“Politics and the Teenage Mind" Transcript

Guest: Dr. Lisa Damour

(Listen to the audio on the episode page.)

Lisa Damour: Something I’m working really hard as a parent to do is to prevent contempt. Liberals can be extraordinarily contemptuous of people who don’t share their views.

Michael Epstein: Welcome to another episode of Mind of State. I’m Michael Epstein.

Betty Teng: And I’m Betty Teng. And together we are your hosts for Mind of State, a podcast for both political junkies and armchair shrinks. Hi, Michael.

Michael: Hey, Betty.

Betty: I’m so pleased and honored to introduce this week’s guest who I happen to have met in my late teens. Dr. Lisa Damour is a psychologist with an expertise in children and adolescents. She has written numerous academic papers, chapters, and books related to education and child development and is the author of The New York Times bestselling books Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood and, most recently, Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls. She writes the monthly adolescents column for The New York Times, serves as a regular contributor to CBS News, maintains a private psychotherapy practice, consults, and speaks internationally. Welcome to Mind of State, Lisa.

Lisa: Thank you for having me. I’m just, I’m thrilled to be here.

Michael: You’re welcome, Lisa.

Lisa: Thank you.

Betty: Recently, Slate editor Dahlia Lithwick had an email conversation with you on Slate, and she gets to the heart of the concerns that a lot of parents have with teen kids on a lot of social political issues these days. So Dahlia says, “My kids seem to be growing up in a world of near paralyzing cultural dread. They’re trying to understand movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo while being flattened and numbed by school shootings, lockdowns, and protests. They can’t seem to wriggle out from under the specter of authoritarianism and threat that characterizes this presidency. Or, as my 15-year-old put it a few weeks ago, after yet another depressing dinner conversation: ‘Living with you guys has been very taxing on me. Your pessimism has been very crushing. Really, I’m just trying to bring back the love.’” Which is terrible.

Lisa: So sweet.

Betty: But what she gets at here is that our anxiety as adults impacts our teens’ anxieties and states of mind, at least that’s what I read in this as a reader and a person who’s tuned to anxiety professionally. But where are the adults? Like, how do we juggle and contain our own stresses so that we can help our kids, in particular our teens, who are growing to be more aware of the world as their brains develop and learn to manage them. You’ve been traveling the country and you’ve been focusing on this, particularly with girls, and the anxiety in them as you state very expansively in your book, Under Pressure, speaks to this. So can you say something about that?

Lisa: Sure. And I’m a mom myself, right, so I sort of have to navigate this question of, you know, how do I manage my own discomfort about whatever is going on politically in the context of sort of life at home. And my older daughter is 15 and my younger daughter is eight, and my older daughter is very plugged in and very aware and very tuned in to the world around her. So I think about this with, kind of, different perspectives, both my clinical professional one and then also my life at home one. In terms of the broader kind of cultural political phenomenon, I cannot find a justification for terrifying children. That’s sort of where I start. I’ve had conversations at times with parents who feel obliged to give a very unfiltered account to their child of their current state of concern and the gravity of their concerns. And it’s just, it’s left me feeling uneasy and also uneasy about my own uneasiness with it, because a part of me is like, you know, we’re honest with kids, we don’t soft-pedal stuff.

And yet kids are helpless. And I know a lot of adults feel helpless, too. But at some level, we actually have more power. We’re voting. We can donate to causes we care about. We’re not entirely helpless. And that’s how we manage a lot of our discomfort, whereas kids really are quite helpless and the job of adults is to shield them at times, if not often. And so as I’ve tried to navigate this both clinically and as a mom, I’ve come to sort of an uneasy peace with the idea that I don’t need to give my kids a totally unfiltered accounting of my own anxieties about the current political state of affairs. They’ve got a lot on their plates already, which is basically the job of growing up. And I need to raise, and help other people raise, kids who feel brave and not terrified. And that, I think, means that we have to do some titrating at times.

Betty: When you talk about titrating, Lisa, I jumped to the question of how, given that we, especially with teenagers who are increasingly on the Internet getting information from students, their classmates, from online, that we may or may not be able to control, how do we contain these anxieties for them or these exposures to them? How do we titrate this stress from the environment?

Lisa: So I think we have few different openings. One is when they’re asking us directly or coming to us directly about concerns. And for me, the way to thread the needle of being honest to kids without being unnecessarily frightening to kids is to remember that all communication holds a few different channels within it. There’s the words we say and there’s how we say the words. And so what I think parents can do quite artfully, and I think a lot of parents do this instinctively, is they say the truth to their children, but they do it in a tone that communicates a sense that the child can trust that the adults are aware of the situation and are working on it and are responsible for it.

So here’s a for instance. Say that your child happens to have a really hard time with the Trump administration, right. And have a really hard time with immigration policies and really feel uneasy about the news that is coming across on their plate or in the house or somehow that they’re aware of. I think that a way a parent could address the depth of those concerns without unnecessarily stoking the child’s discomfort, right, I mean, and there’s a lot of discomfort to be had on those topics, would be to say something like, I know exactly what you’re talking about or I am in agreement with you. The state of immigration and the way people who are immigrating into the U.S. are being treated right now is something that none of us feel good about. And, you know, or so many of us feel awful about and, you know, you’re having the right reaction and what we have to hold out for is that these policies will change in time. So everything there is factually correct and also empathic and also acknowledging the child’s feelings. But that’s a very different communication than a parent who says all of the exact same words in a fever pitch with anxiety just rippling through the tune of their communication.

So the same lyrics could have a very different impact, depending on how parents package them. So I think that all through raising kids, we have to do this. I remember in a much more pedestrian example, I was driving and I was in the front seat and my younger daughter, maybe she was five, was in the backseat and she said, are you going to die? And I said, yeah. And then I waited, I kind of held my breath. And then she goes, oh this really funny thing happened the other day at school and it was over. So I was honest. I answered the question that was asked, but I also was very deliberate in my tone of just sort of saying, like taking it as, like, sort of a matter of fact thing. And I don’t know where the conversation would have gone if I had said, well, yes but it’s not something you need to worry about now and, you know, like, you know, taken it down that road. But we have those options in our communications with our kids to play with the nuances of tone and communicate a general sense that the grown ups get it and are on it, as much as we can be right now, while also having factually correct conversations.

