From the backseat of my car on Saturday, January 9, 2021, my ten-year-old asked a question that pierced the silence in every possible way.
“Mom, is the world coming to an end?” she asked.
I let out an audible gasp. The question took my breath away.
And when I asked her why she thought that, her answer was simple, matter of fact, and on point. “Well, all those people who stormed the Capitol, they were so angry and filled with hate. The pictures are everywhere. And COVID-19, we still have to quarantine, I can’t see my friends. Everything is just really bad right now.”
I didn’t even know what to say. She’s 100% right. Let’s not forget: she’s ten.
My daughter should be having sleepovers, playing basketball on the weekends, going to the movies, goofing around with friends. She should be going to school without a mask on. She shouldn’t be worried that there are people out there who don’t even know her, yet hate her, because of her religion. She should be carefree. Her biggest worry should be not getting invited to someone’s birthday party — -if that.
She certainly shouldn’t be worried about the world coming to an end.
In that moment, and even now, I have no idea how to answer her. Every day brings even more uncertainty. I too have had many days since March 2020 where I felt like the world was coming to an end. Just when it seemed like it couldn’t get any worse, we watched the events unfold in Washington, D.C., live from our homes, on January 6, 2021. Those scenes, the images, the stories we are now hearing from those who were inside, are jaw-dropping, unbelievable, and like something out of a horror movie. Even worse, I keep imaging us moving closer and closer to a TV show I binged over quarantine: “The Handmaids Tale.”
Don’t forget — -what is happening right now, HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. EVER. IN HISTORY.
We are going through a global pandemic. We have a President in power who quite honestly shouldn’t be. Racism and anti-Semitism is at an all time high. Thousands of our President’s followers stormed the Capitol, the home of our democracy, in attempt to overthrow the government. Many were wearing and carrying symbols of hate including swastikas and the confederate flag.
FIVE PEOPLE DIED. Please read that again: FIVE LIVES WERE LOST.
The fallout has been insane and no one knows what to expect or what is coming next. Government officials have resigned, there have been threats on both sides of the political spectrum and while this was all happening, the FLOTUS was having a photo shoot at the White House for her new coffee book.
As someone who works in the parenting space, I have access to some incredible experts and resources: psychologists, therapists, child development specialists. From this, I’ve pulled together some resources and advice that I am finding helpful in navigating this moment in parenting.
1. How to talk to children about the Capitol Riots: An age by age guide: From Today.com, this is a great article as it covers all ages. It was hard to find strategies that would resonate with younger kids, this is a great option.
2. After deadly US Capitol breach, 5 tips to talk to kids and ease their anxiety: From the team at Good Morning America, a psychiatrist and parenting expert weigh in with their tips.
3. How to talk to your kids about the chaos at the Capitol: National Geographic interviews a professor of psychology for some general tips on discussing this topic with your kids.
4. 10 tips on talking to your kids about the attack on the US Capitol: This story from CNN shares the advice of Dr. Neha Chaudhary, a double board-certified child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist.
7. Parenting While Shocked: Another great article shared by our friend Janeen Hayward. This one basically sums up how so many of us are feeling right now.
8. How educators can help kids process the attack on the US Capitol: This final piece, also shared with us by Janeen Hayward, is a great resource for teachers. It is also beneficial to see how teachers may look at this turn of events and interpret it for their classroom.
There is no handbook to guide us on how we explain these events to our children. As we try to navigate this moment as parents, and think ahead to the future, it’s important to take any help and support we need. Lean on each other, ask for help, share your own resources.
When we woke up on the morning of January 6th, the day began quite different from how it ended. On the very day that neo-Nazis stormed America’s Capitol, a Black man and a Jewish man each won Senate seats in a state with deep roots in racism and anti-Semitism. As parents, we must not forget those positive lessons which came from the first part of this historical day. As parents, we must make sure as we move forward, these are the moments and the lessons that come with us to shape the future for our kids. We cannot let these people win.