When do you think is the best age to start talking to a child about the sad realities of our existence, such as racism, sexism, anti-semitism, homophobia, etc.?
In my opinion, it makes sense to tell a kid that these things exist at around the age of 9-10.
I grew up in the Soviet Union, in a regime that my parents hated passionately. They experienced anti-Semitism and read forbidden authors. My father listened in a clandestine manner to the BBC and Voice of America at night. However, they never shared their feelings about the regime with me. They let me grow up believing that we lived in the best country possible. I devoured children’s stories about the kind Grandpa Lenin who loved little kids and saved sick hedgehogs. I was a happy child who wasn’t tortured by insecurities and anxieties about things I was yet not equipped to understand.
When I was 10, my mother had the first cautious talk with me about the history of the Soviet Union. She talked to me in a way that made me understand certain things about our historic legacy but that didn’t scare me or make me feel despondent.
I know people whose parents talked to them about the life in the Soviet Union in very negative terms from a very early age. I honestly don’t see how these hard, painful truths enriched those kids’ existences.
“A child needs to know that she lives in a happy, warm, welcoming universe,” my father always says. “Then, when she grows up, the realization that bad things exist will not break her. She will still have her memories of happiness and security that will carry her through the rest of her life.”
What do you think?