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When disturbing news hits, how do we talk to our kids about it?

Parents and people who work with kids know how hard it can be to share the harsh realities of the world with children. We wonder how much we should shield their innocence and protect them, but we also know it's our job to prepare them to be active, engaged, and informed citizens.

News of families being separated at the U.S. border has rocked many Americans to our core. That our government would purposefully and unnecessarily put innocent children through pain and anguish — for any reason — is unconscionable. What do you say to children if or when the topic comes up?


Upworthy asked parents and teachers how they're talking to kids about what's happening at the border, and their comments varied widely.

Photo via Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Some parents, especially those with very young children, say they don't talk to their children at all about the news.

"My granddaughter is 5. Her parents are not exposing her to this. I think that's a good idea right now. I want her to believe that we are the good guys ... and I hope that by the time she's old enough to understand this, we will be." — Paige Woodward Watts

"I don't let my 5-year-old watch the news, and we don't listen to it when he is around. I have the privilege of being able to protect him from these nightmares, at least for now." — Ruth Goldberg Hilton

Others say they can't hide it from their kids because they get openly emotional thinking about what people are going through.

"My kids are 5 and 7. We started to incorporate the displaced kids into our nightly prayers, and as I started to explain why, I began to cry. At first, I felt guilty about sharing my grief with them, but they need to know. I'm trying to raise good men, so this is where it starts." — Marysella Mularz  

"Mine found out when I called and left a message for AG Jeff Sessions and was angrily emailing my senators. She hadn't seen me that mad/upset in a long time. She asked what was going on. I told her all about it and that I couldn't stay silent any longer." — Katie Jobes-Lamb

Photo via John Moore/Getty Images.

Some parents tell their kids everything and encourage active engagement with current events.

"Mine are 11 and 9, and due to some stuff we have faced as a family, we have decided the cold hard facts are best. We have taken them to protests and city hall meetings and shown them how government works and how the people have power to fight against things like this. It is up to us to stop the bad from happening, and giving our kids the knowledge to do that gives them power and the tools needed for the future." — Laura Coffing

"As a border resident, my children are already exposed to the hatred and its consequences that harm their friends. They have seen the increase in their young lives, and they stand up for their peers — they've never known life without this kind of thing, so listening to their concerns and helping them strategize and learn how to defend their peers started very early on." — Bequi Marie

Photo via Pedro Pardo/Getty Images.

When parenting gets confusing, it helps to find an expert who can clarify things.

Michelle Borba, an educational psychologist and author of "Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World," shared her insights on how to handle tough news stories with kids.

"The most important first thing is you always — always — make the talk developmentally appropriate to the child you're dealing with," Borba says. "It's brief and it's simple with little kids, based on what they know. And you stop and start the conversation with bigger kids because they're trying to process."

Borba offers a way to handle difficult news events with kids using the acronym T.A.L.K.

Tune in. Pay attention to what your child may be seeing or hearing. "Don't assume your child isn't hearing about this," Borba says. Unless they're being raised in a bubble, they're probably getting exposure to the news on the playground or seeing images and headlines out in public.

Assess or Ask how your child is doing. They may not open the conversation with you, but you can ask them "What are you hearing about this?" or "What are your friends saying about this?" They may be more aware than you know, or they may have heard things that are untrue or unsettling, so check in with them occasionally.

Listen to their thoughts and feelings. Listen at least twice as much as you talk to find out where your child is with all this. "Some children, I will warn parents, are very sensitive about this," Borba says. If appropriate for the child, you can always ask them how they'd feel if it was happening to them. "This is a wonderful way to boost your child's empathy," Borba says.

Kindle hope. "Many kids are going to be sensitive to this or they're going to be worried," Borba says. "And one of the best ways to reduce the worry factor ... and build empathy, is asking 'What can we do?'" The doom and gloom that comes with only hearing about the issues will cloud their image of the world, Borba says. The goal is to raise a child who will better the world, so encourage them to act on their empathy.

Photo via Pedro Pardo/Getty Images.

If everyone could just approach these situations like Mister Rogers, we'd be a lot better off.

Several Upworthy readers and Borba mentioned various versions of "What would Mister Rogers do?" "I think one of the things we're really missing right now is Fred Rogers," Borba says, "... helping children realize the world is good." She says we can tell kids, like Rogers did, "Look for the helpers. Don't look at the people who are pulling kids apart from their parents, but look for the people who are trying to make a difference and help out — that can be you too."

As the saying goes, "You have to kiss a few frogs..."

Dating has certainly evolved over the years—we’ve gone from courtship being purely a financial arrangement (not that this trend has ever truly died) to knights jousting for a lady’s favor, to casual hookups … and now, romance is primarily found through an app more than anything else.

Technology used for meeting that special someone has become so advanced that you can base your search entirely upon specific interests. Like … oddly specific interests. Think a fellow cat person would be the purrfect match? There’s an app for that. Wish to “love long and prosper” with a fellow Trekkie? There’s an app for that too.

