Oh, the continuing saga of Toronto mayor, Rob Ford. I think I’m more sick of hearing about that than I am about Pokemon™ cards or Minecraft ™! What a smorgasbord of teachable moments this situation has served up to the unsuspecting parenting masses, huh? And we don’t even live in Toronto!
I’m sure if your family discussions have gone anything like mine over the past few days, your kids (the wee ones, tweens or teens) have asked you some hard questions. Whether it be what crack cocaine is or what “the mayor” did that was so bad or perhaps, “Doesn’t he know drugs are bad?” or “He’s a grown-up, shouldn’t he know better?” Your tween or teenager may wonder about where he got the drugs, how people get drugs and why he drank so much alcohol that he couldn’t make good decisions.
And maybe, just maybe, although you abhor what Mayor Ford did and the terrible example of choice of friends, activities and behavior he set for his young constituents and kids everywhere, you might be struggling with a teeny, nagging bit of sympathy for the guy. “Let him without sin cast the first stone” may cross your mind. Your kids may even question why people can’t just forgive him. Forgiveness is important and after all, he said he was “very, very sorry.”
So…what to do with all this? Well, I think the order of the day might well include an honest, age-appropriate discussion about drugs. It’s important, and let’s face it – the kids are asking. Not a bad time to discuss alcohol too (and be ready to tackle just what a “drunken stupor” is). We all want to be the type of parent to whom our kids feel they can pose any question. So, let’s get to it!
Doesn’t hurt to have a discussion about empathy and understanding while you’re at it. Maybe it’s a good time to remind our kids that just because we dislike and reject what someone did, doesn’t mean we hate that person. We can forgive and move on having learned valuable lessons from a very ugly situation. And people can change. They may need help, but no one is incapable of changing their ways.
Ultimately, I think the best approach is to answer your kids’ questions as honestly and briefly as possible without overwhelming them with too much information or details that might lead to a ton more questions. And if they’re little – answer what they ask without elaborating too much. This blip on the media landscape will pass, as they all do, but the impacts of the stuff you choose to teach your kid in this moment may well last a lifetime.
Feeling stressed about approaching these difficult topics? Take up on the help that is available to you in your community. You are never alone.
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About this blogger:
Paula D’Orazio RN is a public health nurse with the Early Years Health Program at the Halton Region Health Department. Wanna know more about her? Read her blogs! She’ll tell ya! (She kinda likes to talk.)