Culture, Feature Story, Motherhood

#MarchForOurLives and Talking Gun Violence with My Teens

Did you march this weekend or watch any of the marches on TV?

I watched some of the Washington, D.C. #MarchForOurLives on Twitter’s live feed. I was really proud of all of the young people who shared their stories and marched for a cause that is so important during this time in American history.

It reminded me so much of my own teenagers and how amazed I am at their intellect each time they share with me their thoughts on life and other matters which are important to them. Teenagers are often overlooked and given a bad rep before even given a chance. If more adults would take the time to listen, they will find that teens are very intelligent and have wonderful ideas.

With everything that has been going on with gun violence awareness, it got me to thinking about all of the important talks I have had with my teens so far. We’ve had “the talk” aka the sex talk. It’s actually an on-going conversation because we discuss relationship issues and various topics related to puberty and sex education.

We’ve had the “what do you want to do after graduation” talk. Another on-going conversation in our family. We are continuously talking about the race issue in America. And we’ve had the religion talk because we’re a Christian family and we want to raise our children as Christians (and most importantly, to love and respect all people no matter our differences).

 

I never thought I’d have to have a talk about gun violence and school shootings with my children.

 

But I never thought I’d have to have a talk about gun violence and school shootings. Never. I’m not saying prior to the tragic shootings in Las Vegas, Texas, and Florida the world was perfect and there wasn’t any violence. I’m just saying I never thought I’d have to say to my teens, “There was another school shooting today,” or “Did you hear about the mass shooting at the church in…?”  I am still shocked by all of this. This is not the world I want my children to grow up in.

And yet, this is where we are now. Young people walking out of school to protest our laws (or lack thereof) on gun control. Our children should not have to protest for our government to keep them safe, and I shouldn’t have to have a discussion with my children about gun violence or any type of violence. It’s disheartening and frightening, to say the least.

 

I raise my teens to be aware of the world around them and to let their voice be heard when they need to speak up.

 

Talking Gun Violence with My Teens

So I talked with Elijah and Michala about gun violence and the school shootings. Even though we are a homeschooling family, I still feel it is important for us to discuss these issues. My teens know I feel it’s important for them to know what is going on in our community, our country, and our world. I raise them to be aware of the world around them and to let their voice be heard when they need to speak up.

Just like millions of Americans, our hearts hurt each time we hear about a school shooting. As a parent, it is so scary to hear of these tragedies, whether the violence occurs in a school or in a neighborhood. Something has to be done. Too many lives are being lost.

What did we discuss?

We discussed what the second amendment means and the differing opinions on gun control.

Elijah and Michala shared with me their thoughts on gun ownership.

I asked them what their thoughts were on what happened and how they felt about the protests.

They shared with me what they think the solutions could be for the gun violence issue and how to keep students safe in schools.

I made sure to give them all of the facts that I knew of the issues and the protest. I like to encourage my kids to take time to research issues on their own, too. I shared with them what I believe and I made sure to take the time to listen to their feelings. I feel it’s important that they also find information on their own and they don’t always rely on Travis and me for the info. Elijah and Michala are always sharing with us information or a news story they read about or watched on TV. It makes for a great family discussion about issues that are on their mind.

 

I talked with Elijah and Michala about gun violence and the school shootings. Even though we are a homeschooling family, I still feel it is important for us to discuss these issues.

 

Naomi Wadler’s Moving Speech 

I showed Elijah Naomi Wadler’s speech and he was so amazed by her words and the way she carried herself. Elijah said, “I thought it was a really good speech and her speech moves my heart to focus on what’s important in life. And what’s most important is keeping people safe and ending violence.”

“I think that it’s really important that she’s representing African American girls that were killed and hurt because it’s important to show that African American girls are the same as any other girls. There’s nothing wrong with them because of the color of their skin. I also thought it was really good that Naomi had said the girls’ names rather than talking about them as a group in general because it gives each individual life that was lost meaning.” #SayHerName

During her speech, Naomi said she was at the march to represent Courtlin Arrington, Hadiya Pendleton, and Taiyania Thompson three African American teenagers who so tragically lost their lives to gun violence.

“I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper, whose stories don’t lead on the evening news. I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant beautiful girls full of potential.” Naomi Walder, age 11

Naomi also led a protest walkout at her school in Alexandria, Virginia for National School Walkout Day. Watching Naomi give her speech was very moving to me. I’m not even her mother or family member and yet I felt so proud of her. What a very brave thing Naomi and all of the wonderful youth did at the #MarchForOurLives march across the globe!

 

Naomi Wadler (Photo courtesy March for Our Lives)

 

I hope #MarchForOurLives will encourage adults to take the time to listen to our teenagers and young people more. They really do know what they are talking about. My own children have amazed me with their thoughts on numerous issues going on in our world. I learn from them every single day and each of my children has made me a better person.

But most importantly, I hope the #MarchForOurLives movement will encourage our government to find solutions to the gun violence and other violent crimes that are killing so many people in this country. It is our responsibility to protect our children and keep them safe. We have to do more for them.

Here is an article from Mental Health America about “Talking to Your Kids About Fear and Violence”. There are great tips on how to have a conversation with your children about violence.

 

What are your thoughts on gun violence and #MarchForOurLives?

 

 

 

Just for you — an exclusive interview with Dr. Drew Pinsky about mental health and gun violence in America. Also, meet my family if you haven’t had the chance to yet.

 

 

Feature image courtesy of March For Our Lives

 

What are your thoughts?