2020 has been, for everyone, a year we will never forget. And while most of us eagerly await for this twelve-month cycle to come to its natural end, many parents are left wondering how to continue to interpret the lasting effects of 2020 with their children. With so many topics to unpack, and so many questions that have been asked (or are currently in a mental queue), it’s difficult to know where to start. But, for every parent out there, no matter how old their children are, the important thing is to start.
Start talking. Start listening. And start understanding that, just like for yourself, 2020 has been a difficult year for your child.
But, amidst all of the difficulties and dilemmas, there’s a lot we can be grateful for, including the multitude of teaching opportunities that we have been gifted. And, among those opportunities, one of the most powerful is social responsibility.
What does it mean to be a responsible member of society?
How can we help others without compromising our beliefs and values?
What is society needing in order to mend the fissures that have become so visible?
As parents, we all get to decide how to explain the events that have taken place in 2020 to our children, which means we have the privilege (and the duty) to help shape how our children see the world. But, perhaps even more importantly, we get to help them better understand what their role in society is — and that’s no small undertaking.
Regardless of where you stand personally on current events, each and every parent should be using 2020 as a framework for talking to their children about things like:
Here’s how some of those conversations could get started…
- Respect. As you look around our country, disrespect seems to be a common theme, especially in news stories and popular headlines. Now’s the time to talk to your child about what respect is and how it looks in action. You can remind your child that respect doesn’t mean losing sight of what you believe or understand. Rather, respect is allowing other people to have space for their own opinions and beliefs. You might ask questions about what is respectful and what’s not. Or, you might take an example of something that’s happened and then ask your child if the event was respectful or not. If not, what could have been done differently to show more respect?
- Compassion. Compassion is an action, not just something you hope to have. When talking with your child, remind them that compassion starts with trying to understand how another person might be feeling. And, whether you disagree with that person or not, being compassionate means acknowledging that we all have the power to make our own decisions and that, in doing so, our humanness allows for mistakes. If you child is feeling particularly angry or upset about something or someone, help them to consider what’s happening on the other side.
- Service. Now more than ever, sit down with your child to talk about what you can do to help your local community. What are people needing? How can you help? What can your child do to help care for someone else? In the midst of all of the trials of 2020, reminding your child that there are still so many opportunities for good things to happen is essential.
Social responsibility isn’t superficial. It’s not something you say or talk about; it’s something you do. When you use this powerful year to help your child understand how they can be a responsible member of society, you start to uncover the silver lining of 2020.