Highly publicized, emotional laden current events can be opportune moments for parents to express curiosity and invite meaningful dialogue with their children. On popular and social media, teens can be bombarded with stories, conflicting opinions and messages, and dramatic portrayals of real and fictionalized events. For as many stories that exist which are depicted with accuracy, there can be just as many that are sensationalized and depicted in an overtly violent, sexualized, or stereotypical manner. As social beings, we also take in messages from our environment as we interact with others and observe the social interactions of others. As of late, news outlets have drawn our attention to our judicial system and caused some of us to pause and reflect upon the magnitude of impact our actions and words can have on each other.
As we strive towards building our community’s identified mission skills, families are reminded of the role they can play outside of school in developing curiosity and empathy. We encourage parents to use the timeliness of the events playing out in our nation to invite developmentally appropriate conversation on the topic with an intention of normalizing and building ease with what many times can be an awkward topic for teens and parents. With this in mind, we share ideas for dialogue openers and resources to turn to for further guidance.
Curiosity conversation starters and talking points:
– How does various media make an impression on their beliefs and others’ beliefs?
– How do the opinions, belief systems, and behaviors of others shape our own opinions, belief systems, and behavior? Do stereotypes at large (for example, gender stereotypes) impact us in a similar way?
– How do we develop and feel empowered to voice our own opinions and beliefs, and resist agreeing with the crowd when we have a alternative stance?
– What moral and ethical dilemmas present in current news?
– Where do they see healthy relationships modeled in the media and real life, where they see unhealthy relationships modeled?
– What is their perception of what constitutes healthy versus unhealthy relationships in a multitude of contexts or pairings/groupings? (for example, friendships, romantic relationships, team/class to coach/teacher relationships)
– What is their notion of “no means no” (stop means stop, yes means yes)?
– What can they do in situations wherein they are feeling uncomfortable or pressured? What can they do to help others in situations wherein they observe someone else’s discomfort?
– What can they do when they are on the receiving end of no and want someone to engage in their plan?
– How can we be empathetic and mindful of others in our community and the world who have personally been impacted by issues of consent or any current event playing out in the media?
– What will you do as an adult if they approach you with an incident that happened to them or a another person in their lives?
National and local resources:
We are here to help steer and guide adults outside of school who care for our students. Feel free to contact us if you would like advice specific to addressing this topic in your family or supporting someone in need. ~Dr. Zhe