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Dear Reader: Keep the Conversation Going

by Vaun Thygerson
Contributing writer and mother of three

A few weeks ago, my teenage boys got into an argument over the Xbox remote control, but after everyone calmed down and stepped back from the situation, we realized the disagreement wasn't about the remote control. They were frustrated about their lives that have been turned upside down over the last few months. As plugged in teens, they are receiving all kinds of messages, memes, and news reports about the COVID pandemic, protests, racism, unemployment, death, and seeing a world changing before them. As adults, these are scary words and topics for us to understand, but for these teen brains, it's even harder to process.

For younger children and toddlers, their world is changing for them, too, even if they don't hear or see the news. They can literally feel your emotions and it can trigger them to feel nervous or anxious. In Communication theory, there is a phenomenon called emotional contagion where just as you can "infect" people with your germs, you can also transfer your moods to other people. So, think about this the next time you're wondering why your toddler is having a meltdown for no reason, they just might be expressing what you're feeling inside. Emotions are hard to control when life is normal, but with this world being out of sorts, it's easy to get caught up in the fear and anxiety. Make sure you're having age-appropriate conversations with your little ones, because they learn how to navigate the good and the bad from you. Also, give a tad more compassion to the older ones; because we all are just trying to do our best.

KCFM wanted to share some tips on how to talk to your children about the uncertain times we are facing. In the article, "In Your Own Words: Advice from parents, for parents, about conversations regarding current events," on page 22, KCFM reached out to you, our readers, to share your ideas on the best ways to have these difficult conversations. I'm always in awe of our readers, and this article shows that we have the best moms and dads raising our future generation to become the leaders we need.

One way to lead with compassion is with love. In Janelle Capra's Hello Happy Mama article, "Stand on the Side of Love," she writes about how our community has responded to the protests on the subjects of inequality, racism, and social injustice. She reached out to her friend, Arleana Waller, Founder of ShePower Leadership Academy, and asked her and her mentees and mentors of the program questions to keep this important conversation going. To read their profound words of wisdom, turn to page 14.

Another way to make sure you keep the conversation going is by having family meals together around the dining table. In this month's Humor at Home article, "Table Manners: No One Wins If I Quit," on page 20, July Willis writes about mealtimes and the chaos that can ensue, including the different phases her children have around eating their dinner depending on their ages and moods. Because she prioritizes the importance of family mealtime, she doesn't quit, and just keeps teaching and re-teaching the basic principles of dinnertime etiquette.

In spite of the current event climate, July does have some things to look forward to. This month will be hot, so it's time to cool down with some fun water sports or keep it cool indoors. In the article, "11 Ways to Beat the Heat This Summer," on page 7, Callie Collins gives fun ways to beat the heat that everyone can enjoy. You'll also notice that NOR's Spray Parks are now open to make a fun day with your family that's really close to home.

July always reminds me to be thankful for being an American as we celebrate our nation's Independence Day. This year has been one tumultuous ride, and we've seen our country go through unprecedented experiences. It's important for us to keep the conversation going, especially with our loved ones, and little ones, so they can understand how to process the ever-changing current events climate. As C.S. Lewis said, "Children are not a distraction from more important work, they are the most important work."

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Tags: Parenting

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