Hundreds of women took part in the #SandtonShutdown protest against the scourge of gender-based violence. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)

From a very young age, my son has always been sensitive to his surroundings. His inquiring mind endlessly works overtime, asking questions about everything from death to world hunger. Nothing is off limits in our home; I try to explain everything in a way that his 10-year-old mind can comprehend.

So when he approached me last week and asked innocently why SA’s women are being killed at the hands of their partners and strangers, for the first time I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to speak without emotion, anger and fear.

It’s a conversation that’s been happening in many homes these past few weeks. Parents are at odds when it comes to explaining to their children the reason for SA’s high rate of femicide. And, as a parent, how do you discuss topics like gender-based violence and rape?

According to Kate Rowe, founder and chief executive of Explorare, now is the time to be having these uncomfortable conversations. “Each time you take a moment to speak about and feel through experiences which are challenging, you become part of the change,” she says.

“Often it may seem easier to look away or tell yourself you will talk about it later. Now is the time to be having these uncomfortable conversations. We are at a pivot point - a time where every action counts.”

Below, Rowe lists some ideas on how to broach the conversation with your children.

It’s fine to feel uncomfortable

Lean into the uncomfortable conversations, become okay with being uncomfortable.

Really listen

Listen to yourself and others. Really listen.

Create a safe space

Create space in your day to have conversations with your children, ask them, get curious about what they are they feeling, what they have heard, seen and felt.

Prioritise emotional safety

Make creating emotional safety in your relationships a priority.

Talk about your feelings

Emotions motivate action. Only when we become more aware of what is going on inside are we able to have more choice about how we behave. Encourage your children to notice what they are feeling; you as the parent take time to notice what you are feeling. To the best of your capacity, feel it and talk about it.

Small steps

Titrate the experiences and conversations. These are not conversations you need to be having all at once. Small conversations often have the biggest impact.

Look for help

Find resources to help you, movies, books articles to spark the conversation.

Engage them

Do not look away. Your engagement with this conversation matters.

Visit: explorare.co.za for more info