Betty: What you’re talking about is something that we kind of do clinically, which is go with the affect as well as the content, which is built with the emotions or use your emotions as well as the text. So your daughter asked, are we going to die and or our teens come to us and ask about immigration or the Trump administration or the instability in the world, and what you’re saying is that we can digest this for them and present it back to them in a way that’s more stable than maybe they’re taking it in and that this is a way to stabilize them against overwhelming information that their young minds may find more overwhelming than our adult minds even find them, and our adult minds certainly find them quite overwhelming. How do we encourage this kind of open communication? You know, I know, like, being a parent myself of younger kids is that it’s a catch as catch can, like, they come up just like your daughter did in the backseat comes up with death. We can’t sort of foster these conversations or they might roll their eyes when you want to sit down and say, let’s have a conversation about X, Y, Z, even from like let’s have a conversation about what happened at school today. It comes out spontaneously. And so but with overwhelming information, say, like even recently, the New Zealand massacre–

Lisa: Yeah.

Betty: –do you with teens, particularly since they’re more and more coming online with their awareness of the world in their brains and they’re more exposed to news, how do you foster these kinds of open conversations?

Lisa: You wait for them to open the door. You know, I think it is hard to have a conversation when we’re the one driving the agenda, especially with adolescents. So I would listen for them to say, you know, did you see what happened? I think if we feel that our child may be well aware of it and may be quite uncomfortable about it, I think then we can say, hey did you see what happened on the news and sort of open the door that way and see if they want to go there. But we have to follow their lead, right, we have to follow their lead. And if they say yeah, and they are ready to settle in to talk more about it, great. But I also think, you know, if a ninth grader says, like, yeah I saw it and indicates that, you know, I saw it and to me, it feels like it’s on the other side of the world and it’s really, really tragic, but I also have a physics test tomorrow. I feel like our kid has a right to focus on their physics test.

Michael: See, I do both. I actually encourage my kids to read the paper every single day. I have a 19 year old and a freshman in high school, freshman in college and a freshman in high school. And I’m eager for them to have the world pierce the bubble, because I think that, first of all, I think that a lot of what you are talking about is adult anxiety that I think we project and our kids absorb. So I think that there is a lot of Chicken Little going on right now in the United States, that the world is coming to an end. And this too, we shall survive. And yet we, sort of, I think that a lot of people on the left think that this is the end of days and, politically, right. You know, there’s an election coming up and there was a midterm election. And this is sort of, for better or worse, the process. And there’s a sense, I think, that, especially with certain socioeconomic groups and certain communities, that you are supposed to protect your children. You know, there’s this bubble and, you know, not to paraphrase Thomas Hobbes, right, life is short, brutish, and–

Lisa: Nasty, brutish–

Betty: Nasty, brutish, and short.

Michael: Yeah, and I don’t think that that’s a problem that kids, I don’t think that they should be learning it in kindergarten, necessarily. But, you know, at some point, I think, you know, both of my daughters in different ways, lost friends either to illness or to a car accident when they were younger. Tragedies happen, right. And you have to be there to support them, obviously. You don’t want to start introducing trauma, but, you know, in terms of New Zealand, for example, I made sure my kids read everything, you know, that they knew. I don’t want them ignorant of that kind of hate.

Betty: And then do you have a conversation with them about it, Michael?

Michael: Sure. Of course. You know, but it’s important for them to engage the world as it is, right. I mean, I don’t, same way I make sure they read about Jim Crow and the history of lynching when Black History Month came around, you know, or I mean a million things. Because to me, you want to raise responsible citizens. And part of that is to know, I mean, I’m interested, Lisa, I mean, for me, one of the dynamics that’s so toxic right now with the Internet and young people that I can see in my teenage daughters, or more in their friends even, is that there’s no past tense. It’s just a consistent present tense. It’s what’s, you know, the picture of the day.

Lisa: Uh huh.

Michael: You know, there’s just zero context. And so rather than shielding them, I want to try to keep giving them context. And I feel like I have to give them it as history, like, hey it was way worse here for a long time. And we owned people and sold them. And then after that was over, we passed laws that made it legal to lynch them. I mean, you know what I mean, like there’s women were not allowed to vote until 1920. Mississippi didn’t, you know, passed the 13th Amendment banishing, abolishing, slavery until 1991 or something, you know. People get caught up in the present tense, I think, and create anxiety, thinking the sky is falling.

Betty: And is that something that you see, Lisa, that there is lack of context? And I think to address what you’re talking about, Michael, like, and my understanding is that this is not about shielding, but sort of interpreting and how and if we interpret or we just let our kids be exposed. We’re talking about politics on Mind of State, but it really is about anything. Maybe not by choice, kids encounter traumatic experiences. But how do we as adults, if we’re available to them, some kids don’t have that. I have many patients who did not have that and they bear the brunt of it. But for you, Lisa, you know, in terms of this present tenseness imposed by social media, are you seeing that in your patients and in your research and your conversations across the country?

Lisa: I don’t know that I would call it that. I mean, I think in many ways they are very attuned. I would say that my fifteen year old is the wokest person I know and very much using social media as a place where there is a staying on top of things and a discourse that they’re pursuing. I think that every one of us, you know, has the risk of settling into our own little echo chamber, right. And being, you know, I think adults do it, I think kids do it, where, you know, you’re connected online to people who–

Betty: Agree with you.

Lisa: –agree with you. And then you get entrenched in that. But I have two thoughts on what Michael was saying. One is that a way to sort of take a psychological turn on what he’s describing is that at some level, we could say that he’s helping his kids with the intellectualization, right, the defense of intellectualization. So they look at the news of the day. And then, Michael, you’re helping them to try to see it in a broad historical scope, right. And I have a friend whose husband is an academic political scientist, and this is a very, very liberal friend. And what she says that what she takes comfort in is that he looks at the Trump administration as like a particularly unpleasant blip in this very long kind of historical trajectory. And that that’s comforting for her. And I think that what we know about psychological defenses, right, is that they act as sort of emotional circuit breakers. They keep us from becoming overwhelmed by affectively charged information. So I don’t want to sort of have it be like either you expose kids or you don’t, right. I think that that’s not the question we’re asking. I think the question is how do we expose them in a way that includes enough context or data or broad historical scope or adult perspective so that the news of the day, which in and of itself can blow us all out of the water, how do we keep that from happening to our kids?

The other thought I have, though, about what teenagers are exposed to, and I live in Shaker Heights, Ohio, which is a suburb of Cleveland and we’re, I would say, probably a very blue dot in a very red state. But that doesn’t mean that our dot is entirely blue, that my daughters both go to school with kids whose families are Trump supporters, are in history class with those kids and social studies class with those kids. And so I am actually impressed by the fact that my daughter, when Trump was elected, was having much more direct and engaged conversations with people who don’t share her politics than I am having ever. And so I am cautious about suggesting that, at least the teenagers that I have immediate contact with, I’m cautious about suggesting that they have a narrow view. I remember I was talking to another mother in my community who herself is very, very liberal and her daughter is a dear friend of my daughter. And I said something to her like, you know, our girls are like doing hand to hand combat at school with kids who don’t agree with them. I mean, they’re like really in it, which I don’t ever do.

