October 30, 2023

Hard conversations…

Yasmine Hammad
How to talk to your children about Palestine.

      I am writing to you today with a broken heart, from the devastation happening in Palestine. As a mom – but first as a HUMAN – these events are bringing a lot of secondary trauma, devastation and sadness to myself and others around me.

     This article is not about politics or our shattered hearts, it is about how to speak to your children about these events.  I would like to remind you that there is no perfect way to deliver such news to your child. Try to check in with yourself  and your body first, ground yourself if you are experiencing anger or frustration before you start talking to your children. From research and wonderful Middle Eastern experts, I was able to put the below together; grateful for their wisdom and deep insight.


Dr. Hanaa Ghannoum, phd in Early Childhood and Parents’ Coach provides great advice on her social media accounts stressing that traumatic events, the specifics of the situation, and feelings of fear can be extremely overwhelming for our children.

So if your child is under 6,
they don't need to hear all the details. If children are not exposed and are unaware, it's better not to bring it up. However, if your child asks you a question and notices your feelings, answer their question in a simple way.

Here is a guiding script: "I know you have noticed that I am feeling sad more often lately. I'm feeling sad and angry because there is a lot of injustice happening in this world, and no one is doing anything to stop it. It's okay to feel sad and angry; that's a sign that I am a human and I care about other people. I still love you and will take care of you!"

For Children Ages 7 and Older: s
tart by listening and asking open-ended questions.What have you heard? How do you feel? What's on your mind? What are you worried about?

This allows your child to express what's in their hearts, what's on their minds, and what they've heard before introducing new information. It's essential to tell the truth, using real words to build trust and awareness. It's always more powerful when we are honest and authentic when talking to our children about tricky topics.

For Children Ages 8+ who have been exposed to news:
"I know you've been listening to us talking about what's happening in Gaza. This is something really serious and very sad, and it's completely normal if this topic brings up a lot of feelings. Whatever you feel and whatever questions you have, I'm here with you. If you're feeling confused, that makes sense too. {Enter your script or explanation for historical events and what is happening at the moment} This is big news, and might hear many people talking about it. I want you to know that I'm always here to talk about anything and everything.'


Rania Hussant
, Certified Mindful Parent Educator and Life Coach, urges us – parents - to take this as an opportunity to explain that God’s intention are always rooted in goodness and grace.  But the poverty, wars, injustices, etc are man-made unfortunately. All of us humans possess light and darkness within ourselves. The essence of why we are here is to triumph the inner goodness over the evil side in us. And as mentioned at the end of Rania’s clip, “this is our role as parents to raise compassionate mindful beings in order to create a better world in the future”.


Here is a heartwarming conversation between Dr. Saliha Afridi, Clinical Psychologist and Founder of the Lighthouse Arabia and her 18 years old daughter that she shared on her platforms.

My daughter said, 'Mama it hurts too much when I think about Palestine. Should I try to stop thinking about it and stop feeling it?'

I told her, 'Your heart is a muscle. If you want to have a strong heart, you cannot shut down or hide from the difficult feelings. It is an honor of a lifetime to feel the grief and suffering of another. If you have been chosen to feel it, then you have to step up, lean in, and feel it."

I told her, "you don't get a strong heart by protecting your heart. You get a strong heart by 'lifting' these painful and difficult feelings. And just like at the gym, you can't go in lifting 100lbs of grief and sorrow, it will injure you and leave you no good for anyone... at first you will only be able to handle 10lbs of grief and sorrow... but keep showing up, keep feeling... keep breaking... Every time you heart breaks, it strengthens."

I told her, "Yes, don't be afraid to let your heart break for another human's suffering... in such instances do not protect your heart. This is what makes you human. But know that is not for the undisciplined or the faint at heart... If you agree to stay open, to not shut down and to lift these painful feelings, then you have to commit to holding space for your pain. You have to be fiercely self-compassionate and gentle with yourself. You have to pace yourself.

I told my daughter, "the work of grief is the work of activism and of soul making. It is deep and profound. It's not about fleeting moments of empathy, but a deep and lifelong commitment to compassion and advocacy. It's a promise to feel the pain and the sorrow of the world and know that you have been chosen as one of the people on this earth through which past, present, personal and collective grief will be addressed, metabolized and healed. It is a noble act and that requires a strong will and brave heart.

I told her, "So no, don't stop feeling... because the future of humanity is literally in the hands of people like you... people like you who feel pain when others hurt.... Who stay connected to humanity when hate seems to be trending.... The only hope for humanity is in the hands of people like you who are devastated by what is happening in Palestine right now... people like you who confront the painful truths about our world and let that truth pierce them deeply enough so that they are moved to do something to correct it.”

“So keep feeling.”


- Read more books about Palestine with your children.
- If age appropriate (teens), watch short documentaries like “The present’ on Netflix by Farah Nabulsi.
- Have that talk about justice and the importance of that value in your family.
- Share knowledgeable post and historical facts about the Palestinian culture with your family and friends.
- Use local brands, while gently explaining to your children why as a family, you are doing that.

     Our pain is woven in the very own fabric of our society and the coming generations. To raise a conscious generation, we need to share our feelings and values with them and allow them to share, question and express their own.

     My wish for you is that you find some of the suggestions and wordings in the article helpful and inspiring to have that hard conversation with your children. Sending you and your families so much love and kindness.