Was parenting always this hard? Or was it simpler in the age of sweeping things under the rug? I like to think that modern parenting helps us develop stronger bonds with our kids. We engage our kids in conversation. We respect them. We offer choices. We listen. That’s a hell of a lot better than teaching them to be seen and not heard, or to blindly respect authority, right?
Better, perhaps, but not easier. Definitely not easier.
My kids and I usually listen to the news on the way to school. I try and engage them in conversation about current events. I encourage them to develop opinions and teach them to have intelligent, respectful conversations about world events. I have to admit that I’ve struggled lately and have often opted to put on some music instead.
The recent sexual harassment stories have been hard for me to process. When everyone was posting #metoo, I remained silent. Not because I don’t have my own stories, of course I do. But these stories are painful and I don’t owe them to anyone. That said, when the movement began, my kids asked, “Did you experience sexual harassment, Mom?” “Yes,” I replied. “What happened?” They asked. They wanted details. I could have mentioned many minor incidents, but all I could think of in that moment were painful examples and I wasn’t prepared to share. So I shut down. We have not discussed the topic since.
Whether the focus is on sexual harassment or another emotionally charged topic, finding balance has been tough. It’s hard to stomach the upheaval happening in our society lately. Sometimes I want to stick my head in the sand. Ignorance is bliss, after all. But I’m a parent, which means that I have a responsibility to teach my children to not be ignorant. I have to help my kids make sense of the world. I want to teach them how to rise up and make a positive difference.
Then there is the issue of fake news. It’s everywhere, on all sides of any argument and we are bombarded by it incessantly. It’s disgusting and making it extra hard for parents to raise informed, critical thinkers. So how do we help our kids stay educated and informed when the news triggers our own intense emotion? How do we sort through all of the crap to find accurate information?
Honestly, I don’t know.
But here are a few suggestions I have:
- Consider these hallmarks of fake/slanted news:
- The story is strongly opinionated
- The story is charged with emotion
- The source is unknown or has a questionable reputation
- The story does not contain any quantifiable data
- The story or source is sponsored by a particular organization or movement
- Seek reputable news sources:
- Look for longevity (how long has the source been around?)
- The source is known to provide accurate, unbiased information
- The source is not funded by someone with a particular agenda
- The source adheres to a journalistic code of ethics (such as the Society of Professional Journalist’s code of ethics)
- Stop sharing inflammatory garbage. Consider the points above before you spread news.
- Recognize your own emotional responses to stories and process through the emotions when you feel triggered.
- Turn off the TV, the radio, the digital devices from time to time so you can get a break from the bombardment. Perhaps identify one or two reliable sources and designate specific time frames for accessing information exclusively from those sources so you’re not totally overwhelmed.
Finally, I believe in the law of attraction–that we manifest what we focus on. I think the more we spread negativity and fear, the more of that we create. The news is full of horrible stories. So let’s make an effort to spread stories of hope and positivity. I would love for there to be a #metoo movement that centers around our triumphs rather than our trauma. Indeed, pretty much every woman has been a victim of sexual harassment. I don’t deny the importance of recognizing that. However, how many of us have successfully risen above pain or suffering? How many of us have overcome incredible challenges? How many of us have transformed our trauma into personal power? Sharing that, honoring my spirit as a badass warrior of love is the movement that I want to participate in. Whose with me? #badasslovewarrior
With Love and Compassion,
Adina Arden Cooper
I'm a lover, a guide, a supportive companion. A storyteller, an artist, an ally and an advocate. I help individuals thrive and communities come together through counseling, coaching, and community building. I believe that shared humanity is a powerful strength and that our stories connect us in beautiful and sacred ways. As I stumble, skip, or soar my way through this life, I invite you to join me on the journey. Likewise, I'm honored to travel with you. In witnessing one another, we find meaning.