No matter the changes, one thing remains the same—dating is awkward. It’s got all the unspoken formalities of a job interview, disguised as innocent fun. The balance between playing it too cool and too eager is hard to find even for the smoothest among us, and usually results in total embarrassment. Even if we aren’t the ones committing those embarrassing acts ourselves, we are often the reluctant witness to them.

Terrible dates might not always be fun in the moment, but they can be just as important as the good ones. They can teach us a lot about ourselves and what qualities we want in a partner. And at the very least, they can teach us to embrace social clumsiness with a sense of humor.

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share a “funny or embarrassing first date story” for his ever popular #Hashtags segment. The best part—some of these awful first dates ended in marriage. There’s hope for us all.

Below, find 15 stories that are truly the the best of the worst. How do some of your first dates compare?

1. "After a nice dinner, she invited me to her house. On the way up, inside the elevator, I decided to push the button to stop between floors and give her a kiss... She had a phobia of closed spaces and she smacked my face as a reflex, two punches after we were kissing and laughing.” – @PanqueAlgarvio

2. “His jeans were so tight he couldn’t sit down. Stood at a bar stool the whole time.” – @onlyintheozarks

3. “Waiting 4 my date when an older couple asked me for a ride. my date came up and said sure! We drove them home & they asked us to come in. Date said “sure”. I pulled him back & asked why he wanted to hang w/strangers. He said ‘sh@t! YOU DON'T KNOW THEM!?’ We bolted!” – @natashaham75

facebook dating

Talk about a fashion faux pas.

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4. “Before the date, we had been chatting about books we liked and I talked about a great book I just read. We went on the date. I loaned her the book. She ghosted me.” – @thenextbarstool

5. “The worst first date I ever had was when my date locked his keys in the car and I had a curfew so he had to break his car window out to get me home on time. Didn’t think I’d ever see him again but we wound up married.” – @csleblan

6. “First date movie ‘Basic Instinct’ not realizing how suggestive it was. We just thought it was a mystery thriller! We left the movie discussing how each character could have actually murdered someone. We're married now.” – @Southrnbell_Amy

black people meet

There are worse first date movies tbh.

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7. “First date with my ex husband was a double date with his parents. The preview for ‘Speed Racer’ came on, and she leaned over me to say to her son, ‘You know what your dad's nickname in the bedroom is?’" – @theostoria

8. “A friend asked me on a double date as a blind date with his date's friend. I went to the bathroom and came back just in time to hear my date say to her friend, ‘why do I get the ugly one?’ I said good night to all three and headed home, leaving her w/the bill.” – @StevenTrustum

9. “He loved cheese. I was subjected to a 2 hour conversation/lecture about cheese, and why cottage cheese is not cheese!” – @Optimist_Eeyore

bumble

I'd like to see this two-hour cheese lecture.

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10. “He took me to an Asian fish market. We walked around looking at live & dead fish for a while. I don’t like seeing dead animals & I don’t eat seafood. Then we sat on a curb & he pulled out a ziplock bag of pineapple for us to share. I don’t like pineapple.” – @markayhali

11. “My cousin set up a first date for me with a family friend. During a break from dinner, Mr. Man follows me into the ladies’ room, comes up close and says in a low voice, ‘I shave my butt.’ Can’t remember what I said in response but the evening ended abruptly.” – @carli_zarzana

12. “I once took out my high school crush to a sports bar and ordered the spiciest wings there in an attempt to impress her. Not only was she not impressed. The next morning I woke up with heartburn.” –@Dmonster38

tindr conversation starters

Talk about a hot date.

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13. “My date showed up with his bestie and girlfriend, and they talked through dinner about people I don’t know. Walking to the car, he gave me a wedgie because he thought he hadn’t been paying enough attention to me.” – @surrealDazey


14. “I was taking my date home and was pulled over by the police for speeding. When the cop came to my car, she jumped out and told him she had to get home. She walked home and I never heard from her again. I'm not sure who's #WorstFirstDate it was mine or hers!” – @eastriverbear

15. “After an evening of dancing with a first date, leaving the dance hall, I had to take a quick pee break. Rushing out to the parking lot, I see a lady, I grab her and swoop her around, and plant a big wet kiss on the lips. She was another guy's wife. Oops!” – @seadogskamore

date you

Only Gomez could have gotten away with it.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Maybe they'll like kale chips?

Lovers of babies and haters of kale, have we got a fun and fascinating science-based story for you.

A new study posted in Psychological Science shows rare up-close-and-personal photos of babies in the womb making different facial reactions to different food their mothers eat. Previous studies with infants and breastmilk have shown that flavors carry from mother to child through amniotic fluid, but this is the first time unborn babies have been examined.

One hundred pregnant women from the U.K. were given powder with either carrot or kale flavoring or neither flavor. After 20 minutes, 4D ultrasound scans revealed undeniably different—and kind of hilarious—facial reactions. It was very telling which flavor was smile inducing and which one wasn’t.

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Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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