Betty: And what are the natures of, you know, obviously these are topics coming up in class, or is it just happening on the fly or the teachers bringing it up, or is it naturally happening in given the context of the subjects they’re studying in terms of how they’re negotiating these divisions on the ground in ways that we as adults can choose not to? How are they negotiating this?

Lisa: Well, the ones I hear about are much more sort of on the fly conversations. I remember my daughter coming home and saying a kid in her class had accused Democrats of being hypocritical for saying they were feminists and yet not supporting Ivanka Trump’s work. And my daughter reported to me that she quickly pointed out to him that the Democrats were the only party, major party, that had ever nominated a woman for president. You know, like, but she was ready, you know, and sort of said that. And then, you know, it went on to a broader conversation. And I remember saying, where was your teacher, and she said, oh we had a sub that day. You know, so this is all going on, you know, kind of in the garden variety of like, eight grade. So that piece, at least where I live, is sort of a fascination to me because I do feel like my older daughter at least is way more engaged with people across the political aisle than I am.

Betty: And she’s had to do this, now she’s 15, this is seventh grade. And so she’s growing up through this.

Lisa: Yeah.

Betty: And does she feel the polarization such that this classmate is, you know, I don’t know if 10 years ago kids would be having these conversations, maybe they would be. But in the macro sphere, in the adult world, these conversations are quite polar to the point where we don’t often enter into the Fox News space if we’re MSNBC people or if we’re Fox News people, we don’t enter into the MSNBC space by and large. And we’ve had a lot of interviews with people about ingroup, outgroup and about sticking to your political tribe. But these kids are not there yet, so to speak. and they have to engage because they’re in class with people. And your daughters are, as you put it, going to school with people with families with Trump supporters. So do they feel the lines, the divide?

Lisa: They do feel the lines and our job, I think, I feel, as parents, you know, is both to hear them out, hear what happened at school today, listen. Around here, especially given that we are a really mixed environment in terms of political views, something I’m working really hard as a parent to do is to prevent contempt. Liberals can be extraordinarily contemptuous of people who don’t share their views and more so than people in other parts of the political spectrum. And so, you know, I’m trying to really always push my daughters to try to understand where somebody else might be coming from, even if they firmly disagree with their views. And I remember going on a long walk with my younger daughter and she said, how did Trump get elected, you know, she asked it flat out. And I really tried to give my best assessment of what did not appeal about Hillary to a large, you know, percentage of Americans. And what does appeal about Trump to a large percentage of Americans and to try to be neutral, and also to say this is the piece we don’t agree with or this is the piece I do agree with. But to try to be balanced and not jump in with what’s easy, I think sometimes, to move towards dismissive views.

Betty: Which might be also to be less reactive, which is where, sort of, contempt can kind of come from, because that’s a quick reaction and a wholesale dismissal when you have contempt unless it’s other deeper issues. But I’m curious, your daughter, your little one’s eight. And so she was asking, how did Trump get elected? Was this when he got elected like, so two years, when she was like six or seven?

Lisa: No, I think it was about a year ago she asked this question. So she was seven and a half around the time she asked it.

Betty: What prompted the question?

Lisa: I have no idea. I have no idea. But something else happened with her when she was, right when Trump did get elected, that I also think, you know, getting to that question of are kids having exposure and being exposed, especially when they’re little and keeping conversations going. I don’t know if that was after a period of her being kind of anxious or somehow it rose to the surface that she was really, really frightened about the elections. I think it was when the elections were going on. And then what came out, and she brought it up spontaneously, I remember we were on a walk. And I think, again, like we were on a walk, you know, and stuff starts to bubble up. She said a kid said on the playground that Mike Pence is going to kill all the children, right. So she had this really wild and terrifying–

Michael: They meant puppies. He was going to kill all the puppies.

Lisa: Is that what it was?

Betty: Is that really what the rumor was? Oh my goodness.

Michael: No.

Betty: Here’s where it begins.

Michael: The kittens and puppies. The kids are fine. The kittens and puppies are–

Betty: That’s incredible.

Lisa: Yeah. And so, I was so glad that she said it, right, because then I could address it. But that’s the thing I think with little kids around the news is there’s the news and then there’s what they think the news is, right. And so that’s the other piece we have to manage as adults is even if we think we’re shielding them, they’re picking up playground information, right. So that’s probably another moment where we might, you know, say like, here’s what’s in the news and what are you hearing about what’s on the news? Because those can be two very different things.

Betty: Absolutely.

Michael: What social media do your kids, are they on?

Lisa: So my little one, none. And my older one, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, has never taken much of a liking to Instagram or Twitter, you know. None of them use Facebook. So I don’t really think she spends much time on Instagram. So she actually is, she just sort of likes Pinterest and she likes to watch YouTube videos. So she’s not deeply engaged in social media. Where she does engage is that I think Pinterest has a lot of memes, you know, where kids are putting up memes about current events. And it’s a real hodgepodge, right. Some of it’s about Beyoncé and some of it’s about Harry Potter and some of it’s about, you know, what’s going on politically. And so she stays very, very engaged in that way. But the other thing that, so we live in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and my daughter attends Shaker Heights Public School and she’s a member of the student group on race relations, which is a 40 year old institution at Shaker Heights Public Schools, which are, you know, unusually well-integrated schools. And so she is constantly engaged in very political and very thoughtful discussions around racial relations at, both at the school level and the community level and the national level. So I’m grateful to Shaker for creating this environment where the school is supporting very thoughtful discussions.

Betty: And the discussions are surrounding discrimination, implicit bias, what kinds of things are–

Lisa: I think all of the above. I mean, I think they spent a lot of time really, they have a very set program, they spend a lot of time looking at groups and disadvantage and, you know, microaggressions. And not only does she do programing, do meetings and programing with kids her age, they then go into the classrooms of the elementary and middle school and do all of the programing for younger kids, an esteemed position in the high school, to get to be the ones who are going and doing this with younger kids. And it’s well done and thoughtful. And so she engages in that way very full on, but keeps her social media, I think, a little bit to the side.

