My fork hung, suspended in midair, as my son’s words rang out at the table last fall.
“Mom, does Donald Trump hate women?”
I’m pretty sure I grabbed my water glass or took another bite to give myself a few precious seconds to gather my thoughts. The biggest of which was, who had he been talking to? Where was he getting this info? And most importantly, what do I say next?
Talking with Your Kids About the News
It would be great to just pretend that our kids are blissfully unaware of the hard things that are happening in the world around them. Maybe they won’t read the headline on the TV channel or overhear that adult discussion about the latest crisis.
But even if we think we’re keeping those things from our kids, I promise they’re still listening. They’re still hearing snippets of conversation on the playground and watching adults react.
It turns out my son had heard something at school and, as reliable as the 1st grade gossip chain can be, I realized we hadn’t been talking about the headlines in our house in a way that included my kiddo. I needed a way to introduce tough topics without scarring or ignoring my child.
How to Discuss The News with Your Kids?
Part of my value system as a parent is not to hide hard things from my kids but to walk through them in a developmentally appropriate way. So, we’re trying to take that same approach with discussing the headlines in our house. For us that looks like having open discussions and proactively introducing ideas that we want to expose our kids to.
It also means keeping some things that aren’t developmentally appropriate off the table or at least handling them in a way that fits with how their brain is developing. (PBS Kids Child Development Tracker has some helpful resources for this).
The way we talk about these tough topics with our kids informs how they’ll respond and react. They’re not fun conversations, but they are life-giving and hopeful when we see our kids begin to make sense of difficult and complex issues and I often find myself learning just as much as my kids are.
My guess is that you won’t have to wait very long for another tough topic to come up. Whether it’s a political event, a social justice issue, or a natural disaster, our headlines don’t seem to be getting any easier these days, but hopefully these questions give you a starting place for walking alongside your kids in these important conversations.
10 Questions to Start Conversations With Your Kids About Tough Topics in the News
Grab your own free Printable Copy of 10 Questions to Start Conversations With Your Kids About Tough Topics in the News right here!
So, have we avoided all awkward political discussions at the dinner table? Nope, my kids still sometimes have off-the-wall questions (and you better believe they’ll pick the large family dinner with all the grandparents to ask them), but these questions have helped us navigate today’s headlines with a little bit of foresight and I’m more prepared to proactively introduce a topic they might hear about so that I’m shaping the conversation, not the playground rumor mill.
What’s the hardest news topic to discuss with your kids? What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to having these conversations with your kids? Leave a comment below.