I saw this very relatable quote on Twitter yesterday. After the disruption of Covid-19 (which we need to remember, is still ongoing), what so many of us crave is stability – but the world doesn’t seem keen to deliver at the moment. There are two things currently dominating the UK news: Putin’s war on Ukraine, which continues to appal and send shockwaves across the world, and the new UK Government’s mic-drop budget last week which has sent the stock markets and economy haywire. By all accounts, these are not situations with a quick fix.
One thing I have been struggling to figure out is how much to talk to my children about what’s going on. Should I slam the off button on the radio when they wander into the kitchen? My instinct is to shelter them from harsh reality. But kids are quick to pick up on an atmosphere, and yesterday I found myself in the car with both of my children, with the news blasting out of the speakers. One of them announced:
“I don’t trust Liz Truss.”
“Because her name sounds like ‘mistrust’.”
It made me chuckle, but I realised they had certainly picked up the national mood. The very concept of government has become an unknown quantity. This observation felt like a good starting point to talk about the Government’s actions, the effect on the economy and what it might mean for us and the people around us. As I was attempting to explain (and realising how poor my understanding of economics is!) I came to the conclusion that it’s better to prepare them to live in the world as we now know it, rather than pretending we live in simpler times. Obviously, there are some things that it is inappropriate to talk with children about, but I realised I need to give them a safe space to share the things they observe and how it makes them feel. I tried to be as measured and balanced as I could in my answers to their questions, but their response was one of indignation. I think kids can see injustice more clearly than we adults can.
Uncertainty and threat seem like a poor environment for growth, but they can provide an opportunity for us, and our children, to develop resilience, compassion and perspective. And perhaps a desire to act where we see injustice.
I am aware of the privilege of this post, and that there are millions of people around the world who have known homelessness and food insecurity as normality their whole lives. I wonder if the fact that our world of comfort is being disrupted will cause a shift in the way those of us with the privilege of security view basic needs? I certainly feel more grateful for every meal, every night in the comfort of my bed and every loving friendship.
When I catch the latest analysis on the news, I find my thoughts wander to other people more than they usually would. Families at school who have many mouths to feed. People I know who might struggle to pay their mortgage if interest rates rise. Friends whose rent is likely to increase while their wages do not.
As we face another disruption to the world we are used to, life will change hugely for so many people. My hope for both me and my children is that we will grow in compassion. Although my mind currently craves the comfort of the ‘precedented’, I’m choosing to believe that from this more difficult environment, my own perspective will shift. There is so much that I have taken for granted.