Matt Marton / AP
For many parents, breaking news that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade means facing some questions from their children. And those are some of their own questions.
The NPR audience submitted their questions, asking for advice. We called Reena B. Patel, a parenting specialist and licensed educational psychologist in San Diego, California, and Dr. Elise Berlan, a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist. teens in Columbus, Ohio, to help start these conversations.
Here’s your question, and what the experts advise.
“The 9-year-old was just a little confused as to why anyone would want an abortion. And she didn’t understand what was going to happen when they got it. Where was the baby going? Who took it away? It was very many questions that I don’t know how to answer.”
– Jacqueline Cuevas, Detroit, Michigan
BERLAN: I can think of talking about how some parents need to end a pregnancy and that ending a pregnancy can be better, healthier and safer for parents. So I tend to use all kinds of pregnancy terms and don’t talk much about the baby, even though that may be where the baby is going.
I think it’s okay for parents, after they share what abortion is – provided they are comfortable sharing – to let young people know that people have different views on abortion. . Also, I think it’s perfectly normal for parents to share their views because young people actually look to parents for upholding values.
“I wanted it to be age-appropriate. I didn’t want to go into too much detail about what it actually was, just to know that she could choose whether she wanted to have a baby or not.”
– Meg Workman, Indiana
PATEL: It’s important to find out what your child already knows. But use that guiding perspective to ask your child something simple, even “Do you know where babies come from?” But do it the way they’re actually guiding that conversation, and you’re almost the scaffolding. You are filling in the pieces.
Parents understand their children best. It’s not something you feel compelled to do. But do you understand, by the time your child reaches school age, history is already being taught. They are learning about current affairs, current events, so having natural conversations is very important.
“How do you invite your child to grapple with really complex, painful, non-black and white questions in a way that’s curious and compassionate, that doesn’t just encourage them to accept what you think about the problem? this?”
– Meg Embry, Colorado
PATEL: What I would really recommend is, first, really understand where you are in this whole process. What is your opinion? What are your feelings? A lot of things have increased emotionally on a high level with the results and upside down of Roe v. Wade.
So test yourself first, then allow that openness and test, empathize, validate what your child says.
I think it’s important for parents to use the words, “I feel, I see, I hear.” For what do you do that? It shares and shows the respectful dialogue that is taking place and that you are letting your child know that you really hear what they are saying, even though you may have opposing views or opinions.
“We live in a very conservative area. All of my family living nearby are religious and they certainly have opposing views to me on abortion. And I wanted her to learn to be tactful when it comes to abortion. talk about the matter if it never even shows up.”
– James Memmott, Kaysville, Utah
PATEL: It’s a great life lesson to teach kids that you can have any opinion you have. There is no right or wrong. So it’s important to allow them to voice their own opinions, but be respectful of others. And then where and when to have conversations with individuals.
“One concern is making sure that [my 14-year-old-son] understand how these measures affect the person with prolapse, he is a man, and his choices and responsibilities regarding family planning. “
– ShaMecha Simms, Topeka, Kansas
Ernest Drake II
BERLAN: You know, we talked about – in our family – abortion with our sons. And there is no perfect time or perfect conversation. This is a journey. And I think if parents wait for the perfect moment or when they have all the information, the risk is that they won’t talk. And someone will. So I think as parents, we want to share our values and share the information we have and our views with our children. Have them prepare for conversations and process this information within the safety of their family first.
PATEL: It can be very overwhelming. We must give children, especially young children, time to process and come back to questions. And we have families with children of different ages, so I think it’s very important to think about what our kids are hearing when the older kids are talking. And do you want, as a parent, to have some one-on-one dialogue just separate from the older kids so they can hear it? Share things that are appropriate for their age.
The audio for this episode was produced by Karen Zamora and Erika Ryan, with technical assistance from Natasha Branch. We’d love to hear from you! Email us at the address or send a voice note to [email protected].
This has been adapted for the web by Lauren Hodges.