Gentle Reminder: Talk to your kids about the National School Walkout.


March 14, 2018

© Indianapolis Star-USA Today Network

My youngest son came home after the National School Walkout and he was unusually quiet. I asked him if his middle school addressed the protest and he said they had an optional 10-minute assembly. Then he added that he chose not to go, electing to read in his classroom instead. 

He wasn't alone. In fact, he revealed a large number of kids stayed behind with a teacher. 

After I got over my initial surprise that he opted out I said, "I know this is a scary subject, but you realize not going to the assembly doesn't make gun violence go away, honey." He looked at me, "I know, mom. We have safety drills at school and we talk about it."  

I could see from his expression that he was deeply saddened about having such a difficult--but necessary--national dialogue. This is hard on all of us, and I think we forget how impossibly hard it is on our children.

I told him that I respect his decision to not go to the assembly and I added, "Sometimes you just need to take a minute for youself, to collect your thoughts and process things." He seemed visibly relieved then hugged me and said, "thanks for understanding, mom."

Today's conversation with my son reminds me of the best selling book, The Gift of Fear, by security specialist Gavin de Becker. In it, he details how fear is acutally a gift because it triggers our intuition. In other words, fear (not to be confused with worry, which is the fear we manufacture) is our primal instinct helping to keep us safe.

In The Gift of Fear, De Becker writes, "To be be freer of fear and yet still get its gift, there are three goals to strive for: 1) When you feel fear, listen. 2) When you don't feel fear, don't manufacture it. 3) If you find yourself creating worry, explore and discover why."

De Becker's goals show you can aleviate worry through action and education. If you're scared of the dark, take action and turn on the light. Then, educate yourself as to why you're afraid. (Too many horror movies, perhaps?)

Action, education. That's exactly what kids across the country and around the world did today.  

I told my son, while action and edcuation don't remove the threat of violence, they are key components in getting us all to a place where we can effect positive change. 

Finally, taking action doesn't necessarily mean participating in a protest. It can be as simple as being involved in your child's life.