Betty: And so, you know this, Ferguson was a while ago so this is probably before her engagement in the anti-discrimination or the race group at high school. But what about Black Lives Matter and the movements that are rising up in this polarized climate that we have in our adult spheres today and immigration and the racism that we see through Charlottesville? How are your daughters or your students, your patients engaging with this information, which can be, you know, how are they digesting this? What is it doing with their perceptions of themselves in the world?

Lisa: I see them very active with it. You know, I’m thinking about clinically and at home. I see an urgency on their part to get their voice out there. I see them wearing many more T-shirts proclaiming Black Lives Matter, you know, many more yard signs that kids are asking their families to have. You know, I’ve taken care of adolescents for 25 years, and I’ve never seen a more politically engaged and active group of teenagers than the one we have right now.

Betty: Is that their families or themselves or a bit of both?

Lisa: No, it’s coming from the kids. It’s very much coming from the kids. I think they’re frustrated with the grown ups. I think they feel, you know, certainly on the liberal side, I think they feel a strong obligation to try to get their voice in. You know, it’s fascinating to watch to compare it, you know, kind of how out to lunch I was politically as a teenager versus looking at my own ninth grader.

Michael: How much was the environment a factor in their world view?

Lisa: The environment in terms of our sort of mixed political–

Michael: No, no, no. Climate change, global warming.

Lisa: Oh, climate change. That is not a topic that I hear kids around here talking much about. Like, that one is not so clearly on my radar. To me, it feels much more about racial equity and justice questions than about that.

Michael: Why do you think that is? I mean, you’re, I mean, Shaker Heights is hardly a hotbed of racial discrimination.

Lisa: Well–

Michael: So why is it that it–

Lisa: Everywhere is a hotbed of racial discrimination.

Michael: Right, it’s not USC or Harvard, but I’m curious. Why is that, do you think, in your community such a prevalent and a central conversation for kids?

Lisa: So the high school itself is 50/50 minority, white. And it has a very long history of trying to think deeply and carefully about racial integration. And so I think part of what makes it so front and center is that our demographics bring it front and center. I travel around the country and go to other parts of the U.S. where, you know, I will speak in front of public school audiences that are almost entirely white public school audiences. And so I think, you know, questions of racial equity and justice, you know, some students may harbor them very closely, but it’s easy to then also set them to the side and not think about them. Whereas I think with the numerical integration that we have here, questions of equity and justice are in front of them all the time, in front of the kids all the time.

Betty: And as you’re putting it right now, you see, just as you were saying, Lisa, and I was the same, like, out to lunch politically as teens, and now kids are much more engaged. And what are the factors to push them in ways that are different from what we anecdotally experienced?

Lisa: Yeah, no, so first of all I think they have, you know, a steady stream of their own information, right. You know, when I think about us as teenagers, you know, if we didn’t watch the morning news with our parents and if we didn’t recently read the newspaper at night, we were sort of existing in our own little–

Betty: Teenage bubble.

Lisa: Bubble, yeah. And whereas now, thanks or no thanks to digital technology, kids have constant access to a steady stream of their own updates about the news, however it may come across to them. You know, however, like, it’s particularly packaged.

Michael: Yeah, and I was the kid that got kicked out of high school for political activities, right.

Lisa: Well good for you.

Michael: Yeah, I got kicked out for organizing a boycott of Nestlé.

Lisa: Love it. I don’t know why you got kicked out, but I love it.

Michale: Well, because the administration didn’t want me to talk about infant formula and Africa. And Nestlé’s weaning mothers in Africa from, I mean, I don’t know if you remember the Nestlé boycott from the 80s.

Betty: I do remember it actually. And so were you–

Michael: My mother was called in.

Betty: Were you among a small, sort of, splinter group of active protesting–

Michael: I was alone. And then I got arrested in college.

Betty: You were alone. This was, Michael, you standing up against the corporate–

Michael: I tried, you know, look, I organized people to boycott, you know, Nestlé. That was a big, important thing to me.

Betty: You had a lot of people come out and support your–

Michael; Yeah. But they didn’t want me to do political activities inside the high school. This was suburban Chicago. And then freshman year of college, I got arrested for protesting apartheid at the University of Illinois, where I spent three semesters before I transferred out, happily for the administration, to Michigan.

Betty: Well, I mean, this speaks to something interesting, because it’s either, you know–

Michael: I just think it’s organic.

Betty: Right, you were engaged. This is something intrinsic in you. Lisa and I might have been more environmental conditioned teens, but we have now kids who are more across the board engaged and impacted by the fact that they have their phones and they have access to information a lot. And they are living online far more than probably we do, although, you know, we ourselves–

Michael: I disagree, because I actually think that this notion that, I think, parents are taking their anxieties, I mean, the notion that a child feels helpless. When I was 13, when I was 14, 15, I guess, when I was in high school, you know, I was organizing a boycott of a multinational corporation that wasn’t even U.S. based. And I was just, and I wasn’t doing it. I was one, I was a tiny, tiny, tiny little dot for other organizations, mostly, you know, religious groups, which I think is how I found out about it. But I didn’t feel helpless, right.

Lisa: Well actually, earlier on I said there are two things parents could do, you know, to help kids. So one, I think, is thinking of how we handle our communications. The other thing actually is exactly that point, Michael, around helping kids not feel so helpless in the face of stuff that is scary. And so some of the more uncomfortable, extremely uncomfortable, conversations I’ve had clinically are with kids who are very, very scared of a school shooting. And those, you know, that is a very hard conversation to have.

Michael: That’s a very real, right. That’s a totally different, totally different, I mean, I was about seeing social injustice in the world and feeling like I should do something. And the difference, you know, with where guns are in America at this point is the notion, I mean, I never felt unsafe in anything in that way at all. And that’s where we failed our kids.

Lisa: Well, so there’s ways though, in terms of, like, addressing the questions of helplessness, so like let’s set to the side for a minute the gun thing, though I do want to return to it because it’s so–

Betty: I do too.

Lisa: –so charged. But just even when kids are unhappy, like if they’re unhappy about the political state, you know, I think both we can say, hey this is in the long arc of history. And then I do think we can say, but look, there are things you can do even before you can vote. You know, if you’re really interested in this, you know, there are things we can do where your voice can be heard before you hit 18. And so I do, you know, that’s like a real, you know, kind of template that we always use in psychology when kids are feeling sad. You know, if a classmate’s parent dies, we say, yes it’s incredibly sad. Do you want to write them a note? I mean, we always look for something that the child can do to help not feel helpless. So I totally agree with you, Michael, that they may feel helpless and they may not always even be helpless and that we can point them to ways they can exercise the power that they do have, even as kids.

