Saturday, December 15, 2012

After yesterday's violence...

In the wee, small hours of the morning just before it's light, knowing others will have more well thought out conclusions, here's advice from a risk detective:

-Love your children completely. Be generous with your time and your own thoughts. Be fully present and prepared to explain yourself. You are their first teacher.

-By personal example and in discussion, make clear that life is a seri
es of choices between right and wrong, and that it is the grey areas we should be talking about most.

-Show them the world. My father had my sister and I reading at least the "People in the News" section of the Des Moines Register from the time we started school. Our reading expanded as we got older, and every night at the dinner table we discussed both the news and what we had done in school.

-Teach them how to make their own decisions. In those dinnertime discussions, my father also taught us how there were at least two sides to every question or issue, and that it was important to identify the "pros" and "cons" of every position. You could say that he grew his own conversationalists.

-To these pieces of advice, I think my husband would add "tell them many stories." You want them to know where they come from and have a rich range of references that include how and why decisions were made.

All this is to say that your job is not really to wield power, but rather to help a young child grow into themselves without making them afraid of the world outside their home. This is particularly difficult right now, when the natural tendency will be to pull back, to hold them close, to know that the world is often a scary place. But here is a place where the advice holds up -- listen to them and talk with them. Help them try to put this horrible event into context even as you are, yourself, trying to do so.

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