America Weeps: How to talk to your teen about tragedy in the US

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July 16, 2016
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America Weeps: How to talk to your teen about tragedy in the US

The American Dream has been challenged in the past few months, more than it has been in years. With the recent officer involved shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, coupled with the recent deadly shootings of police officers in Dallas, TX and Baton Rouge, LA, a new dialogue has started amongst people of all colors.

Regardless of what side of the discussion you are on, the recent traditional and social media coverage of these incidents, has forced families to start talking about race relations in this country. Emotions are running high, as feelings of anger, fear, frustration, sadness, and helplessness, may hit your family and household. As young women or parents of young women, it’s important your home is a safe place for to speak openly about thoughts, feelings, and fears, as it pertains to what’s going on in the world.

There are several ways to cope in times of tragedy, but if you find that you are lost, here are a few suggestions on things to help you process your emotions:

Write it down – Get all of your emotions and thoughts down on paper. Writing a letter can be extremely impactful, because you can directly address who or what is causing you to feel badly. Often times we are unaware of the source of our negative emotions. Allowing your emotions to flow out, with no judgement and no editing, may uncover the true source of your pain.

Artistic expression – For people that have more of a creative mind, artistic expression is a great way to release some of the negative emotions that you may be experiencing. Some of the most famous pieces of art, in any form, were created during a painful time in the artist’s life. By channeling their emotions into the artwork, they were able to create beauty for generations to enjoy. The trick to this form, as well as any of these other forms of release, is to allow yourself to fully experience the emotion you are trying to release, without editing yourself.

Open discussion and dialogue with no correction – The greatest tool that you can use to help your family move through any tragic event or period of grief, is to allow an open discussion and dialogue with no correction. Often times, especially as parents, we want to insert our ideas and our thoughts in a conversation. That generally will cut people off from fully expressing what they need to. Even going into the conversation with the intention of making your child feel better, to offer some advice, or to convince them they are protected, will change the way that they response. It’s time to get it all out.

One thing that we have strived to do with Detour and the FANCY Teen Expo, is arm young women with resources and information to change their futures. Now more than ever, it’s important to introduce our youth to the importance of leadership and a strong presence in their community. Even when talk feels like it’s not enough, unchecked negativity can often show up in ways that you would never imagine.

Have you started the conversation in your home?

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