version of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Whatever the subject, it involved casualty and death and my 7-year-old had an emotional meltdown. His young teacher was caught off guard and was very apologetic when I picked him up at the end of the day.
While I was pleased to know that my son was fully sensitive to the value of human life, the experience helped me understand that I was also responsible to prepare my children to be faced with hard things, and I couldn’t always control when, where or what traumatic event might happen. This time the experience was quite harmless —even cute. It occurred in a safe environment with a trusted adult on alert to tell me how my son had responded. What if another time the trauma occurs at a friend’s house and the content they stumble upon is anime porn, with no one there to shut it down, and no one to let me know?
Understanding how to respond to upsetting and disturbing information can be taught. Just as understanding how to recognize and reject pornography can be taught. In part, it’s about creating a safe place to talk about uncomfortable subjects.
Fast forward in time. Our youngest has now completed Grade 2. During dinner we asked all our children to tell us what they knew about the police shootings in Dallas —a tragic story with many complicated layers. Together we discussed fear, racism, history, and the need for change. We discussed how those changes could possibly come about. It was an experience that drew us closer together as a family.
I now understand it is better for children to learn about sensitive subjects at home than to risk their being blindsided with traumatic information away from mom or dad. I still want to protect my kids, but now instead of putting my energies into creating a protective bubble, I try to work at a relationship level. I try to create a place where my kids feel they could come to me about any subject or problem.
The other day I came across a great video conversation with Jill Manning (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist). She confirms that there is power in sharing with young people how you personally feel about something you saw or heard in the media and then asking their opinion of it. Manning says that by introducing relevant topics in the home, even when they may seem uncomfortable, you are showing your children that your family and home is a safe place where anyone can talk about things that may be confusing or troubling. She says, you want kids to know that it’s okay to lay the hard subjects out on the table and discuss them as a group.
So, if you are like me and you break into a nervous sweat every time your children are confronted with sensitive topics over the radio, on a magazine rack or in live video footage, remember that you can turn the negative into a positive experience by facing it head on. If we want our children to know they can talk to us about anything, a good place to start may just be the daily news.
The Good News Is …
USA: MacDonald and Starbucks to block porn on free Wi-Fi http://www.angelusnews.com/articles/why-starbucks-and-mcdonald-s-are-blocking-porn-from-their-wifi
Global: Google searches for Pokémon Go exceed that of porn http://fightthenewdrug.org/pokemon-go-is-more-popular-than-internet-porn/
Photo credits: Christian Schnettelker- Flikr
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