Nazis in Charlottesville: What do we tell our children?

Whenever something horrific happens — murder, war, terrorism, etc. — I have only one lens from which to view it. I view it from the vantage point of a father.

Before having children, I never took myself seriously enough to listen, learn, and feel from things as serious as those atrocities, let alone form an actual opinion. But, ever since these little girls changed the way I see, think about, and react to everything, my listening, learning, and opinions have changed dramatically.

This has never been more evident than when dealing with the aftermath of the Charlottesville, Va. terror attack.

I made a personal decision during the 2016 Presidential election to refrain from much political discussion with mostly everyone — and especially those on the opposite sides of my beliefs. I felt and still feel that there was and is so much division that the chances of conversations ending positively are significantly less than them ending in arguments, friendships lost, and family ties severed.

With that said, things are undoubtedly different now. We’re well past the point of simple political discussion. From what I’ve seen from Charlottesville, things have moved well beyond political differences and we’ve entered into a civil and human rights spiral that is, frankly, terrifying.

Thinking about the events of the last few days from the vantage point of a Dad makes it even more terrifying.

Have you seen the various footage circulating? Have you watched the Vice News documentary? If not, please do. It’s embedded below if you haven’t seen it yet.

I decided to write this post after watching the Vice piece. Why? Because that made everything much more real than anything for me — even the cell-phone footage of the car driving into the crowd.

In my logical mind, the horrific terror attack that occurred when the car rammed through a group of protestors was simply the act of a mad man. I think that’s probably how many of us come to terms with some of the crazy shit we see on the news and interwebs nowadays. But, to see in the Vice documentary that these people believe what they’re doing and how they’re doing it is just, right, and logical has made it all too real.

As a man, I’m terrified, pissed, and inspired.

But, what do we tell our children? What do black parents, Jewish parents tell their kids? After seeing that footage, I don’t even know where to start.

I feel fortunate that my kids are too young to be instantly exposed to this news, its commentary, and — of course — the footage. But, I feel for the mothers and fathers of children too old to avoid exposure but too young to rationalize it in their heads.

Frankly, I’m not even sure the point of this post. I just know that, as a Dad, shit is incredibly screwed up on so many levels and at every corner right now, and thought I should share.

I thought we were past this, better than this. I guess not. I hope that this mess doesn’t blow up even more than it already has, but something tells me things are going to get a whole lot worse before they begin to get better.

Are you a parent of a young child that was exposed to these events? If so, how have you discussed it? We’d love to know.

Ben Larsen

Written by: Ben Larsen

Ben is one of the founders here at First Time Father Project. Follow Ben's trial-by-fire parenting here with columns, essays and more. Learn more about him here.

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