Talking With Your Teenager About Recent Events

From the 2019 9th Grade Civil Rights Journey in Montgomery, Alabama

All of us share a desire for our children to be fearless advocates for justice and empathy. In times like these, it is difficult to know how to draw the line between addressing current events directly and shielding those we love from the world’s brutality. Yet, we also know that we have a responsibility to guide our teenagers to process complex and even painful situations as they become young adults.

As always, I encourage you to be open to the questions that your teens independently raise, without judgment. Allow them to share their feelings, and share your own feelings honestly – including those of confusion or frustration.

You may find it helpful to raise open-ended questions that will enable them to clarify their core values, such as:

  • What sort of society do they hope to build and what roles do they imagine having in making it so?
  • What sort of policing does society need?
  • How can we personally treat all people with compassion and respect?

Finally, remember that maintaining hope is core to our people’s resilience. We have been through many challenging times throughout our history, and it is always essential to remember in the hard moments that good times are inevitably ahead.

Here are a few resources that I have found useful in thinking about these complex issues, so I am passing them along to you. Other than the article in USA Today, they are mostly intended for educators, but they apply for parents as well:

From USA Today:

From the Anti-Defamation League:

From Teaching Tolerance:

From Facing History and Ourselves:

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, or to the clergy here at Temple Emanu-El; we are here for you.

With kindness and concern,

Saul Kaiserman, Director of Lifelong Learning Emeritus