It seems like every day the news is brimming with tragic stories. From school shootings, to climate change and a gripping economic recession, there is no shortage of events that bring into question the future of humanity. But if there is a silver lining to having lived through the brutal news cycle of the past few years it's this: Millennial parents are better equipped to teach their kids about tragedy than previous generations.
It's been no walk in the park growing up as a millennial in the United States. Many millennials will tell you that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a coming of age moment for the generation. For some, it was the first time they saw their parents scared, in the moments after the towers collapsed, as the country held their breath for whatever came next.
As teenagers and young adults, they were thrust along with the rest of the country into an unpopular and costly war, only to graduate in the midst of one of the worst recessions in America's history.
Add to that, the gun violence epidemic that's grown worse with each passing year, the ever-present treat of terrorism, and the scary revelations of police brutality. If there's ever been a generation equipped to talk to their kids about tragedy, it's this one.
Not only have millennials witnessed more tragedies than other generations, but these tragedies have hit close to home. Unlike their parents and grandparents, who knew of war only from grainy images in living-room television sets and radios, millennials are constantly bombarded with images of death and tragedy. These are not abstract tragedies a world away. Photos of Syrian refugees, snapchats from inside mass shootings and live video from terror sites are in the palm of their hands.
This likely makes millennials empathetic to suffering (despite some studies that claim millennials, as a whole, are less empathetic) When explaining complex tragedies to their kids, millennials can offer multiple perspectives. Their kids won't just learn about America's strategy in war in Iraq in their history textbooks. They will understand the impact of the country's decisions from the perspective of the Iraqi people, of the families who have lost loved ones and the troops who have had to live far from home. A report by The New York Times supports this suggestion, noting that while unscientific in nature, millennials as a whole tend to come off as more open, more empathetic to others, and more in tune with ideas that benefit the majority.
Social media has also allowed millennials to see how tragedies can bring people together and inspire social change, whether it be a Democratic sit-in in the White House after a mass shooting, or donations pouring in for terror victims in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.
Having lived through and processed these events, millennials are well equipped to help their own children deal with what may be a more violent, but will inevitably be a more connected world.