If you have a child in middle school or especially in high school, they are probably joining students from all around the country to respond to the school shooting in Florida. These kids are angry and as they connect across the country on social media they are joining together to make a powerful statement.
Because of the way their brains are rapidly developing at this age, they are becoming acutely aware of the world around them and as a result, they are acquiring their own opinions about issues like this horrific event.
Now is the time to begin the parental process of encouraging your child to develop their own convictions without pressure from others, even you. They might see the issue the same way you do, or they might have a completely different opinion. What a powerful opportunity you have to guide them as they stand up for what they believe.
What can you do as their parent to support their activist spirit?
- Ask them what they think without offering your input or perspective. Just listen.
- Let them know you are impressed that they have come to a conviction about this.
- Explain to them the importance of looking at different viewpoints. Guide them to resources that might support or even not support their position.
- Initiate a discussion about how they plan to act on their conviction.
An Opportunity to Teach
They might want to know what you think about the shooting on the campus in Florida, but be wise in how you answer them. Begin with, “This is just my opinion,” and then explain your conviction without judgment about other opinions, especially theirs.
There is a teaching opportunity here to encourage them to express themselves in a way that others want to hear what they have to say. Explain to them that bad language and divisive comments polarize people and you believe that what they want to say is important for everyone to hear. Inspire them to let their voice ring out in a way it can be heard by everyone.
Help Them Share Their Opinion
If you feel you can support the action they want to take, help them make it happen. This might mean helping them find a platform to express their opinion. Or if their campus or group of friends are organizing an event to let people know what they think, offer rides and food to support what they are doing.
While they are still living at home, you can have a major impact on their developing desire to understand and respond to the world around them. Help them with the process and celebrate the ways they want to make a difference.
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