My blogging days are coming to a close. This will be my final entry for #TweenSwag, but I feel it is an important entry. I want to talk to you about being an active adult for the kids in your life. You as parents, family members and loved ones have the chance to make a difference in the world that they see around them. Often when adults talk to kids, we may feel like we are not making a difference or that the things that we say go in one ear and out the other. As for me, I would rather talk too much than not enough.
This weekend I had a chance to talk to my nieces who live in Italy. These girls have traveled the world because they are in a military family. They have seen more than my eyes have seen and yet, I still feel like I have things to teach them and they have things to teach me. I hadn’t talked to them in quite some time, but I try to stay current with what is happening in their world. Just in the short time I talked with them, I had the chance to discuss so many things that are happening in the media.
The first thing that I said was, “hey, did you know selfie is the word of the year?” and then the conversation opened up from there as I was speaking their language, I was making an effort to discuss what is important to them and what is happening in their youth circles. We discussed Catching Fire and Peeta and Katniss’s gender roles, Snapchat and things that I want them to be careful about while using online media, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic and Equestria Girls(last week’s blog), One Direction and Katy Perry. One of the last things we discussed was sexuality as one of them is reading a book where a boy comes out. She said she was “shocked” when he came out and that gave me the chance to talk to them both about young love, crushes and that we are all different, but that it was OK. This is just a small list of what came up during our conversation.
Being active in the kids in my life is important to me. For me, I think that if I just give them a chance, to at least hear things that are different than what they are seeing in everyday media or what they are hearing on the bus or in the hallways at school: A. gives them someone to go to if they want to talk more about things that are going on in their lives and B. gives them a chance to choose something that might look different than what outside entities are telling them to do or be. As adults I feel like we need to give kids more credit for being able to look at issues in more complex ways. Their minds are so much more bold and so much more open than many of ours who have been jaded by everyday living and growing up. They too will have to grow up, so why not help them use the tools that they have to build something completely new and different than what tweens lives are supposed to be today according to the media?
The last thing I want to talk to you about before I sign off is activism. Activism in a short and easy sense is working towards something you believe in or to make a change. A couple of weeks ago I had the displeasure of attending a Moorhead Public Schools meeting where mother Natalie Smith-Carlson was seeking new policy changes to create a clear and concise plan of action if a student is assaulted at school. Her daughter recently had been assaulted at school and the care and treatment of her, in my opinion, was abysmal. An entire account of the incident can be heard on The Jay Thomas radio show. A student should not have to fear treatment from the adults around them and the adults that surround them should be trained in critical care after an assault. It isn’t too much to ask of our higher administrators and our teachers in general to be knowledgeable about violence and the care of those who have had an experience involving violence. Students should be able to trust the adults around them, especially at school.
Activism can be scary. When a mother is talking to an entire school board (and city) to try to change a policy that affected her daughters health, that is hard to do. But she did it and continues to fight to this day to work towards a policy change. This is a mother and family being active in their kids’ lives. It is not always perfect, it is not always fun, but it is important to show the kids in our lives that there are things worth fighting for. There are things that are worth making our days longer and our hearts stronger. So I am asking all of you to be active for the kids in your lives. Whether you are talking to them about selfies and snapchat or fighting to make their rights as students better, show them that you are with them. Show them that you know what is happening in their world and that you are there for them. They are listening more than you think and learning more from your actions than you may ever know. Make them good actions. Make them actions that you would be proud to see if they were to do them. You have more influence over the kids in your life than the media does. Use it well.