Your table is ready

Maybe it’s a good time to talk a little bit about how to talk to our kids about the times when this floating ball of water called Earth isn’t so kind… maybe just maybe we can numb the sting of this inevitable situation just a little by chance, by a bit of preparation…

So, when is it a good time to talk to our children? That’s a better question for you and your children and not a determination that can necessarily be made by anyone. You know what your kids can handle and how to present it. But, to that end, I think that the best time to talk is around a meal. Do you still sit around the table, no devices, no tv, or music that’s to loud to talk over.. do you sit down to dinner and talk? If no, that’s OK… But maybe now would be a good time to start.  You see, the art of the conversation is going the way of the dinosaur, as well as the art of the family dinner. Family dinner is so important on so many levels that it is considered an almost sacred past time. We spend our day gathering news from all kinds of various sources but a lot of times the news of our family is lost. It’s so important to know what’s going on in the health of our family to be able to know how to make adjustments to move it forward. We have all suffered some type of damage or loss in our personal lives, and in the lives of our children as well and because we live in uncertain times the dinner table is as good a place as any or maybe even better than most to do a well check on ourselves and each other. For example, during every day play that our kids play outside they are going to come up with other children and those other children have their own culture and their own stories and their own way of playing, what a great opportunity for our kids to learn!  Or if they fall down and skinned their knee, or cause some other child to fall down skin their knee, this isn’t as big a deal to some as it was to me for example…  Since I wasn’t there when it happened I was very curious and concerned as to how it happened. My son told me the story, their were heroes, and even a villain in the form of the gravel that caused the boo-boo. (Yes, I still kiss my sons boo-boos!)  and as a result I got to see and hear all of these ingredients as they formed the story of what happened.  Simple enough, right?  The point isn’t necessarily the boo-boo as much as it is the experience and story as it relates to the experience. So verily, my son is an extremely observant little person who can see when I am stressed out or hurting in someway and he asks lots of questions…it is there that we have an opportunity to make a choice: We can either engage directly what is causing our duress or we can diffuse our narrative to apply only to the lens of a child. I typically do a hybrid of both(again, not a suggestion as much as an example) because my son is used to a… different level of engagement from me. By this I mean unfortunately he has been exposed to some of the uglier facets of our human experience at a young age through no fault of his own, and while that is true for a lot of children, a lot of the language I use is not designed to minimize as much as it is designed to enlighten because life is not always going to be a negative experience that you can’t get around. 

When do we decide to talk about pressing issues in our community and the world at large? Again this is something largely based on your discretion and your knowledge of your children. Of course in our area and around most areas we are dealing with a colossal opioid epidemic. I wanted my children to be very aware of the danger of this crisis on multiple levels. It’s not just dangerous because of the people it’s also dangerous because of a pre-disposition in particular.  While I really don’t wish to impose my personal views so much in these blogs, I do think it’s important to emphasize that regardless of anything people in the throes of this crisis are in fact human beings that deserve every ounce of empathy we can give to them, they are often not in control as much as they are slaves. This is not an excuse, but a reason. It’s important to distinguish between the two.  And while you obviously choose your own narrative, I find that it’s often more to the benefit if we educate more than emphasizing fear. While I certainly want my children to be afraid of this particular crisis, I want them to understand what they are afraid of and why they are afraid of it. It’s simply not enough to scare, fear is a primal reaction but it can also become an aphrodisiac as well. Another important distinction!!! As our children become young adults their tendency for rebellion could be their undoing… as was my experience. As a note to the wise, Fear is simply not enough, and in fact can make things appealing instead of repelling, need more proof- may I direct you to any Halloween party or Blockbuster film? 

 Besides, it’s pretty safe to say that there’s a good portion of our community that has had or is having an experience involving either the use or adverse effects of the use on some level or another. Obviously a child under the age of five doesn’t need to be told about the dangers of such things, but I think you would be quite shocked if you saw the statistics involving children between the ages of 8 and 12 shall we say? Again, I stress that this is more about education then it is a scare tactic, and this is not an attempt to direct you to divulge information that is not age-appropriate to your specific situation!!! 

 We are definitely living and uncertain times, I think we can all pretty much agree on this. There are so many things to be concerned about and so many opportunities to get lost in.  Whether were talking about human trafficking, drug trafficking, religion, or politics… There seems to be nothing sacred anymore. Or at least no safe harbor entirely. I say this because it was extremely hard for me personally to wrap my mind around this very fact as it has become more and more apparent with each passing day.  We will not be able to always protect our children from harm on every level, so I have decided at least for me to allow my children to be as educated as I could make them, Or as curious as I can guide them to be so that they could draw their own conclusions when they are ready to take that information on. Hopefully I do a good enough job with them that they decide to learn this information before they’re forced to make  quick decisions. I suppose that’s what we’re all trying to do as parents, right?  it seems rather easy do allow our kids to get lost in the web spending hours watching YouTube or what have you… Somewhere in there they’re getting information that was never available to us, but somewhere in there they could equally lose themselves and in turn…us their parents!  I have been recently shocked and surprised by some of the things my oldest was able to find online with all of the efforts I’ve taken with parental controls and so on…  I have also been equally surprised by the amount of times I find myself referring to the same one in regards to questions I have with tools I’ve been using for longer than he’s been alive! And I will tell you this with confidence, more often than not they don’t miss a beat. By that I mean they adapt much quicker to this information then we do as their parents, and they understand it in a way that is both simpler and more complicated simultaneously. I trust my son’s input implicitly,  which is not to say I am not frustrated by having to explain things that I don’t think he should know because he came across it on some seemingly innocent channel. “The best laid plans… “As they say 

 I guess in some roundabout way what I am trying to communicate to you is that having that family dinner is so much more than a couple people sitting around the table and eating…  The sum is so much greater than the parts because those moments are priceless in that conversation is infinitely precious.  This is a time we can let our guard down, we can speak candidly and confidently, we could be the speaker and listener, the guide and the guided.  We don’t have too many opportunities in our lives to be the director of operations necessarily, and that includes our kids lives as well. The best thing that we can do is leave at their feet all of the information and experiences we have gained in our lifetime in the hopes that they pick this information up and trust us enough to use it while making decisions for their own lives. As a person this is a treasure beyond compare! As parents this is a duty to curate and procure, and as a community this is an oath we take while passing the parslied potatoes, please… and the salt… (::)