Always tell the truth. That is what we tell our kiddos isn’t it? Be honest and open and don’t lie. Lies hurt people….sometimes lies hurt ourselves. So why is it that so often a double standard exists? We hide from our kiddos the bad stuff. The difficult to explain stuff. The stuff we do not agree with. We shield them from the things in the world that are controversial…..the things that we, as parents, don’t want to deal with questions about. I mean, don’t we get enough questions every day as it is?
“Mom, are we there yet?”
“What’s for dinner?”
“Where is my night-night/ball/truck/book/hamster/etc???”
“Mom, when I grow up can I marry whoever I want?”
WHOA…..hold up. Wasn’t prepared for that one. Were you???
This past week, there were some very historical decisions made at the national level that will without doubt, make it into the pages of our children’s history books….or web-sites, whatever medium they will use to learn about history one day. Decisions about healthcare. Decisions about equality. Decisions that stirred the pot of social opinion. Decisions that raise eyebrows. Decisions that evoked emotions on all levels. Decisions that raised even more questions….among adults.
I am a bit of a news Junkie….OK, a Today Show junkie…..close enough. And twice this past week, the always familiar and slightly pulse-raising, “Special Report” music interrupted my viewing. Both times, I was getting ready in my room with one ear on the television and one mommy-ear pointed toward the living room where my kiddos were watching their beloved pet-blooper show. And both times, I ran into the living room and switched the silly pet-blooper show, to the channel with the President adressing the nation. After a brief bout of crankiness from the little people, they settled in beside me to see what all the fuss was about. History was made…..and witnessed.
After listening to the president address the world, my 3 year old looked at me and said, “So, now what?”
Good question, kiddo. He most likely did not understand most of the words that were used in the presidential address, but he grasped that something important had just happened. Regardless of our opinion on it, we all did.
With the exception of a few little white lies…..think Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, etc., my husband and I believe in telling our kids the truth and talking to them like little adults. “Little” being the operative word there. We would be foolish to believe that our children understand words/concepts like, “legislation”, “terrorism” or “equality”. But we know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they understand words like “rules”, “bullies”, and “fairness”. So we take what is happening in the world and instead of shielding them from it, we explain it. We explain it in words and situations they understand. We accept their natural curiosity and foster it with information that helps them better understand the world around them. We paint a kid-friendly picture of a not-always-so-kid-friendly world. After all, this world is theirs for the taking….it’s probably best that they understand what they are getting into. No?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I want nothing more than for my kids to be kids. I want them to believe that when they bounce on the trampoline that can indeed jump over the moon and the stars. I want to them beleive in fairy tales. I want them to build magnificent kingdoms from paper-cups and bristle-blocks. I do not want to rob them of their innocence…..for it only lasts so long…..I get that.
What I do want, is to raise kiddos who ask questions. To raise kiddos who grow into adults who make informed, educated opinions. I want to raise kiddos who strive to make this world a better place. I want to raise kiddos who are tolerant of others even when they differ from themselves. I want to raise kiddos that make other people strive to be better.
So, I talk to them…..about the fun stuff and the not-so-fun stuff. I talk about the news. I talk about unicorns. I talk about people….in lands near and far. Sometimes, I have no idea if they truly understand what I am saying (my 6 year old has fully mastered the art of the nod and smile….a good life-skill to have indeed), but I talk anyway, because you never know what just may stick with them. You never know what impact words will have….how they may shape them. And that is our job isn’t it? To shape them. To guide them. To provide them a safe, well thought out, jumping-off point in this life.
So I will continue to talk…..and answer questions…..and hope that they always ask more. Because my job is more than being the morning cereal pourer. It is more than being the shuttle-driver and the lost toy finder. It is all of those things and so much more. So I will continue to talk…..