It is hard to think about parenting when we see thousands violently looting and destroying property in more than 40 cities around the country. Curfews have been called and there’s a growing sentiment of unrest. Dr. Martin Luther King’s niece Alveda reminded us of his great words that remain relevant today,
"Love, not hate; peace, not violence; and universal brotherhood, not racism."
The black community has had enough. We have all had enough. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former professional basketball player, wrote in an op-ed in the LA Times on Saturday,
"The black community’s main concern right now isn’t whether protesters are standing three or six feet apart or whether a few desperate souls steal some T-shirts or even set a police station on fire, but whether their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers will be murdered by cops or wannabe cops just for going on a walk, a jog, a drive. Or whether being black means sheltering at home for the rest of their lives because the racism virus infecting the country is more deadly than COVID-19. What you should see when you see black protesters in the age of Trump and coronavirus is people pushed to the edge, not because they want bars and nail salons open, but because they want to live. To breathe."
We were already fighting a war against COVID-19 and now we are also reminded we are fighting a war against injustice.
The world is dangerous. It's our instinct as parents to protect. As kids get older, they can learn to protect themselves. You can help teach them. Well-meaning parents often inadvertently over protect their kids. Parents make too many accommodations for their kids and shelter them from reality and its challenges. I understand because I am a parent and a grandparent and my gut reaction is always to protect. You need to remember, you want them to be self-reliant and they won't be if you're always by their side. Adversity can be good. Bumps and bruises heal.
Two of my core principles are trust and respect for your child. This is part of my T.R.I.C.K. philosophy. These behaviors are even more important now in the midst of this pandemic and rioting. We need to take care of our family and make sure our kids know how important they are to us. Make sure you have open and honest communication so they can confide the pain they are feeling and the thoughts they have. Their fears are real and it is important to be there to listen.
Times are hard for all of us and in times like this it is important to remember that when you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That is where your power is. And model this for your children. They will be grateful for a lifetime.