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How Do We Talk to Our Kids About Scary Things?

How do we talk to our kids about scary things? This is a question on all of our minds.

Life just does not seem to be letting up. Having survived two years of the pandemic in lockdown, now we are talking about war, inflation, and more uncertainty. So the question is, how do we talk to our kids about scary things?

My oldest is nearly 15, a freshman in high school and my youngest is just six years old. Each of my kids manifests anxiety in different ways. But none of them have escaped anxiety’s tight grip. So when world events are prolonged and scary I need to be mindful of what I share. I need to consider when I share and through what mechanism they learn. For example, in Texas, the Governor and Attorney General have moved to categorize providing affirming care to transgender children as child abuse. While I write about it on my blog it is not a dinner table conversation in our home. In fact, it is not a conversation we have at all.

Leaders across the globe are hellbent on denying basic human rights. Whether it be here at home by redlining voting districts or flat out making it harder for people to vote. Denying access to bathrooms, sports, and medical care to transgender children. Globally, Russia invading and bombing Ukrainian citizens out of their homes in an effort to take over their country. Each of these events can be stressful for our children and we must be mindful of their exposure.

Whether your kids are six, sixteen, or twenty-six it is important to think before we talk. As a cis gender, heterosexual human, I have never had my fundamental human rights encroached upon. As a white woman, I do not see the world through the eyes of a person who, from birth, faces discrimination. Being raised in a home with plenty of food and a roof over my head, I have never seen the world through the eyes of poverty, immigration, or refugee.

Seeing the world through the eyes of my transgender child has been a radical awakening. Being subject to continuous hate speech and emboldened leaders blatantly introducing discriminatory legislation has been exhausting. Local parent groups getting violent at our county board of education meetings, threatening to erase the actual lived experience of millions of humans in our country takes its toll.

info graphic of how to talk about difficult news with kids

I ask you to consider carefully how and when you allow your children to learn about current events. This does not mean I believe in censoring reality from our children. I ask that you first PAUSE and think about the impact the information might have on the children around you when talking at the bus stop in the morning or at a neighborhood party.

When all is said and done we must comfort and remind our children that they will be okay. Good people are working for change, to protect them and their community. These people are not just police and firefighters. They are parents and teachers who affirm our children in the classroom. They are those on the fringes who challenge the status quote and seek to learn, listen, and then educate for change. Those who stand up and testify and contribute when they cannot do the heavy lifting.

So, how do we talk to our kids about scary things? Ultimately we must remind our children what Mr. Rodger’s said:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

― Fred Rogers


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Three Things We Can Learn From Nature

You know from my reflection about the bird nest, that I firmly believe we can learn everything we need to know from nature. As Spring begins to unveil its gloriousness, I am reminded once again how true that is. This past weekend, my family discovered a very large turtle on our property. As I watched this magnificent creature make its way through my yard, I reflected on some things that I would like to share with you. 

Do the next thing

Admittedly, I am in a season of overwhelm right now. Consequently, it feels like the ping pong scene from Forrest Gump. I am constantly getting whacked and bounced from one issue to the next. That is such a “human” thing. As I admire that turtle, I realize that although I am not sure what his mission is, he is focused and determined to complete it. Laser. Sharp. Focus. So friends, when your mind starts to feel like a ping pong match on steroids, just do the next thing. Don’t think of the million other things. Do the next thing

Wear your battle scars with pride

At every turn, it feels like there is a new cream, procedure, supplement, or routine to help us look flawless, ageless, like new. Why do we do that? My turtle friend carries her scars with pride. Dirt crusted on her shell, wrinkled skin from time spent basking in the sun, and cracks and bruises from the natural struggle of being a turtle. But, we marvel at her. She is beautiful, scars and all. And so are you. 

Retreat when necessary

It was beyond exciting for my family to see our turtle friend. With excitement, there is noise and laughter and jumping up and down. At first, the turtle moved forward, unbothered by our presence. And then, as turtles do, retreated into her shell to take a moment to regroup from the excitement my family brought to her journey. She paused to breathe. Friends, how many of you are forgetting to retreat? Refusing to breathe?

Can we pause for a moment to think about what these three things look like for our transgender community? They have to do “all the things” just like the rest of us. Meanwhile, they also must fight for freedoms, advocate for health care, and seek community and friendships that are allies. So consequently, it is beyond exhausting. 

They are bombarded with a culture that promotes youthfulness and beauty PLUS the constant worry that they will not receive gender-affirming medical care. 

They need rest and respite, yet cannot let down their guard for a second, because the enemy is always ready with a new law or mandate that dictates who they are. 

We are worthy just by being, not by the amount we accomplish. We are all beautiful without creams or tinctures to make us look younger. Everyone deserves rest and reprieve from a loud and sometimes overwhelming world. 
Just like the turtle, you are enough.