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How to talk to your children about the riot at the Capitol

"It’s a sad day in history."
APTOPIX Congress Electoral College
Posted at 11:03 AM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 11:26:16-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Rioters at the U.S Capitol. The powerful images flooded airwaves and social media. It was a surreal event that Henrico mom Noma Samee is still trying to process.

She was too shaken Wednesday to even talk about it with her children. She and her husband made plans to sit down for that discussion on Thursday.

"There are a lot of lessons that can be learned and even as parents, there is a lot of pain," Samee explained. "So, it’s a matter of taking time to absorb what happened and figure out what happened and how best to have the conversation with our children.”

Chesterfield mom Christy Burton-Omarzai, said her children immediately brought up race - taking note of rioters forcing their way into the Capitol and how they were treated versus scenes they remember from Black Lives Matter protests this past summer.

"They said 'mommy what if they were BLM protesters? They would not have been treated like this.' They said the news images we’ve seen of that are very different than this. One of my kids even said they were disappointed in humanity. It’s a sad day in history to have to witness on the brink of 2021 what we saw yesterday,” Burton-Omarzai said.

Melody Barnes agrees. She spent years on the DC political scene, formerly working in the Obama Administration. Her day to day work continues as she helps lead UVA’s Democracy Initiative.

She understands the difficulty parents face explaining this to children and says her message would be that its necessary for citizens to protect our democracy.

"That a focus on fact and reason and reasonable debate, on the rule of law on tolerance are key democratic principles and values. We are the keepers of that flame, and yesterday is what happens when we don’t protect it,” Barnes added.

As some parents worry about the messaging to children, Barnes says we should also be concerned about the message this scene sent to the world.

"The hallmark of democracy is the peaceful transfer of power. It is something we have tried to protect in other parts of the world. We weren’t able to completely protect completely in the United States of America on yesterday,” Barnes added.