Our world is full of complex situations—some of which your teen might have learned about at school, on the news, through social media or from friends. For example, understanding different political views, religions or economic statuses is a highly complicated matter. Issues of terrorism and violence can be haunting: how do you address these with your teen? How can you teach your teen to understand and handle these issues in a healthy, tactful way?
The Problem with Perspectives
Image Credit: Annie Spratt
Each of us walk through life with a certain point of view. What we see, feel and observe all plays a role in how we interpret a situation. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be very difficult to understand how another person might view a situation—even the exact same situation.
While this happens on a small, day-to-day scale, this is also true about larger, current affairs. Helping your teen recognize different perspectives can lead them to develop empathy for and understanding of others. Teach them that age, gender, race, orientation, economic status and culture can all play significant roles in shaping a person’s perspective and that it can be helpful to consider what it’s like to “walk in another person’s shoes” when current affairs are particularly troubling. That way, they’ll be less likely to jump to harmful assumptions about others.
More Questions Than Answers
Another way that you can help your teen address troubling situations or sensitive topics is to consider that it’s better to ask questions than it is to give uninvited explanations or answers. Especially if there is a culture, religion or situation that they are unfamiliar with, encourage them to be open, curious and thoughtful. It’s better to take a posture of learning before teaching.
Image Credit: Roberto Nickson
Sometimes the stories we hear in the news are scary, and they can impact us on a personal level. Perhaps our sense of security feels threatened or maybe we start to feel unsure about situations we were once comfortable with. Help your teen understand that sometimes media stories can be exaggerated and stir up more fear than is warranted. Let them know that they don’t have to worry about all the troubling scenarios they hear about—you and other loved ones are there to support them.
The Importance of Honesty
It can be tempting to want to shelter our kids from stories or scenarios that are troubling. However, operating with openness and honesty is the best way to help your teen deal with the reality of the world around us. Talk about what they see in the news and encourage them to ask questions—you might not have the answers, but you can open their minds to new ideas and views. At the end of the day, you have an opportunity to demonstrate ways that they can respond appropriately and maturely to these difficult situations.
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