Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Seattle Eastside
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I don't know that you need to talk about it with kids under 2.
But the blunt reality is that in pretty much every country/culture I can think of, there is plenty of uncomfortable history in there.
Once my kids were preschool age, we started to talk about "other stories" alongside the traditional holidays. A big one in the US (IMO) is Thanksgiving. We started learning more about the first people in the area where the settlers came, and how there were many native american nations who had different languages and customs in different areas, just like there were people from many different parts of europe who made up the different colonies and settlements in the colonial era. Once my kids were able to ask what happened to the native american nations, we've been weaving in the not so nice aspects of the story.
This 4th of July for the first time we also explored different aspects of the revolutionary war as well. How the separatist colonists did not win on their own (they had significant help from France), how not all the colonists agreed and that there was a bit of fighting amongst the colonists in addition to the colonists against the ruling government. And how in war many times people do evil things to one another--and our revolutionary war was no different, even though we believe that we needed to fight that war to bring about our country, we shouldn't forget that it comes at a very high cost.
My kids are old enough to ask questions about stuff they hear about on the radio. Because of the U.S election this past year, they had a lot of questions about what a Mormon was (and why people were saying they didn't like them), what people meant when they said that they wanted a "Christian" leader and how come some people said that so and so wasn't a "real" Christian, ect. So we talked about and learned about some of the history of sectarian violence and prejudice in our country as well.
I don't really see how you can avoid talking about sectarian violence when it's been a significant part of modern history. But I also think it's a good idea to take it slow, do some guiding but mostly take your cues from the kids.
I don't know how history is taught in other countries, but in the U.S. it's extremely shoddy, shockingly so considering how relatively young our country is! I see so many people being misled or ignorant of our own history and that leading in to further problems. You could avoid ever talking about historical events and tensions with your kids, but you can't avoid them finding out about it.