The Most Anxious Generation

How do we explain what happened January 6th to our kids?

Image for post
Image for post
Anxious teen. By SBD. 1/06/21.

And then… an attack on the Capitol.

My 15 year-old watched with us as it unfolded on CNN. It first looked like the protestors had crossed the barrier and would remain on the Capitol steps. Then the crowd literally broke into the Capitol Building.

But, these people shattered windows and raided the tunnels— during a joint session of Congress?

The scenes from the Senate floor were equally as shocking and scary. The certification voting stopped. And I literally prayed that there wouldn’t be a massacre of legislators, rioters, or police. It is a miracle that the police staved off this mob and protected the legislators from being killed.

The rioters who trashed the Capitol Building, threatened the Vice President and congressional leadership during a vote to certify an election, constructed a noose and gallows on Capitol Grounds . . . then walked out of the building and got on planes to go home.

Our children watched this happen on live television.

How do we talk to our kids about a coup attempt in the United States of America, the beacon of Democracy?

And how do we assure them the rule of law will prevail when we, ourselves, are stunned?

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Discuss the rule of law. Explain that despite the violent attack on the nation’s Capitol during a legislative proceeding certifying a vote, the vote ultimately continued. The legislators did their job.
  2. Outline your values as family. Talk about the what we’ve learned as a society and what we’ve not. How do these riots differ from the protests we’ve seen on the mall, the Women’s March, the Science March, and the Black Lives Matter protests? Talk about the difference between “No Justice, No Peace” and “Hang Mike Pence.” Discuss white privilege, what it means, and how we can work to become anti-racist.
  3. Discuss the polarization of America. Talk about different news sites and information and misinformation online. Ask them what they know and what they think. Consider watching The Social Dilemma with them. Ask them about tech companies and their power. Ask about whether they agree with the decisions of companies to delete the President’s twitter account. Probe their knowledge of the First Amendment, what type of speech it covers, whether it applies to private companies, and what type of assemblies.
  4. Talk about the electoral process, how votes are certified, and then the role of the courts. How do the three branches of government work? What do the checks and balances mean?

Above all, urge them to take care of their mental health.

Like 9/11, this is a scary time in America right now — on top of a pandemic. Our kids are understandably anxious and upset. My younger daughter drew this picture the night of the 6th. Another GenZer told me that she was not surprised about what happened, just sad.

This is who we are as America. We have to come to terms with it, but we must impress upon our children that the rule of law will prevail.

Because it must.

And we must demand it.

Call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224–3121 to share your views.

Creating a greener world. CEO Heather White Strategies. Past CEO of Yellowstone Forever & ED of EWG, Hill staffer. Eco-anxiety expert. www.heatherwhite.com

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