But to, then, to take it to this question of school shootings, right. I mean, this is excruciating conversations because I’m terrified of it. You know, the kids are terrified of it. It’s not an irrational fear, even if it’s a very low base rate fear. And even there though I have often found myself trying to help them have some sense, and again, it’s not complete by any measure, some sense of what they could do. And one thing I often will say to kids is, you know, in school settings, when you look at the data, the kid who, you know, it’s often a student who does the shooting and they’re often broadcasting in advance that they have something like this in mind. You know, so I will say to them, you know, you guys have data. You, you know, you make sure you get that data to the grownups, you know, you, if you have data that makes you scared, you just let a grown up know, you know. So, again, it feels sorely inadequate. It’s not enough. But I have found that is one little place that I can try to give a child a sense that it’s not completely out of control, that there may be a piece of it that they may have some access to.

Betty: And what you’re talking about, Lisa, is, you know, from my perspective of trauma treatment is taking them out of a frozen place of anxiety and giving them some empowering strengths, like pointing to their strengths so that, you know, while they are children and their capacity to engage with voting and et cetera in the adult world is limited, they still have strengths. They have the strength to write a letter. They have the strength to tell an adult if they find something alarming and we have the, they have the strength of tuning into their own instincts if they see something online that alarms them. That’s something that, I mean, in terms of emotional intelligence, it’s an opportunity for us to say tune into your instincts, tune into those feelings that you may have, even though they may be just feelings and not based in any kind of overt evidence, but there’s something there. And then an adult can take that in and help you with that. And hopefully not turn it into a five alarm fire if it’s not merited, but also together, because we don’t have access to their world. We don’t live in their world online. And if the student shooters, you know, past and, God forbid, future are active in ways that are pattern, then we can communicate mutually about what we see retrospectively and what the kids can do to help us about it.

But in terms of things like school shootings, this jumps me to, I mean, this is my association, that something that is very on the ground for kids too, and particularly what you were writing about in your book within Under Pressure with girls, this is the #MeToo topic. And you wrote that half of all 8th to 11th grade girls have been harassed.

Lisa: Yeah.

Betty: This is, you know, while maybe not surprising, it’s still harrowing for me as a mother of a young daughter who’s now very young, but I look ahead and then I have nieces and I have friends with teenage daughters and they have reported back to me this. And so, how to help them navigate a world where sexual harassment is present in their schools. And then they’re seeing it in the Kavanaugh hearings, and it’s not coming to a decision that is promoting the survivor. Is that something that impacted your patients? Is that something that, you know, that you’ve had to grapple with at home and in the office?

Lisa: So I will say, you know, I wrote about the levels of harassment that girls are facing and also it’s girls and also kids who don’t identify as straight. You know, that they can also be very much subjected to high levels of harassment. This, for me, is one of those things where I feel that adults, you know, I acknowledge this in my own writing and you talk about it now, I think it sort of catches us up short. I think we are surprised by these numbers. We are surprised by how, kind of, garden variety sexual harassment is in the school day for a lot of middle and high schoolers. I think that part of why it catches us up short is we don’t think to ask about it and the kids aren’t going to bring it up with us. You know, they feel sort of shameful and odd and so they keep it to the side. And so we can carry on with a relatively low awareness of how much of this is going on.

So in terms of what we do, like what we do, I think the first thing we do is we acquaint ourselves with it, right. Like, get to know the real numbers, get to know the forms that harassment takes and then a first step probably is to bring it all under the umbrella that already exists in most middle schools, a sort of anti-bullying behavior. You know that bullying is a term that’s obviously had a lot of traction in recent years and I, you know, that’s something where schools are talking about and are thinking about it and in truth, sexual harassment is bullying with a sexualized twist, right. But it’s essentially just bullying made weirder or more uncomfortable or more shaming for the recipient. So I think that that’s a first step.

The other thing for girls that I have found, which again, seems small, but it feels like it’s where we start, is having to confirm for them that this is wrong. I think they know it’s wrong. They’re aware that it’s wrong, but it’s uncomfortable for them or hard for them to always hold onto that or they question it because it can be so commonplace. And everybody around them can act like it’s just part of the day. And so for us to say, you know, is this kind of stuff going on? And they say, yeah yeah yeah, I think we need to start by saying, okay you know that this is completely out of bounds. Like, this is a completely out of bounds thing to say to anybody under any conditions.

Michael; See, but also in my world, there is a lot of sexual shaming going on in social media and it’s oftentimes in finstas.

Lisa: Uh huh.

Michael: Right.

Betty: What’s in finstas?

Lisa: Fake Instagram. It’s instagram that your parents don’t know you have.

Betty: Okay, I’m out of the loop on that one.

Michael: I mean, I think, you know, I mean, and that’s the fake news of social media. That’s for teens, which is to say this is where the real damage, I think, emotionally is being done, because, first of all, it happens oftentimes parents don’t know about finstas. They think they have access. They think they’re on top of things. They’re never on top of things. They’re Luddites compared to their children, even their young children.

Betty: So a fake Instagram is an Instagram account a kid can create that is under sort of a shadow name that the parents don’t have access to. Is that justly defined terms?

Michael: Well you as a parent you’re like, give me your Instagram. I want to be your friend. So if it’s a private Instagram account, then you think you have access to what’s going on, but they never post anything. That’s not, they just throw crap up there to placate mom and dad.

Betty: As a red herring?

Michael: Yeah totally.

Betty: A red herring Instagram account. Okay, so then you have finstas–

Michael: A finsta is what you really–

Betty: That’s your real. That’s where you really–

Michael: Your quote unquote–

Betty: –your true actions are happening.

Michael: –fake Instagram account is real.

Betty: And so what’s happening? What are you seeing happening on finstas?

Michael: Highly sexualized posts. Young girls putting themselves out, you know, in ways that their parents would be aghast by.

Betty: Like photos of–

Michael: Photographs, yeah.

Betty: –of themselves naked or with scanty clothing?

Michael: Well, in positions that you would think that would be not appropriate for a minor on social media, right. But comments, and the real thing is the comment threads, right. Both the admiration and the kind of bullying that happens. And those things get passed around pretty, pretty brutally. And they happen so often under the radar of school administrators and of parents and kids carry these kinds of attacks and have to manage them. And have to manage them in the kind of toxic environment of high school, which sucks. I mean, anybody that tells you they had a good time in high school–

Betty: So, Lisa, are you seeing this? You know, you knew about finstas. Are you seeing this in your practice? And, you know, I think it’s all pretty toxic to get a slur at school in face to face or virtually. I mean, it’s horrific–

Michael: Yeah, but the stuff that my kids had, like, if it’s face to face, it’s manageable because in some ways there’s the administrators or there’s the teachers. I mean, that was, that’s not the real, in my experience with the teens that I know. The really ugly stuff is the stuff that happens–

Betty: And so your girls have come to you about them?

