How does your family talk about the news?
I’m writing today with an insight into how my experiences with control relate to my family and daily news. And perhaps you can relate. Because this email was spurred when another mother, overwhelmed by the situations in Nepal and Baltimore, asked me this question,
“How does your family talk about the news?”
And it’s so interesting, you know. Because I realized it’s been quite a process to get from where we started to where we are now (and where we will one day be when they’re 30 years old and we’re discussing the world at large).
You see, when Martel and Greyson were younger, I was able to exercise my power and privilege to control what news was available to them. They didn’t have to hear about school shootings, or scandals, or natural disasters. I could also keep them from watching shows that I felt perpetuated stereotypes and discrimination.
But I realized pretty quickly that this served my need to present the world to them in a particular way. I created my own comfort zone where I could then manage (aka control) the direction of their learning and our conversations.
At the same time, my partner and myself would process these events, our energy would shift, our hearts would ache, and we would struggle with all the thoughts and emotions we were experiencing.
And Martel and Greyson knew we were having emotional experiences even when we didn’t say a word.
Because they are so finely tuned into our well being, into our energy, we couldn’t hide or pretend that everything was fine.
And more than that, we knew that this wouldn’t help them in the long run. The world can be an extremely difficult place to live in. Denying the hurt doesn’t help anything – and it definitely doesn’t open up the possibility for change.
As I began to let go of this control over the world they experienced, our family started gently exploring news stories and world events, which brought up a multitude of reactions on my end. I worried that I wouldn’t have the answers to their honest questions. I was shocked at some of their responses. And I felt frustration when I knew that reassuring them that everything was ok was more for me, than it was for them.
My job in those conversations was (and continues to be) to show up truthfully and fully. To be present to their process. To be open with mine. And to let them guide the conversation to areas they want to talk about.
In this way, we are able to more connectedly go through news of thousands of deaths, of systemic racism, of personal and profound tragedies, as a family. Each with our own views, each with our own emotions, and all of us with a space to gather to share.
How does your family talk about the news? I’d love to know.
P.S. At first when I began to write this, I thought I’d give you a list of tips and tools. In doing that research, I found a few pieces that I thought you might like. I’m happy to share them below.