Today’s post is by Momentous parent educator, Alma Villareal.
As adults try to make sense of the growing conflict in Ukraine, many are wondering how to talk about it with children. We have several resources on this, including 10 tips for talking to kids about war, how to talk about war in the classroom, and how to prepare yourself for conversations about war with kids.
And yet there is another piece of the conversation that is really important. It is the part about our shared humanity and empathy for others.
When we talk about large topics such as war, it can be easy to forget about the human beings who are caught up in the conflict. We say things like, “Russia invaded Ukraine”, and we overlook the fact that Russia and Ukraine are made up of individuals, human beings just like us. Most of these people are not making these decisions, they simply live in a part of the world where these decisions are being made for them by their governments.
People in these countries are not necessarily at war, though their countries may be. As neighboring countries, many people may have family or loved ones who live in one or the other countries. They may not agree with decisions being made by their government. The individuals, on either side of the conflict, are not evil or bad. Most of them want what we all want – to be with their loved ones, to strive for a better future.
War is a messy and complicated thing. But it is important to remember that war itself is driven by policies and power, not by the individuals, the families, the workers, the teachers, the children, the people just like us who are finding themselves caught in the conflict.
When discussing war with children, it can be helpful to remind them of this shared humanity. That people across the world – whether they look like us or not, whether their cities look like ours or not, whether we can relate to them or not – are like us. That we share a common humanity, and that we have to remember that in order to work together for a brighter future.