Michael: Or about others. I mean, they’re aware of it. Yeah, actually we talk about it all the time, right. I have two daughters, so they were part of each other’s finstas. And, anyway, Lisa, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on all of that stuff.

Lisa: Part of what comes into this, right, is developmental age, right. So, you know, a 12 year old putting up a kind of sexy photo, right. That’s one a whole developmental universe that we want to try to understand, which is really different from, say, a 17 year old doing the same thing, right. So it’s like, you know, as I start to try to parse this mentally, you know, I’m thinking through what are the developmental frameworks that would come into play. And, you know, it gets really detailed fast. What I am thinking about, there’s a couple different sort of questions for me that come up and the word power keeps coming up again and again in my mind.

Michael: Yeah.

Lisa: So one question is, is this a 12 year old understanding of how she exercises her power as a woman? Right, she’s aware that this gets attention. She’s aware that this pulls people her way, you know, whether they are admiring or criticizing. But twelve year olds are interested in power, right, they’re interested in social power, it’s when bullying begins, you know, that I think that’s one way we want to frame this up.

Michael: I think that’s right.

Lisa: I mean, talk with kids. Talk with kids.

Michael: I think that’s right because, not to give too much away in my family, but when my older daughter would post things that my wife would find or I would find less than appropriate, let’s say, right, I mean, not naked, right, but still things that you would just like–

Betty: Find harrowing as a parent.

Michael: Yes, exactly, a good way to put it. You know, she accused us of being sexist, right. And I was like, wow that’s really fascinating, right, because I’m like, you’re objectifying yourself is, you know, my feminist approach–

Betty: An adult’s way of looking at.

Michael: Right. You don’t want to turn yourself as a woman into an object, right.

Lisa: Or they’re saying you’re telling me my body is gorgeous and so I’m going to use my body and celebrate it and everybody’s gonna celebrate it with me and–

Michael: If you are telling me what to do with my body, you are sexist, period.

Lisa: Yeah.

Michael: That’s the logic.

Lisa: It’s a really–

Michael: And you’re like, well how do you respond, whoa, that was–

Lisa: You know, it’s a very different view of it.

Michael: Oh, completely. Completely inside out.

Lisa: So then the other thing where power comes into this, and this is a topic where I just really feel like grownups have dropped the ball completely, is on the question of sexting and rules about sexting and how we think about sexting. And, you know, I know it’s really complicated. But one of the things that I find myself having a very hard time with is when I hear a scenario where an eighth grade boy says to a seventh grade girl send nudes. Right, so that’s, and that is the tamest, friendliest invitation for that kind of thing that I usually hear about. And as soon as I hear that, I’m like that’s harassment, like, you know, like there’s no power equality here. You know, this is an eighth grade boy, this is a seventh grade girl, or it could be, you know, a kid in the same class, but he’s got a ton of social power, right. And so suddenly this request, which looks kind of neutral and like she’s free to ignore it and everybody’s doing it, to me feels so much more loaded and something that the adults have not really engaged in a meaningful way. And then often it’s not at all unusual for that, you know, if the girl says no, you know, then actually it does turn into really what is without question, harassment for inappropriate photos. And then–

Michael: What also goes on is that, to misquote Thomas Friedman, the world is flat when it comes to social media. So those boys, let’s say they’re on Instagram, are privy to public accounts of people they don’t know. You know, the Kardashians, for example, you know, so things, you know, where they then want to mirror. I mean, I sound like a Rush Limbaugh guy now, but where they want to mirror things that they’re seeing in popular culture, which is highly, highly sexualized–

Betty: Meaning they want pictures from their classmates–

Michael: From their peers–

Betty: –that are Kim Kardashian esque.

Michael: Well, and that’s the tamest.

Betty: Right, right. But as an example, useful.

Michael: And where they don’t see any difference, I mean, at least in my experience, right. Where they see no difference between somebody who’s frankly, first of all, an adult, right, but secondly, somebody who is famous and the seven year old that you’re talking about.

Betty: And Lisa, to go back to the developmental piece of this, we’re dealing with young kids. You know, 12 is different from 17. And I want to go back to that too to get your definition on where we’re at when we’re 17 or dealing with a 17 year old. But we’re still dealing with kids with the brain development and impulse control that has not fully been formed. And they have access to this very potent material or these channels where potent material can be trafficked or exchanged. And so how have we dropped the ball in your view?

Lisa: Well, so one place just to go back to the inappropriate photos and the sharing of them, you know, that the one place I feel we dropped the ball is that we save a lot of our critiques for the girls. You know, that we’re like, why would she put up a photo like that? And we set to the side the fact that she, you know, she was asked 40 times by a boy to do it. And we don’t really make an issue of his constant requests, but we do make an issue of her finally giving in. So that piece I really think we need to revisit. The place where I feel, you know, if we want to talk about a really charged topic and one where I feel like it’s on fire and we’re not doing our job, really is pornography, right, that a lot of kids are learning about sex from looking at porn. And it’s hard, you know, not to sound prudish as an adult when talking about it, but I remember feeling kind of more like, oh kids look at porn, you know, it’s one of those things. And then several years ago, a mom in our community, I was about to give a talk at a boys school in our community, and she said, you know, I think you should take a look at what the boys are looking at. And she sent me to PornHub.com, which I thought surely they will ask for a credit card or surely they will ask if I’m 18 or surely or whatever. So I type in PornHub.com–

Michael: Is that literally the first time you went to it?

Lisa: Yes, it was. I have never. I am not myself a regular consumer of porn. So I was floored. I was absolutely floored. And what I was floored by–

Betty: And what age are they accessing PornHub.com?

Michael: Ten.

Betty: Ten?

Lisa: Yeah. Okay, so what I saw, and again, like, I’ve had two children. I have been a practicing clinician for nearly 25 years. I am no prude. I, you know, I have been in the world. What I saw was nine videos running simultaneously popped up on my screen, you know, in these sort of like, you know, tiled version. Every one of them looks like violent rape. Just really hardcore graphic to the point of, like, grotesque. And yet the woman seemed to be having a really good time in what looked to me like a really, really upsetting situation. And I just, and, of course, you know, if we’re going to talk about it, let’s talk about it, everyone in there is an anatomical outlier. Everyone, the men, the women, I mean, like, you know, bodies like you’ve never seen in nature, right. And I just, so I was like drop-jawed looking at this. And I thought, what would it be to be a 10 or 11 year old and this is your introduction to sex? Right, like–

Michael: Well that’s also because we don’t know how to talk about sex, right.

