The other day a young couple was walking by our house with their new puppy and their 14-year-old daughter. As I was petting the dog, I asked her if wearing a mask was a ‘bummer cloud’.
She said, “Not too much” and added that her mom said it was the right thing to do. I then asked her if she was going to wear it when school started. She said she would because she did not want to get anybody sick.
It was quite nice running into a family who apparently talk with their children which is different than talking to their children.
Maybe the seriousness of COVID catalyzed a conversation between them, but without some respect from and for each other this wonderful, agreed understanding between them would not likely have occurred. Wearing a mask was indeed going to impact her daily interaction with friends and understanding why it was “ the right thing to do” gave her the commitment to do it.
We can build better and better bridges to children as life unfolds if we remain committed to truly exchanging information, emotion, and ideas with genuine respect for them and their challenges. Stay tuned in and actively pursue open discussion with your children . . . they will respect it and use it if it is truthful and emotionally honest. Remember to hold space for their opinions and thoughts. Doing so expresses respect for them and their individualism.