In a landmark decision last June, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, affirming the American credo that liberty and the pursuit of happiness is every American's birthright. As this legislation celebrates its first "birthday," it's essential that you find ways to talk to your kids about the SCOTUS anniversary, and it's importance.
At a time when there are still many hate-crimes being perpetrated against the LGBTQ community, the legislation of gay marriage marks an historic time in American culture. And due to the most recent shooting in Orlando, your child has probably heard about hate crimes and, and, therefore, is thinking about them. It's very likely your kid is wondering how and why such a heinous crime could occur. As a parent, you want to carve out time to discuss how your kid is processing news of hate-crimes, because, unfortunately, this is the world in which your child is growing up. But, alongside the tragedies, there are milestones of love that America displays towards all its citizens, and the legalization of gay marriage is one of them.
This year, on June 27, the United States will celebrate the one year anniversary of the legalization of gay marriage, and it couldn't come at a better time for Americans. You might be wondering when to start the dialogue with your kid. But let me remind you that it's never too early to spread the message that love is love. The following suggestions cover ways you can converse with your child about the importance of this landmark anniversary.
1. Use Your Diverse Circle Of Family And Friends As Examples
There's a very high chance that you're friends or family with a gay couple. CNN recommended using people you know as an entree into discussing gay marriage. You may have even attended their wedding ceremony with your kid. The same CNN article noted to remind your kid of the wedding, and add that now the government acknowledges their union.
2. Ask Them What They Know About Gay Marriage
When I teach, I employ the Socratic method, which is to open discussion with questions, and let the kids steer the discussion, as opposed to me bombarding them with facts. This method might work well for you too. Let your kid take the lead, and ask him or her what he or she knows and believes about marriage, gay marriage and love. As this video proves, you might be very surprised at what kids these days know.
3. Use A Story Book
Books can be a very useful tool to talk to your child about social-political issues like the SCOTUS decision. The Child Development Institute noted that as a parent, you want to talk to your child in ways he or she will listen. Reading books are ideal for creating a captivated audience, especially if, as the Child Development Institute recommended, you check your kid's understanding of the story. Romper compiled a list of child-friendly LGBTQ books that are inclusive of all types of families. According to Scholastic, books can elicit strong emotional responses, so be prepared to discuss how the characters, storyline, or book's ending made your kid feel.
4. Go The Historical Route
Older kids are probably learning about American history in school. Whether you take your lead from a news headline or school assignment, it's important to review the history that led up to the SCOTUS decision, and talk about it with your kid. Additionally, as Upworthy noted, you might want to talk about all the ways that the struggle for same-sex couples isn't over. Pride is all about the resilience of the LGBTQ community and those who support it to keep fighting for civil rights. Isn't that an awesome lesson to impart to your kid?
5. Use This As An Opportunity To Teach Your Kid About Love
Parents noted that you should teach your child about love by age five. Notes in his or her lunchbox expressing love, hugs for no reason, and explaining the importance of self-care (like how important it is to brush your teeth) are all examples of teaching your kid love by example. You can also use talk about SCOTUS and how hard people fought for its legalization as the ultimate expression of love, and how sometimes you have to fight for the right to love.
The lesson here: love is always worth the struggle.
6. Use This As An Opportunity To Teach Your Kids About Empathy
OK, maybe you don't know anyone in your community who is in a same-sex couple. Maybe you don't even know if you believe in same-sex marriage. This is a great opportunity to put yourself in another person's shoes, and experience empathy. As Rick Weissbourd, the co-director of the Making Caring Common Project, explained in Motherlode, the importance of teaching empathy to kids.
He explained empathy as the ability for people to "respect and understand another person’s views, even when they don’t agree with them." This is such an important lesson that you and your child can learn together by celebrating the one-year anniversary of SCOTUS, even if you're not sure you believe in it.
7. Use Humor If Your Kid Is Savvy And Sophisticated
There are those precocious kids who are always one step ahead of you. They probably read the newspaper and know more about your iPad apps than you do. Given this type of child's personality, he or she probably already knows about the legalization of gay marriage — and is probably schooling his or her peers. However, that doesn't mean you should skip the conversation. "Technology is not a sufficient substitute for the language-rich environment created through simple parent-child interactions," Dr. Lisa Bedore, professor and director of the speech-language pathology program at the University of Texas at Austin, told Huffington Post. You can even use humor to trade info with your savvy child; just make sure that you're talking.