Yesterday evening, our family sat and watched the evening news after dinner. As images rolled across the screen of the heartache in Paris, I kept glancing over at my oldest daughter’s face to gauge her reaction. By this point, the baby was nestled in my wife’s arms sleeping, and the news never really holds Olivia’s attention (does anything?), but Riley was fully engaged. I could tell the wheels were churning as her eyes stared wide at the screen. So during a commercial break, I asked her if she understood what was going on. She replied, yes dad. Not fully convinced, I gave her a quick summary of what we’d seen thus far, something to the effect of bad guys trying to hurt others, a reminder of why that’s wrong and why we can have courage and not live in fear.
Then, at the end of the telecast something cool happened. Lester Holt ended with a scene of a young father trying to explain the exact same tragic events to his child, asking questions about how and why this could happen. The child expressed the fact that he was afraid and the father offered an explanation that I can’t quite do justice to, so I’ll just share the link to the video here: Dad teaches son not to fear after Paris attacks.
The reason why I appreciate this real life example, is because of it’s practicality. Here is a dad living out his core values, modeling for his child what it means to be brave, hopeful, and resilient, and this is what precipitates the opportunity to have the conversation. At the end of the day, as parents we can’t stop circumstances from occurring. Truly, the only thing we can control ourselves is how we respond. The best way to influence our kids, is by training them to respond with courage and conviction, and this happens not just by talking to them about it, but by living out this example in front of them. Remember kids are much more likely to follow the model that is caught, rather than taught.
Hoping that each of us as parents take advantage of the precious moments to be the example our kids need to see in these challenging times.