Friday, December 5, 2014

Autism Answer: Talk About Big Issues With Your Children (not at them) #BlackLivesMatter

Author's Note: Now, and always, there are big things happening in our communities and in our world. Sometimes, those big things hit close to home, or are brought home, and we wonder how to discuss them with our kids. I like discussing things with my kids, I also like discussing things with you. So, feel free to share your own thoughts with me on my Facebook Page. Hugs!! ~Tsara

My son called me last night after getting off of work early. There seemed to be only a trickle of customers due to the large number of "police with big guns and protesters stopping traffic." And so we had a passionate and illuminating discussion about the race issue, police policy and accountability, and #BlackLivesMatter

It was fantastic! We shared, considered, reflected, suggested.... and more. As you know, my family is almost unbelievably colorful (seeing us walk down the street kinda looks like a transparent ad for diversity, except not all of us dress well enough!) so the race issue hits home. It's something we talk about, think about, and evolve on in our home and with our friends.

Yet we didn't truly discuss the recent uproar and protests in depth until my son asked by way of bringing it up in an obviously interested way. 

It's important to talk about sex, equality, freedom and other "big" issues with our kids. And it's also important to respect their interest and ability to understand. My youngest son (who is mixed race) has been asking and learning about racism and privilege since a young age. Because he's experienced and wanted to understand it all. My oldest son didn't learn much about it until he was in eighth grade and people were calling him a terrorist.

However, importantly, I've always been open to discussing anything with my boys. 
Mostly it's Family Guy, movies, dance moves, and favorite foods. But sometimes it's rape, bullying, prejudice, climate change, sexuality, mental health--theses are just a few of the topics I comfortably discussed. And because a discussion is not me telling them what to think or believe, but rather an exploration of what we've experienced and a sharing of ideas, it's pretty easy to keep it appropriate to each child.

Although I do also believe in stretching the edges just a bit, so that we can continue to grow and feel comfortable doing so. 

So, if you're wondering how to talk about Michael Brown and Ferguson, Bill Cosby and allegations, Robin Williams and suicide, New York and Eric Garner, Uganda's Anti Homosexuality Bill and the reality of prejudice around the world,  or any other topical and important "big" issue with your kiddos, autistic or not, I suggest letting them lead you regarding their ability to understand, while you play a bit on the edges.

And always be open to more questions and discussions. 

And always be willing to listen as well as tell. 

We can (and I believe should) talk about these issues (and more) will all of our children. It's a beautiful way to connect while practicing the important skill of thoughtful introspection. 

It's not just practice for our kids, but practice for ourselves.

Talking about big issues with my children, rather than at them, has been one of the greatest gifts they've given me. 

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

A Portion of my colorful family.
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Warning: If you choose to encourage candid conversation and a brave interest in the world with your children, it's likely that you'll be stared at and verbally abused by strangers. But, you know what? It's worth it!! Hugs!!!!