Lisa: I agree. I agree, but–

Michael: The problem is that the kids are going to PornHub to learn, right. Because–

Lisa: Yes.

Betty: Or out of curiosity, probably, from friends.

Michael: Well, when you have, when you hit puberty and you don’t know, right, I mean, first of all, the last person you want to talk to about sex is your parents, right. That’s–

Lisa: Right.

Michael: That’s like the worst thing in the world.

Lisa: And they’re not going to bring it up either so–

Michael: So let’s be honest, right. But, you know, look, every generation has, I mean, pornography’s been around since at least Pompeii. I mean, you know, what I remember walking through Pompeii and the penises and everything graffitied all over the walls. But it is dysmorphic and they’re not learning any meaningful social skill. They’re not learning about love. They’re not learning about intimacy.

Lisa: But I would take it further. I would actually say what I saw felt to me actually traumatizing and very different than passing around a playboy with your friends. And I have cared for kids who were traumatized by porn, and often the way it has unfolded was that they were seven or eight and they went on a playdate or went on a sleepover to a friend’s house and some older sibling thought it would be funny or who knows what and showed the little kids porn. And, you know, the kid didn’t sleep for six months and then finally blurts out to their parent what happened.

Michael: Right.

Betty: Yeah, it’s overwhelming. And, you know, looking at it from the perspective of somebody who treats people who’ve been assaulted, and some adult survivors of childhood molestation, their brains literally can’t contain that kind of adult material, meaning that it’s too, it’s not in the language that children can digest. Children have their own sexuality, but on a level that their minds and their bodies and their perspectives on the world can handle within a bandwidth. And that extra bandwidth of these dysmorphic bodies, this violent sort of interactions on a sexual level is very, very potent. And and so then, Lisa, if they are being exposed to this, maybe not, you know, in a overtly, they’re just getting access to PornHub. It’s not somebody flashing them or somebody manipulating them in getting them cornered into a place and getting, sort of, getting off on exposing a child to sexual material. If it’s just there for them to access, what do we do about that?

Lisa: So separate from questions of regulation, which we’re not going there. So here’s what I did. Here’s what I did. So I, first of all, because I’ve been caring for kids clinically where I’d heard these stories, I actually made a rule with both of my kids that they were not to go on computers outside of our own home, school or home. But I said, if somebody, you know, if you’re on a playdate and somebody says, let’s go do this, you say, you know, my parents say I can’t go on other kid’s computers. Like, I just was so, I’m not a particularly anxious parent, but having cared for a couple of kids who had this unfold in this particular way, that was one thing I did. Another thing I did is that when my older daughter wanted a phone and we were negotiating the phone, I actually said to her, I said my number one concern is that this will be the domain through which you see pornography, whether you’re curious or somebody shows it to you. And I said, so there’s a whole bunch of stuff I want to say to you about it before that time comes. And I said, you know, that a lot of what is out there is not loving, is not kind, it, you know, to quote Dan Savage, you know, pornography hates women. And I think that’s a very good–

Betty: Valid statement

Lisa: –framing on it. And then to say, you know, I don’t want you to think that that is what sex is about, has to be about. I want you to be very mindful that these are people who are, you know, electing to take pay to have sex in a public venue. You know, like that that is one corner of the sexual universe. That is not the sexual universe. And that is a corner that has commerce involved. And, you know, and I said, I mean, we did it on a walk, so she didn’t have to look at me. I said and just to be clear, like, that’s not what’s going down at our house, you know, that really violent, weird stuff you’re going to see you, like, that’s not our sexual lives in our own home. You know, like between your dad and me, you know, and of course I’m sure she was, like, ready to crawl out of her skin. But that’s what a lot of little kids look at it. They’re like, oh my God, is that what’s happening, you know, in my parents bedroom? Which is really–

Betty: Terrifying. Yeah. And how old was your daughter when you had the negotiation with the phone?

Lisa: 12. We had that conversation at 12.

Betty: And she knew what pornography was and she knew–

Lisa: She knew, yeah and–

Michael: I’m sure some know a lot earlier.

Lisa: I said to her when the day comes. When the day comes, not if it comes. Like, because there will be some, I know she will see it, like I, and I wish I didn’t know that, but I do know that. I said when the day comes, you can ask me any question you want. I will answer it, no judgment. Don’t worry. Don’t feel like you have to, you know, walk around with questions that you can’t get answers to.

Michael: Yeah, but you see, I think that the genie is out of the bottle so you can tell your kid to not look at the computer outside her home, but when she’s 12, 13, 14, there’s no way that’s going to hold up.

Lisa: Yep. That’s why I said when you see it.

Michael: But everybody else is engaging, everybody else in her social circle.

Betty: Well, I mean, the genie is out of the bottle, but we can talk about the genie and we can name it.

Michael: Yeah.

Betty: And when it’s not namable, just like the monsoon or horror movies, much more effective when it’s shadows on a wall. Like when you actually see the monster, it suddenly has limits.

Michael: Yeah, that’s my take, which is, it’s like media literacy, right, kind of, you know, to get back to our earlier conversation about Trump or politics, you know, one of the things you have to teach your kids is, well what’s the source of the information? Is it a rumor? You know, did you read it? Did you read two articles about it in two different sources? You know, trying to help them learn the viral quality of our political environment right now. And I think that there’s something of the same thing here when it comes to a very oversexualized society and a society where pornography has seeped into everybody’s cell phones and just, it’s just everywhere, especially for a certain cohort of kids. And I think one of the things you have to do is teach them how to read it, teach them, like, look, this, you know, this isn’t real and this is what it is and this is why it exists. And this is what the industry is, because if they read it like, sort of, like they see it as matrix code, it loses its–

Betty: Well, it loses its chaos. So there’s less overwhelming quality to, I mean, it’s going to be overwhelming. But what were you gonna say, Lisa?

Lisa: And I think like, let’s just keep going, which is, you know, we now show rape on TV a lot. You know, TV shows–

Betty: Right, Game of Thrones.

Lisa: –now have rape as part of the story and rapes that are shown, you know, as part of the story a lot, you know. And again, I think maybe it’s because I work with it clinically I’m more sensitized to it or I’m not desensitized to it, but I finally had to stop watching Game of Thrones. I was like, I can’t watch another rape. Like, I just can’t do it. Because if you’ve cared for people–

Betty: Who have survived it.

