Complex Parenting in a Complex World

Colin Kaepernick: A current hot topic of conversation in my household with my children. Their questions: Why was he kneeling? Is that unpatriotic? Do you like him? Is everyone mad at him?

The questions go on and on. Personally, I do not believe in kneeling for the National Anthem, only because it would not be how I would take a stand against situations that are occurring in this nation that promote inequality and are unjust. However, I believe it’s anyone’s constitutional right to have the choice to kneel, as it is to stand. Why do I believe this? It’s simple: this country was founded on the premise that all men are created equal, endowed by their creator, with certain unalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Liberty!!! Sweet liberty, which means the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views.

I love what our country stands for and what it was founded on, and I am patriotic, but I still wouldn’t chose to kneel even though I believe unjust actions are occurring in our nation. With that said, I also don’t view kneeling as a gesture of disrespect, so personally I find the outrage behind this a bit misconstrued. So is this what I tell my kids?

When all these questions started coming my way, I had to stop and think hard before answering. Why? My voice to my kids is powerful; it can inform their opinions, and opinions can become beliefs. What does that mean for our nation if the home is the first place that strong beliefs are formed?

With all of the extremely strong opinions about this situation, I don’t know. But I do know this: I have friends of different races, nationalities, religions, etc and although most of them say they don’t feel that they are oppressed or that they live in a racist world, who am I to say some people don’t feel that way or aren’t being treated that way just because I don’t know them personally? I can’t. I’m not them. I know challenges that I have faced as a female, so I can relate to unfairness at one time or another. But does that translate to taking a knee during the National Anthem?

Maybe for some.

So, how do you answer these questions when your kids look to you for guidance? Do you take a firm stance that it is unpatriotic if that’s your belief?

In my workplace, I am driven to express my views with strength and passion. What I believe to be ‘right’—for the client, for the company, for the bottom line—is what I say. Sometimes over and over until it’s heard. With my children, what I believe to be ‘right’ in a situation like this is more delicate. It’s not a matter of hitting vs. not hitting or sharing vs. not sharing. My opinion on this matter might not be what my own child comes to believe. And maybe, as a parent, it is not my job to teach them this particular belief.

What would happen if we took more of a stance to understand and educate than place our own opinions on our kids?

I want my kids to understand both sides of all stories and come to their own conclusions. So when my oldest son asked Why would he do that? I told him that he should try to understand the feelings of all people, and that we could read online about Kaepernick’s mindset and his choice to kneel. Protests and movements have strong convictions behind them, what if we try to understand those convictions instead of saying what’s right or wrong? We all have different ways of standing up for what we believe in. My kids will form their own beliefs without asking me questions at some point in their lives, and maybe some will be the same as mine (and undoubtedly some will be different).

I’m fine with that; we love our children no matter what. But what if we could find a way to feel the same about others and not just the people we love? What if this nation had more of an understanding of each other? Wouldn’t we have a chance at less division? I can’t fix the world, I can’t fix division, but I can teach my kids to try to understand our differences and be open-minded about how others use their freedoms. The opinions and views we place on our children have the ability to deepen division or make it better.