Lisa: It just, you know, and it was interesting in all of the hullabaloo about 13 Reasons Why, which, you know, when that came out, you know, clinicians everywhere, we were all, you know, beside ourselves about the impact on kids and the way in which it got way out ahead of the grownups. The most–

Betty: And to orient people who might not know what 13 Reasons Why is, it’s a novel about suicide.

Lisa: It’s a novel, but then Netflix made it into a TV show–

Michael: A series.

Lisa: –that they released and kids had watched the entire thing before grown ups even knew what it was, you know. And it’s about a girl who takes her own life and then it, sort of, it unpacks retrospectively the events leading up to it. So everybody was rightly really, really concerned about the messaging around suicide and all of that. The conversation that stayed with me the most, I was talking with a bunch of ninth grade girls and in 13 Reasons Why there are rapes. And one of them, they’re very graphic. They are very graphic, so graphic that an adult man said to me it was one of the most upsetting things I’ve ever seen. And I remember sitting with this group of ninth grade girls and I said you guys I hear there’s rapes in this and one girl in particular got this stricken look on her face and she said it was awful. And she looked, Betty, she looked traumatized, like straight up traumatized. And I was thinking like, holy moly, like, when did this come into the culture that we just show–

Michael: Yeah, my question–

Betty: Well, it’s the extremism–

Michael: Where is the adult at Netflix that thinks that–

Betty: Right, right. There’s that.

Lisa: I know. I was on the ceiling about it.

Betty: Well I think the thing is, is that with Game of Thrones and with this, which I did not know that the rape was so graphic, but the, everything’s getting louder. Everything’s getting more, the explosions, it’s like the sensory overload of–

Michael: What killed me was Game of Thrones, at least ostensibly, is labeled MA and is supposed to, I mean, it still, I mean, supposed to be for adults. But this was literally targeted–

Betty: Right.

Michael: –for this audience. So they showed a rape–

Betty: But It’s a–

Michael: –of a minor for minors. It’s for minors to consume.

Betty: It’s going to sell tickets and–

Michael: No no, it’s not even selling tickets. They’ve already got your subscription.

Betty: But it’s going to get attention. Yeah, I mean–

Michael: That’s the thing that killed me. An adult thought that it was okay to show the rape of a minor–

Betty: And then what do we–

Michael: –for the consumption of minors.

Betty: What do we do when, we have to bring it back a little bit to state before we let you go, Lisa, a president who has been accused 16 times of sexual harassment and assault, allegedly. And there’s a tacit endorsement because these accusations came out before he was elected and then he was elected. And that really impacted my patients, some of whom were on the older end of the adolescent spectrum, meaning in their early 20s, and they were devastated. And so how do we digest this, you know, continuum? Because what you’re talking about with the sexting and the endorsement and the rape that is open and accessible and grotesque, really kind of sadistic, material that kids are seeing as a tacit endorsement because it’s on Netflix. It’s not on some clandestine, you know, even PornHub, which isn’t yet at the level of, you know, a normative place as Netflix, I hope.

Michael: It is. It’s the most visited website.

Betty: I mean, right, but–

Michael: No no, it’s the most visited–

Betty: It’s still called PornHub. It’s not Netflix, you know, it’s not like, oh let’s see what’s going on on PornHub tonight, you know, like–

Michael: Betty, but that is exactly what happens.

Betty: But–

Michael: It’s normative.

Betty: I mean, it’s not. It’s not. You’re not saying–

Michael: Your kids are too young.

Betty: –hey kids, let’s go see what’s on PornHub.

Michael: They are.

Betty: Fine, but they’re not openly admitting that the way they say let’s see what’s on Netflix tonight, mom or dad. You know, that’s just not what’s happening. But, you know, they don’t need to because it’s all happening on Netflix anyway. So how do we, as to your point, Michael, the genie is out of the bottle. So, what we can do to digest this with our children is probably all we can do because the media and the commercial landscape is what it is. And obviously, they do things for very good business reasons. And so therefore, 13 Reasons Why came out in the ways that it came out, probably because people saw, maybe in a not direct way, the success of Game of Thrones, like this has all become normalized.

Lisa: Okay, so I think, first of all, we have to acknowledge that, yes, it’s gotten louder and louder and louder. But child psychology has not changed, you know, kid’s capacity to take in the world is what it’s always been. It’s not that somehow children are suddenly able to tolerate things they were not previously able to tolerate. So I would say, and maybe this is naive, I would say parents should take steps to try to filter some of it from reaching their children, especially younger kids, right. I don’t think we should be like, welp they’re going to see it all so, you know, we’ll just hold on and see what happens next. I mean, I do think there’s a lot to be said for trying to have guardrails when we can. And then I think we get out in front of it and we say when you see pornography, here’s what you’re going to see. Here’s how we think about it as a family. Here’s my availability to talk with you about it. And then the other thing I think we say, you know, with regard to, say, Trump and the question of his sexual history is we say here are our values as a family. This is what we believe, right, and articulate those values and whether they do or don’t line up with, you know, any political figure or any public figure. And I think, again, so much comes through in how we say it. And kids do draw reassurance from grown ups, from feeling like, okay there are some grown ups in the room, right. Maybe not as many grown ups in the room–

Betty: As we would hope, right.

Lisa: But there are some grown ups in the room. And then I think the piece that we, you know, I’m thinking through this as we have this conversation is well, if the total stuff that feels out of control is getting louder, then the grown ups in the room need to get louder too to reassure kids that they’re not crazy, that this is not how things just go, right. That they’re not having the wrong reaction to things.

Betty: Thank you, Lisa.

Lisa: You’re welcome. Thanks for a great conversation.

Betty: Yes, this is fantastic. I mean, who knew we were gonna go to porn?

Lisa Doesn’t always happen. Have a good one.

Betty: Thank you so much.

Michael: Well, we’ve reached the end of yet another session and as my analyst likes to say to me, take your problems home with you. Mind of State is a production of Mind of State Media LLC and Hangar Studios NYC. Our crackerjack producers Caroline Kwash. Our engineer is Rick Serbini. Mind of State’s original music is composed by Joel Goodman, courtesy of Oovra Music. I’m Michael Epstein.

Betty: And I’m Betty Teng. You can connect with us on Twitter at Mind of State Pod, on our Facebook page, and at our website, MindofState.com. You can also subscribe to our show at Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening. And we’ll see you next week.

(Listen to the audio on the episode page.)